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Players and people to watch as Washington State visits USC

Cougs need to play mistake-free today.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 01 Cal at Washington State Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning, Coug fans. Our Washington State Cougars are in Los Angeles today to take on the no. 6 USC Trojans. WSU, of course, is no. 26 but they don’t put numbers that high next to team names on the score bug. If WSU wins today, they’ll have to rank us, if that matters to you right now.

This is WSU’s sternest test thus far, and a win would be monumental and among the greatest in school history. It’s Coug Raid vs. Air Raid, and Coug Raid vs. an Alex Grinch defense. WSU hasn’t had much success at USC in recent memory. The 2013 win was nearly a decade ago.

A lot of what I have to say relates to the players and people to watch this afternoon, so let’s get to it.

Players and People to Watch

Alex Grinch

Remember him?!?! He helped turn WSU’s defense around starting in 2015 before moving up to Ohio State and then Oklahoma. He’s now back in our time zone at USC overseeing a defense that leads the nation in turnover margin at +2.8. Grinch is known to preach takeaways, and that’s exactly what’s keeping USC’s defense respectable, because it’s otherwise a middling team when it comes to total defense. That USC secondary is vulnerable. Lastly, how soon does the Fox broadcast mention Grinch is a former WSU assistant? I’m going with during the pregame.

Cam Ward

Ward has a good case for making this list just about every week. Ward protecting the football today is crucial if WSU wants a chance at the upset. The aforementioned Trojan takeaway margin is key, and USC is going to try and force Ward into making mistakes. Ward really can’t afford to make any. As Jeff wrote this week, dumb interceptions absolutely cannot happen. Twelve of USC’s 15 takeaways are interceptions.

WSU’s Offensive Line

Another group that could be on this list every week. The team’s presumed weakest link has held up relatively well this season, all things considered. There have been brutal mishaps, but this ain’t your 2012 offensive line. They big boys up front will also have to play just about mistake-free, because USC loves to get to the quarterback. The Trojans have 19 sacks on the season, good for fifth nationally. Speaking of sacks....

WSU’s Defensive Front Seven

The WSU defense has 18 sacks on the season, good for seventh nationally. Be it resolved: Whoever ends up with more sacks, wins. Don’t hold me to that.

WSU’s Secondary

WSU is 116th in the nation in pass defense. That’s not good. USC is no. 22 in passing offense. That’s good. This, dear readers, is a mismatch, and if any group needs a perfect game, it’s the WSU secondary.

Robert Ferrel

Time for some good juju: I put Ferrel on this list last week and he came up big. Here’s to another big game, Robert!

Go Cougs.


'We're confident in what we can do, too': Washington State returns to national spotlight for matchup with No. 6 USC | The Spokesman-Review
LOS ANGELES – From a general point of view, the football programs at Washington State and Southern Cal don’t share much in common – soon, they won’t even share a conference.

Two-minute drill: Keys to victory for Washington State against USC | The Spokesman-Review
Story of the game …

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LOS ANGELES – According to USC’s coach, the Trojans haven’t faced a challenge like Washington State this season.

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PULLMAN – Since the creation of the Associated Press college football poll in 1936, Washington State has played 78 games against opponents ranked in the AP’s top 10.

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