It may be week two for the Pac-12 but it’s week one for the Arizona Wildcats as they get set to host its season opener against No. 20 USC on Saturday, Nov. 14. Here’s the latest edition of Staff Picks where our sports desk gives their predictions for this weekend’s game.
Jacob Mennuti - Loss (Arizona-17, USC-37)
Arizona is going to need a lot of things to go its way if they want to win this game, too many in fact for me to give the Wildcats a win this Saturday. Don’t get me wrong, University of Southern California didn’t play very well for almost the entire game last week against Arizona State University. My biggest concern is that there’s just too much talent on this USC team, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, for them to not win this game.
Arizona’s defense is going to be a work in progress and there's a very good chance that they get sucker punched by Kedon Slovis, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Drake London, Tyler Vaughns and Steven Carr. The fact that I just listed five potential National Football League prospects on one side of the ball for USC tells you all you need to know about how dangerous this offense can be.
Arizona is going to need to establish the tempo early with its run game if they want to be successful. I’m a pretty optimistic person when it comes to this team but I think this mountain is too tough to climb.
Ari Koslow - Loss (Arizona-21, USC-31)
USC is coming off a miraculous opening win over Arizona State that saw them come from behind and score 14 points in the last three minutes of the game, including recovering an onside kick to open the season 1-0. Arizona comes into this game looking to start the season on a high note after seeing their game against Utah last week get cancelled.
USC is a 14-point favorite heading into this contest as the heavy favorite. If Arizona is going to steal this victory from the Trojans, the No. 1 priority will be getting the run game going. USC gave up 258 yards on the ground last week to the Trojans. The Sun Devils top two running backs, DeaMonte Trayanum and Rachaad White combined to average almost seven yards per rush, so Gary Brightwell will have to get going early. Grant Gunnell will also have to be aware when he has a rushing lane instead of forcing a poor throw. Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels ran for over 100 yards on the ground last week. Gunnell isn't quite as mobile, but he needs to take advantage of the easy yards given to him on the ground. If Arizona can get the run game going and slow the game down, that is the best chance they have to take this one.
However, I believe the Trojans offense will be a little too much for Arizona to handle in the end.
C.J. Lala - Loss (Arizona-20, USC-35)
Arizona was originally scheduled to open their season at Utah, after a few members of Utah’s team tested positive for COVID-19 the game was canceled. Now, Arizona will play its first game of the 2020 season at home against No. 20 USC. The Trojans are coming off an incredible comeback 28-27 victory over Arizona State in their opener. This high powered offense for the Trojans led by Arizona-native Kedon Slovis will cause problems for the inexperienced Arizona defense. The Trojans defense caused two key turnovers which allowed them to get back in the game, the biggest factor for Arizona to upset USC is, Grant Gunnell can not have any giveaways. Gunnell can not put his defense in a bad position if Arizona wants to be close in this game. I think the strength of USC’s roster and being able to play last week to get the rust off will be too much for the Wildcats, I’m taking USC to win 35-20.
Ryan Wohl - Loss (Arizona-30, USC-37)
USC had a close win last week against ASU, but their defense underperformed and was very inconsistent. I expect their offense to come out and be more explosive early on and try to use their great running attack against a questionable Wildcat defense.
Arizona has been waiting to get on a football field as their opening game against Utah was cancelled last weekend because of a few Ute players testing positive for COVID-19. I believe that this team is hungrier than ever as their players were mad about not playing yet this season. Arizona needs to establish the run early to capitalize on a weak USC defensive front. This will be a tough test for Grant Gunnell’s first game as the full-time Arizona quarterback.
This will be a high scoring close game, but I think that in the end this Wildcat defense won’t be able to contain Kedon Slovis and this Trojan offense.
Jake Faigus - Loss (Arizona-28, USC-42)
I think that this game on paper is a complete mismatch in favor of USC. Kedon Slovis should have a field day against the Arizona defense. The only reason I think Arizona scores 28 points is because USC was plagued by a number of mistakes last week against ASU, especially on defense. There were a lot of coaching miscues made on that end and I feel like Grant Gunnell and the rest of the Arizona offense will be able to take advantage of that. I think the key for Arizona rests on the run game because this USC defense is clearly vulnerable on the ground because the Sun Devils rushed for 258 yards against them. The USC offense should be able to get whatever they want, and Arizona’s only hope on that end is to force turnovers. If you are an Arizona fan, the only reason you should be looking forward to this game is because it will be the first game that they have played this season since last week’s game against Utah was cancelled due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Utes’ program.
Follow Daily Wildcat Sports on Twitter