USC hopes to hand Arizona its 20th straight loss

NCAA Football

Southern California is riding a two-game losing streak, owns a sub-.500 record and is finishing up its season with an interim head coach.

A game against Arizona comes at a good time.

USC (3-4, 2-3 Pac-12) hosts the Wildcats on Saturday in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with Arizona (0-7, 0-4) coming in with the nation’s longest losing streak at 19 games. Two of those 19 losses came against the Trojans, although USC needed a last-minute touchdown to eke out a 34-30 win in Tucson last season.

The Wildcats had a close call last week, leading visiting Washington 16-7 early in the fourth quarter and looking to extend the advantage before throwing an interception after reaching the Huskies 28. Washington grabbed the momentum and won 21-16.

“What we’re trying to teach our team is that one play is one play,” first-year Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said. “One play is not the outcome. We’re up nine with 12 minutes left and it felt as if after that there was just a deflation and a here-we-go-again mentality.”

USC is coming off a 31-16 road loss to rival Notre Dame, despite outgaining the Irish 424 yards to 383.

“Way too many mistakes from all facets whether it was special teams, offense, defense, coaching,” said interim head coach Donte Williams, who is 2-3 after replacing the fired Clay Helton. “We all made mistakes, and we took turns making them.”

The Trojans have won the past eight matchups against Arizona, 10 of the last 11 and 17 of the past 19.

They enter with plenty of firepower, including potential All-America receiver Drake London, who has 79 catches for 1,003 yards, with both figures ranking second in the nation. He has an astonishing 31 catches for 333 yards in the past two games.

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis has completed 162 of 248 passes for 1,818 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Keaontay Ingram, a transfer from Texas, has a team-high 557 rushing yards, including a season-best 138 last week against Notre Dame.

Arizona has failed to reach 20 points in 10 consecutive games. Much of this season’s issues revolve around the quarterback position, where third-stringer Will Plummer is the only healthy scholarship player. He is 49 of 91 for 442 yards with two TDs and five interceptions in five games, including two starts.

Fisch used athletic wide receiver Jamarye Joiner, a former high school quarterback, in several direct-snap situations last week. The coach said that Joiner’s role could expand, giving USC’s defense reason to prepare for more zone-read looks on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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