Football | September 12, 2021
*USC visits the Palouse for the first time since 2017 when it plays its 2021 road opener against Washington State on FOX this Saturday afternoon.
*Offensively, it will be a battle of versions of the Air Raid (USC) versus Run-n-Shoot (WSU).
*WSU only has beaten USC 10 times in 74 overall tries (and its past 3 wins came on late field goals). The Trojans have lost just 4 times in Pullman.
*USC, coming off a loss to Stanford, previously has lost its Pac-12 opener 40% of the time in the past 20 seasons, but historically has rebounded well, including winning 3 Rose Bowls and a national title and averaging 9 victories in those seasons.
*Several USC coaches once coached at WSU, and several Cougar assistants once were at USC.
*USC’s offense, averaging more than 420 yards per game, is guided by 2-year starting QB Kedon Slovis, who ranks in the Trojan all-time Top 10 in passing and total offense while hitting nearly 70% of his career passes for almost 6,000 yards and exactly 50 TDs. WR Drake London is Troy’s leading pass catcher this season, with WRs Tahj Washington and Gary Bryant Jr. also getting increased attention. TBs Vavae Malepeai and Keaontay Ingram are both 1,000-yard career runners. DT Tuli Tuipulotu and Ss Calen Bullock, Chase Williams and Greg Johnson sit atop the Trojan tackling leaders so far. PK Alex Stadthaus filled in nicely on placekicks against Stanford, while Aussie P Ben Griffiths — who turns 30 this week — is averaging almost 47 yards per boot in 2021. Head coach Clay Helton, who has captured a Rose Bowl, a Pac-12 Championship Game and 2 South Division titles, has won nearly 74% of his Pac-12 games to rank in the league’s Top 10 all-time win percentage for conference games.
*Washington State, playing its third consecutive home game, bounced back from a season opening loss to easily dispatch Portland State last weekend. Second-year head coach Nick Rolovich’s Cougars have 20 returning starters. QB Jayden de Laura controls the offense, which also features RB Max Borghi and WRs Travell Harris, who has 109 career catches and also is a dangerous returner, and Calvin Jackson Jr. The Cougar defense is led by LB Jahad Woods, the Pac-12’s active leading tackler, along with LB Justus Rogers and DB Tanner Moku.
*USC and Washington State are not ranked in the current AP sports media poll and USA Today coaches polls.
*USC leads its series with Washington State, which dates back to 1921, 60-10-4 (not including 1 win vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 61-10-4). The Trojans have won 37 of the last 43 meetings (and 43 of the past 50).
*Playing against the Cougars in the state of Washington (Pullman, Spokane and Seattle), USC is 19- 4-2, with the losses (1930, 1986, 2002 and 2017) and ties (1937 and 1950) coming in Pullman. In Pullman games, USC is 15-4-2, with wins in 11 of its last 13 trips there. However, the Trojans lost 30-27 in 2017 in the most recent Pullman meeting when Cougar PK Erik Powell hit a 32-yard field goal with 1:40 to play.
*In the teams’ last meeting, in the Coliseum in 2020, a record-setting performance of 4 first quarter touchdown passes from QB Kedon Slovis to WR Amon-Ra St. Brown propelled No. 16 USC to a dominant 38-13 Sunday victory over Washington State. St. Brown’s 4 scores — 7, 22, 4 and 2 yards on USC’s first possessions of the game — tied an NCAA record for most touchdowns of any kind in a quarter. He became just the second player in NCAA history to catch 4 TDs in a quarter. He also tied the Pac-12 and USC records for most TD receptions in a game. The game was originally scheduled for Friday but was moved back 2 days to allow for the return of USC players in isolation due to COVID-19 positive test or in quarantine from contact tracing, making it was just the fifth Sunday game in Trojan history. The game’s start time was also adjusted 90 minutes earlier to 4:30 p.m. so it could conclude in time for L.A. County’s recently-instituted 10 p.m. curfew. The Trojans were coming off a week’s pause in play due to COVID issues (their home game versus Colorado was not played), while WSU’s previous 2 games were cancelled for COVID issues in its program. See page 4 for a complete recap of that most recent matchup.
*In road openers, USC is 83-31-8 (.713). (Does not include 1 road win vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 84-31-8, .715 on the road.)
*USC has won 70.0% (479-197-29) of its games against current Pac-12 opponents (not including 9 wins later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 488-197-29, 70.4%).
*USC has a 187-54-8 (.767) all-time record while playing in the month of September (does not include 3 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 190-54-8, .770).
*USC is 46-30-1 in its last 77 games on artificial turf (not including 3 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 49-30-1).
USC-WASHINGTON STATE CONNECTIONS
*USC offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Graham Harrell was an offensive analyst (2014) and outside receivers coach (2015) at Washington State.
*USC offensive line coach Clay McGuire held the same job at Washington State for 6 years (2012-17).
*USC wide receivers coach Keary Colbert played for the Seattle Seahawks in 2008.
*USC women’s soccer head coach Keidane McAlpine and associate head coach Jason Lockhart held similar positions at Washington State in 2012 and 2013, while the Trojans’ director of soccer operations Carla Hayden was an event manager at WSU from 2010 to 2014.
*USC women’s rowing head coach Josh Adam came to USC after serving as an assistant at Washington State (2011-17).
*USC assistant director of event management Garrett D’Angelo is a Washington State graduate who worked in athletic event management at WSU as a student.
*WSU WR Carter Kamana’s grandfather, John Kamana (center in 1953-54), and uncle, John Kamana (fullback and wide receiver in 1980-83), played at USC.
*WSU SNP Simon Samarzich’s father, Dave Samarzich, attended USC, where he roomed with former Trojan and NFL offensive line great Bruce Matthews.
*WSU safeties coach Mark Banker was a USC assistant in 1996.
*WSU offensive analyst Dan Ferrigno was a USC assistant was a USC assistant in 2000.
*WSU director of transfer recruiting Justin Mesa spent 7 years (2006-12) on USC’s football staff, including 3 seasons as an offensive graduate assistant.
— to usctrojans.com