Washington State at No. 6 USC: Who has the edge?

Washington State at No. 6 USC

When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

TV/Radio: Fox/AM 790

Records: Washington State 4-1, 1-1 in Pac-12; USC 5-0, 3-0

Line: USC by 13

Notable injuries: WASHINGTON STATE: N/A; USC: PROBABLE: LB Shane Lee (arm), TE Lake McRee (undisclosed); GAME-TIME DECISION: WR Terrell Bynum (undisclosed), OG Justin Dedich (leg); OUT: RUSH Romello Height (shoulder), TE Jude Wolfe (foot)

What’s at stake? For the Cougars, a win elevates them into the AP Top 25 after being the first team on the outside looking in this week. And a win solidifies the Cougars’ status as a legitimate Pac-12 contender in head coach Jake Dickert’s first season. For USC, a win keeps the Trojans undefeated heading into next week’s matchup with Pac-12 favorite Utah. If the Utes dispatch UCLA on Saturday, that would greatly increase the chances that next week’s game in Salt Lake City is the selection for ESPN’s College GameDay, a good exposure opportunity for USC.

Who’s better? Defensively, the teams are comparable; USC is fifth in the Pac-12 in yards allowed and Washington State sixth, while the Trojans are third in points allowed and the Cougars second. Offensively is where USC has the clear advantage, averaging 12.6 more points per game than Wazzu.

Matchup to watch: The USC offensive line vs. the Washington State front seven. This is where this game will be decided. The Cougars are fourth nationally in tackles for loss and seventh in sacks per game. Quarterback Caleb Williams has been able to make magic with his feet in the backfield, but if the USC line can’t give him time in the pocket this game could start going in the wrong direction quickly.

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USC wins if: If the Trojans don’t allow more than two sacks … if Travis Dye gets back to 100 yards rushing after missing that mark against Arizona State … and if linebacker Shane Lee plays after missing practice Wednesday with an injury.

Prediction: USC 34, Washington State 28. Expect another close game like Oregon State that comes down to the final drive, but USC’s offense should have just enough firepower to come out on top.

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