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No. 20 USC Football Plays 2020 Road Opener At Arizona

Nov 8, 2020

Game Notes (PDF)

THEMES

*No. 20 USC takes to the road for the first time in 2020 when it visits Arizona, making this the Trojans' latest road opener in 102 years. The game will be shown on FOX.

*USC is riding a 7-game winning streak against Arizona and the Trojans have captured more than 80% of their games against the Wildcats, with just 2 losses since 2001. Troy has scored at least 24 points in the past 10 UA contests, but nearly half of the games in the series have been decided by 8 points or less.

*USC is coming off a dramatic one-point home comeback victory over Arizona State, getting a pair of fourth down TD passes in the final 3 minutes, while Arizona had its season opener at Utah last week cancelled because of COVID issues with the Utes.

*USC's offense, which put up 556 total yards against ASU, is led by record-setting QB Kedon Slovis, the 2019 Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year who completed a USC game record 40 passes against the Sun Devils. Slovis has a stable of talented pass catchers, including WRs Amon-Ra St. Brown (144 career receptions), Tyler Vaughns (196), Drake London (he outdueled 2 defenders to catch the ASU game winner) and Bru McCoy (in his first game as a Trojan, he grabbed a TD pass that St. Brown tipped in the ASU game's final 3 minutes and then recovered the ensuing onside kick). Troy's rushing attack includes a pair of 1,000- yard career runners in TBs Stephen Carr (1,198 career yards) and Vavae Malepeai (1,325). The Trojan defense features the likes of Ss Talanoa Hufanga and Isaiah Pola-Mao, who combined for 17 tackles against ASU, ILB Palaie Gaoteote IV, DL Marlon Tuipulotu and OLB Drake Jackson, a 2019 Freshman All-American. USC debuted freshman PK Parker Lewis against Arizona State and he exhibted a strong and accurate leg.

*Arizona features an offense that has been among the Pac-12's top 3 in rushing and passing yards each of the past 2 seasons. QB Grant Gunnell hit 65.2% of his passes in 2019 for 1,239 yards with 9 TDs and has not thrown a pick in his past 92 attempts. The Wildcats' top runner is RB Gary Brightwell (915 career rushing yards, 8 TDs) and the leading receiver is WR Jamarye Joiner (34 catches, 552 yards, 5 TDs in 2019). Arizona's defense features veteran DB Lorenzo Burns, who has 9 career interceptions, LB Anthony Pandy (100 career tackles) and LB Jalen Harris.

RANKINGS

*USC is ranked No. 20 in both the current AP sports media poll and the Amway coaches poll. Arizona is not ranked.

SERIES

*USC holds a 34-8 lead in its series with Arizona (not including Troy's 2005 home victory that was later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record 35-8). The Trojans have won the past 7 matchups, 9 of the last 10 and 16 of the last 18. Troy has lost just twice to the Wildcats since 2001. USC won the first 9 games in the series and 15 of the first 16, then later the Trojans had a 7-game winning streak over the Wildcats snapped with a loss in 2009. Nearly half (19) of the USC-Arizona meetings have been decided by 8 points or less. USC has scored at least 24 points in the past 10 meetings and the Trojans have tallied single digits only once in the series.

*In Tucson games, USC is 14-4 (USC also beat UA in a 1916 game played in Phoenix), having won 8 of the past 9 and 9 of the past 11.

*In 2018 in the last meeting in Tucson, USC--aided by a career-best 173-yard, 2-touchdown rushing performance by TB Aca'Cedric Ware--built a 24-0 lead in the third quarter but had to hold on to defeat Arizona, 24-20. It was USC's first road win of 2018 in 3 tries.

*Last year in the Coliseum, TB Kenan Christon came off the bench to run for a pair of long touchdown in his Trojan debut, QB Kedon Slovis threw a pair of TDs, ILB Kana'i Mauga led a defense that shut down Arizona's potent offense and PK Chase McGrath nailed a pair of field goals as USC overcame a rash of ingame injuries and posted a dominant 41-14 Homecoming victory over the Wildcats. USC was up 34-0 before Arizona scored twice in the final quarter against Troy's backups. See page 4 for a complete recap of that most recent matchup.

ROAD OPENERS

*USC is 82-31-8 (.711) all-time in road openers. (Does not include 1 road win vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 83-31-8, .713.) The Nov. 14 game date at Arizona makes this the Trojans' latest road opener since 1918, when it played at Whittier Reform on Nov. 30.

ARTIFICIAL TURF

*USC is 44-30-1 in its last 75 games on artificial turf (not including 3 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 47-30-1).

VERSUS PAC-12

*USC has won 70.0% (475-195-29) of its games against current Pac-12 opponents (not including 9 wins later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 484-195-29, 70.4%).

IN NOVEMBER

*USC has a 264-134-20 (.656) all-time record while playing in the month of November (not including 3 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 267-134-20, .658).

USC-ARIZONA CONNECTIONS

*USC has 7 players from Arizona (S Isaiah Pola-Mao of Phoenix's Mountain Pointe HS, QB Kedon Slovis of Scottsdale's Desert Mountain HS, DL Connor Murphy and OL Andrew Milek both of Phoenix's Brophy Prep, OL AJ Mageo of Mesa's Red Mountain HS and WR Zach Wilson and PK Parker Lewis both of Scottsdale's Saguaro HS), while the Wildcats have 33 Californians.

*USC cornerbacks coach/defensive pass game coordinator Donte Williams was the cornerbacks coach at Arizona in 2016.

*USC defensive line coach Vic So'oto was a linebacker with the Arizona Cardinals (2013).

*USC OL Jalen McKenzie's father, Reggie, was a linebacker with the Arizona Cardinals (1989-90).

*USC S Isaiah Pola-Mao's father, Tracey, played with the Arena League's Arizona Rattlers (1994-96).

*Arizona DB Lorenzo Burns' father, DeChon Burns, lettered at cornerback at USC in 1989.

*Arizona defensive backs coach Greg Burns was an assistant at USC from 2002 to 2005 and again in 2019.

*Arizona offensive line coach Kyle DeVan was an offensive graduate assistant at USC in 2014.

*Arizona assistant baseball coach Dave Lawn previously held a similar position at USC (2001-07).

*Arizona women's basketball director of operations Jessika Carrington previously was an administrative assistant with the USC team (2014-17).

*David Miller, director of on-campus recruiting and basketball analytics for the Arizona men's basketball team, is the son of former USC men's basketball assistant coach Dave Miller.

*John Mosbach, who previously worked in USC's Student-Athlete Academic Services, is a senior associate athletic director for student-athlete development.

FULL GAME NOTES (PDF)