Trojans: Wired podcast previews USC-Washington State clash

#USC – Washington State is a very big game. Its importance should not be underestimated or downplayed. @IanHest co-hosted and produced the show.

It’s time for USC versus Washington State. Big road games have a way of capturing national attention more than big home games, if only because the perceived threat of losing is greater. What is also interesting to note, however, is that whereas USC was a six-point favorite at kickoff time against Oregon State, the Trojans are a 13.5-point favorite against Washington State as of Thursday afternoon. That’s a surprisingly large line given how competitive Washington State has been, and given how banged up the USC offensive line currently is.

What is also limiting the amount of buzz surrounding Wazzu-USC is that Utah faces UCLA on Saturday, in what is admittedly a bigger game. That’s understandable … but it doesn’t make USC-WSU less important on its own. It just makes this game in the Los Angeles Coliseum comparatively less important than the daytime duel in Pasadena.

On our latest Trojans: Wired podcast, co-host Ian Hest — who produced the show — joined me to discuss the Washington State game.

Enjoy!

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Trojans Wire previews USC-Washington State on national YouTube show

We joined @MarkRogersTV at the @VoiceOfCFB to discuss the Washington State game and the many storylines surrounding #USC football heading into Week 6.

USC-Washington State is approaching. The Trojans head into a very important game knowing that Caleb Williams is capable of doing great things, but also knowing that if he gets careless — as he did against Arizona State when he threw his first interception of the season — USC could find itself in a dogfight with little margin for error.

The Trojans have some injury concerns along their offensive line heading into the Washington State game on Saturday at 4:40 p.m. local time on Fox television. USC’s rush defense is still flawed and inconsistent. Alex Grinch did make good halftime adjustments against Arizona State, but the fact that he needed to make halftime adjustments against Arizona State — one of the weaker teams in the Pac-12 — could be an indication that USC’s overall strength simply is not as great as its No. 6 national ranking might suggest.

Trojans Wire previewed the Washington State game and discussed the state of USC football with Mark Rogers at The Voice of College Football:

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3rd down conversions will be front and center for USC vs Washington State

One fact shows how big third-down conversions have been for #USC this year … and why third-down conversions will be a central key vs Washington State.

There are lots of numbers and facts we can throw at you to explain why USC is unbeaten and is checking the boxes it needs to check thus far this season.

We can tell you that USC’s victory against ASU Saturday night put the Trojans at five wins on the season, surpassing the team’s entire win total in 2021. We can point out that the team’s electric 5-0 start is just its second in the last 16 seasons of Trojan football.

More fun with numbers: USC’s Heisman candidate Caleb Williams also returned to his old form Saturday night, going 27 of 37 for 348 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. His passing yard and completion totals against ASU are single-game bests this season.

The quarterback’s first interception of the season came in the third quarter and broke Williams’ hold on the longest active streak in the FBS for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception at 215.

Yet, the fact which matters most in explaining the success of the USC offense — and by extension, the team itself — relates to third down conversions. Third downs and penalties are going to be major factors in this week’s game versus Washington State, and the biggest game of the year on Oct. 15 at Utah.

Get this:

Per Jon Wilner, “Three Pac-12 teams are in the top 10 nationally in third-down conversion percentage: USC (55.6), UCLA (54.7) and Washington (52.1).”

A 56-percent conversion rate on third downs will play. That will separate USC from the rest of the Pac-12. Want a big key this weekend versus Wazzu? Third downs represent a great answer, on par with turnover differential.

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With Dodgers having the weekend off, college football takes center stage in Los Angeles

The new MLB playoff format means the Dodgers don’t play until Tuesday. USC-WSU and UCLA-Utah own the stage. College football is the main event in L.A.

Yes, there will be a lot of hope and anxiety in Los Angeles when the Dodgers begin the Major League Baseball playoffs. Months after Vin Scully’s death, and immediately following the attainment of 111 wins, a regular-season franchise record, the expectations for the Dodgers will be appropriately high. Los Angeles will be consumed by the Dodgers’ pursuit of a non-pandemic World Series championship. The 2020 title certainly counts, but everyone wants to celebrate a World Series title in Dodger Stadium, or at least in a full-length season. 2020 didn’t give anyone that opportunity. The Dodgers will soon take the stage in Los Angeles sports …

but not just yet, and not this weekend for sure.

The new MLB playoff format means the Dodgers will sit back and relax until they begin the NLDS on Tuesday, Oct. 11. In the meantime, college football is the big ticket in town. Let’s look at the weekend’s two big games, USC-Washington State and UCLA-Utah:

Washington State game is a true ‘prove it’ moment for USC football

The upcoming Utah game will receive more national buzz, but the Washington State game is more important for #USC. We explain why.

The USC Trojans are nearly a two-touchdown favorite against the Washington State Cougars this Saturday in the Los Angeles Coliseum, which might suggest to the public that this game shouldn’t be especially close. That is not the right way to think about the game. That line should be several points lower than it currently is.

That point aside, this next statement needs to be emphasized and underlined heading into Week 6: This isn’t just another game on USC’s schedule; it’s arguably the most important game of the whole season.

Wait a minute, you might say, isn’t the Utah game the truly important game of 2022 for the Trojans? We’ll explain why the Washington State game actually means more:

USC-Washington State doesn’t seem to be getting the buzz or urgency it deserves

If you think this game will be easy for USC, think again. That’s not the mentality any Trojan player, coach or fan should adopt heading into a hugely important battle.

Does anyone else have an uneasy feeling about this USC-Washington State game? I know I do.

This game is, in point of fact, a really big deal. Yet, the buzz just doesn’t seem to be building for the game on Saturday at 4:40 p.m. inside the Los Angeles Coliseum. This is the prime-time television slot USC fans want. It’s a marker of significance in the college football world. This is when USC should be playing its most important games of the year.

Why does it feel, then, that USC is being assumed to win and that everyone is already looking forward to Utah on Oct. 15? This is a huge game for USC, and Washington State is a very capable opponent. Let’s dive into an explanation of why this game is so big, and why the public seems to be sleeping on this contest:

College Wire Pac-12 football predictions for Week 6

See how Trojans Wire, @Ducks_Wire and @BuffaloesWire picked the big Utah-UCLA and USC-Wazzu games.

Another week has come and gone in the college football season. Thankfully, Week 6 has quite an impressive slate of games all around, including some notable Pac-12 matchups.

Before we examine the latest predictions from the Pac-12 College Wires team, let’s recap last week’s results and the full standings up to now:

  • Zac Neel- 4-2  (39-7)
  • JackCarlough – 5-1 (40-6)
  • Pat Conn – 5-1 (39-7)
  • Matt Zemek – 5-1 (38-8)
  • Don James – 6-0 (38-8)
  • Andy Patton- 5-1 (37-9)
  • Don Smalley – 6-0 (38-8)
  • Tony Cosolo – 6-0 (37-9)
  • Matt Wadleigh – 4-2 (35-11)

The two most notable matchups are Washington State facing the USC Trojans in the Coliseum and the Utah Utes meeting the UCLA Bruins in Pasadena, so Hollywood will have a ton of firepower this weekend.

Here are the predictions from the College Wires Pac-12 team:

Before The Snap: Which teams are emerging as dark-horse College Football Playoff contenders?

There are six clear College Football Playoff contenders. But what about the dark horses?

Welcome to Before The Snap, For The Win’s college football series where we’ll break down the sport’s trending storylines, examine each week’s biggest matchups and track the College Football Playoff and Heisman Trophy races.

The 2022 College Football Playoff race is shaping up to be less of a race and more of a foregone conclusion. Sure, it’s only Week 6, and there’s a ton of football to still be played.

But unless something disastrous happens to one of these teams, it’s pretty likely that Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State will make up three of the four playoff teams. If that scenario plays out, it leaves teams like Clemson, Michigan and USC fighting for that last spot.

So if those six teams are playoff contenders this season, what about the dark horses?

It’s going to be awfully tough for some of these super outside candidates to keep up with some of the powerhouses and make the four-team playoff, but we’re rooting for a fun playoff race with chaos and room for debate.

***

Going into Week 6’s matchups, here’s a look at the top-10 teams with the best chances to make the College Football Playoff, along with their chances of advancing to the title game and winning it all, according to ESPN’s Playoff Predictor, as of Tuesday. The Playoff Predictor utilizes an algorithm that factors in the same considerations as the selection committee, such as strength of record, number of losses and conference championships (or independent status), along with the FPI.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0)
  • Playoff: 86.9 percent
  • National championship game: 62.8 percent
  • Win championship: 41.2 percent
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0)
  • Playoff: 78.3 percent
  • National championship game: 47.4 percent
  • Win championship: 24.8 percent
3. Georgia Bulldogs (5-0)
  • Playoff: 64.9 percent
  • National championship game: 34.6 percent
  • Win championship: 15.7 percent
4. Clemson Tigers (5-0)
  • Playoff: 52.2 percent
  • National championship game: 18.2 percent
  • Win championship: 6.3 percent

After beating Arkansas last week without quarterback Bryce Young for much of the game, Alabama’s playoff chances in all three categories went up slightly. Meanwhile, Ohio State’s chances, after a Rutgers win, are virtually identical all around compared with last week’s numbers.

And compared with Week 5, Clemson’s chance to make the playoff (43.1 percent), advance to the title game (14.6 percent) and win it all (4.9 percent) got a notable boost after beating N.C. State. As we’ve previously speculated, if the Tigers could take down both Wake Forest and N.C. State, they’d be back to being a playoff frontrunner and could reasonably finish the season with an undefeated record and an ACC championship.

Georgia’s playoff chances, on the other hand, took a small but clear tumble after the Bulldogs had to come from behind to beat Missouri, 26-22, in Week 5. Last week, their chance to make the playoff was at 71.8 percent, advancing to the national championship game was at 42.0 percent and winning a second consecutive title was at 21.4 percent. Nothing to be concerned about as Georgia is still very much a playoff favorite, but the gap between it and Clemson, along with the other hopefuls, isn’t quite as large anymore.

Here’s a look at the rest of the teams and dark-horse contenders with the top-10 best College Football Playoff chances in Week 6:

5. Michigan Wolverines (5-0)
  • Playoff: 39.8 percent
  • National championship game: 15.3 percent
  • Win championship: 5.1 percent
6. USC Trojans (5-0)
  • Playoff: 17.9 percent
  • National championship game: 4.7 percent
  • Win championship: 1.5 percent
7. Utah Utes (4-1)
  • Playoff: 12.5 percent
  • National championship game: 4.0 percent
  • Win championship: 1.5 percent
8. Ole Miss Rebels (5-0)
  • Playoff: 9.9 percent
  • National championship game: 2.9 percent
  • Win championship: 0.9 percent
9. Penn State Nittany Lions (5-0)
  • Playoff: 7.7 percent
  • National championship game: 1.7 percent
  • Win championship: 0.4 percent
10. Tennessee Volunteers (4-0)
  • Playoff: 7.2 percent
  • National championship game: 2.2 percent
  • Win championship: 0.7 percent

Tennessee returns to this top-10 list, while Minnesota’s appearance on it was short-lived.

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Trojans Wire joins the Frankly Speaking Sports College Football Show

We wish to thank @LarryFrankus for having us on his college football show. We discussed a lot of #USC FB topics and previewed the Washington State game.

Trojans Wire has a big fortnight ahead. The next two games for USC football are two of the biggest of the season. We get the party started with this Saturday’s prime-time clash against the Washington State Cougars on Fox. One week later, Fox gets another prime-time USC game when the Trojans make the much-anticipated trip to Salt Lake City for the big battle against the defending Pac-12 champion Utah Utes.

This week, we’re focusedo on Washington State. Trojans Wire joined the Frankly Speaking Show with host Larry Frankus to discuss the state of USC football, the events of the past few weeks, the difference Lincoln Riley has made for the Trojans, and the details of the upcoming Washington State game.

Trojans Wire wishes to thank Larry and the team at Frankly Speaking Sports for inviting us onto his program. Be sure to catch the full Frankly Speaking Sports College Football Show, with analysis of teams and games around the country, not just USC.

Our segment with Larry begins at 27:30 in this video below:

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USC placed behind UCLA in USA TODAY Sports re-rank of FBS teams

UCLA ahead of USC? In one set of rankings this week, that’s true. The Trojans and Bruins both have huge games this coming weekend in L.A.

Although Caleb Williams and No. 6 (USA TODAY Coaches Poll ranking) USC never trailed against Arizona State, the Trojans also couldn’t pull away during a fairly average first half. “Average” is measured by the Trojans’ newly ambitious standards under coach Lincoln Riley.

Williams and the Trojans found their edge in the second half, and they used it to slice straight through the Sun Devils on the way to another big win 42-25 at home.

That result, along with UCLA’s win over Washington, led to a shuffle in some new rankings this week.

USC dropped one spot to No. 10 in the re-ranking of FBS teams done by Paul Myerberg of USA TODAY Sports.

UCLA is No. 9, one spot ahead of the Trojans.

Senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson led UCLA (5-0 overall, 2-0 Pac-12) to its first signature win of the season, 40-32 in the Rose Bowl over previously No.15 Washington.

USC has a big chance against Washington State and Utah to impress pollsters and voters in the next few weeks.

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