Game 8 wrap-up: Winners and Losers
Arizona 39, USC 36
Arizona provided all the elements for a trap game, but it was USC that assisted in snaring itself. Two things I’ve emphasized in past weeks is the record of season opponents and Trojan penalties. Through those figures we could see that it wasn’t the foreign venue or red clad Wildcats staging an ambush in Tucson, as much as it was continuity setting all the right pieces in place.
USC had played poorly in three Pac 12 road games, managing to escape defeat against the lesser opponents, after losing to Stanford in the conference road opener. The Cardinal was also the only winning program the Trojans had faced, before taking the field against a second in Arizona. The five week gap between teams with winning records is the same five weeks between losses. That fact eliminates coincidence and raises concern, when you look at the road remaining for the Men of Troy.
With the updated numbers, USC season opponents post a combined record of 27-37. Only Stanford (6-2) and Arizona (5-3) are above .500, with the remaining six sitting even or lower. It doesn’t take rocket science to see a season trend of falling to winning programs, while clubbing the losers. USC (6-2) has four games remaining on the schedule, and each of those teams possess a winning record. There are no more losers on the 2012 slate, and the home stretch contains unbeaten bookends in Oregon and Notre Dame.
USC has amassed 82 penalties through 8 games, tacking on another 13 in the loss to Arizona. The team was flagged 20 times in two losses, while also committing 8 turnovers. The Trojans were able to overcome mistakes and prevail against programs far inferior, but were repeatedly bitten by the lack of discipline in games played against better teams. Arizona didn’t become a great football program overnight, but USC has twice proven that “great” is not a necessity for upsetting a top-10 team. Arizona was good on Saturday afternoon, and with each Trojan miscue, the Wildcats appeared better.
Southern California fell to No. 17 in the BCS rankings and clearly out of the national championship picture. It remains the leader in the Pac 12 south, but the gap against the field has narrowed. UCLA and Arizona State sit one game behind, and both will play USC in upcoming weeks.
- Marqise Lee had 16 catches, 345 yards, and 2 touchdowns in the loss. He established a new school and conference record for single-game receiving yards. The Pac 12 record was held previously by Oregon State’s Mike Haas (293). The school record was previously held by R. Jay Soward (260).
- Lee’s 469 all-purpose yards were the most by a Trojan since Reggie Bush’s 513 yards against Fresno State.
- Marqise Lee was named Pac 12 offensive player of the week for his effort in a losing cause. Arizona’s Marquis Flowers earned Defensive player of th week honors, after recording 2 interceptions and a forced fumble in the Wildcats win.
- Arizona WR Austin Hill torched the USC defense with 12 receptions for 259 yards.
- Matt Barkley’s 493 passing yards broke his own school-record. He threw for 468 yards in the victory over Arizona last year.
- Arizona’s victory was the first for Rich Rodriguez against a ranked Pac 12 opponent.
- Arizona’s upset victory over USC earned it a spot in the AP poll. The Wildcats are ranked No. 24 and represent the only 3-loss team in the rankings. A total of 6 Pac 12 teams appear in this week’s poll.