Nothing less than the best needed on Saturday

AS A 24-POINT underdog to the No. 1 team in the land, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that WSU will have to play its best game of the season to have a chance at victory. For the Cougar offensive line, the challenge is clear: Play like you did in the Holiday Bowl vs. Texas 10 months ago. The Trojans have plenty of weapons on offense, led by Heisman candidates Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, but it's the defensive front that keeps OL coach <b>George Yarno</b> awake at night.

The Trojan DL is "the best in the country, maybe one of the best of all-time," Yarno says.

Yarno noted that the two inside tackles, All-America candidates Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson, are guys who play hard, are coached well, have great schemes, and generally possess no weaknesses. "You've really got to play your best game to have a chance," Yarno said, "and that's what we're trying to do. We're training to play our best game of the year."

WSU's OL has made huge strides since the start of the season, improving every week and finally giving the Cougar ground attack some traction. The elevated individual play of senior tackles Calvin Armstrong and Sam Lightbody has paved the way. But this weekend, the entire front needs to play at that high level -- a level the Cougar faithful haven't seen since the hosses put on a dominating show in the victory over Texas last December.

Lightbody graded out at 93 percent against Oregon State and Armstrong was at 90 percent the week before against Stanford.

Lightbody left practice early Tuesday holding his hand and was tended to by the training staff. No details at press time.

Armstrong, Nick Mihlhauser, Charles Harris, Bobby Byrd, and Norvell Holmes practiced with the first team O-line.

HEALTH REPORT: Back up DB Wally Dada came away from Tuesday's practice with two leaping sideline interceptions off freshman QB Gary Rogers. But speculation that Dada – or perhaps Tyron Brackenridge or Don Turner - would start against USC in place of injured Alex Teems at cornerback faded quickly Tuesday. Teems, who suffered a slight concussion against Oregon State, was full stream at practice and will start Saturday.

Some scout team players had a new look Tuesday. Those of similar size and speed as Reggie Bush wore a No. 5 jersey, including Tramaine Murray. A couple receivers wore No. 8 for Dwayne Jarrett, a USC freshman who has 27 receptions for 359 yards and 6 touchdowns so far. Jarrett has been USC's main receiving target since Steve Smith broke his leg against Cal.

Cougar WR Greg Prator, who last week caught his first-ever TD pass for the Cougars and sprained his ankle doing it, did not practice Tuesday. TE Cody Boyd participated in his first set of drills since going down against Arizona. Boyd only practiced for the first half of the session, wearing a yellow "non-contact" jersey the whole time.

GAME NOTES: The Cougars are 3-4 overall and 1-3 in Pac-10 play, while No. 1 USC is 7-0 and favored by 24 points. The Cougars are coming off a 38-19 loss at Oregon State, while USC blanked Washington 38-0.

Kickoff is set for 4 pm with a sold-out Dads' Day crowd on hand. A check of Pac-10 teams shows the USC Trojans are the first team to ever play in Martin Stadium when ranked No. 1 in the nation. .Prior to this week the highest ranked opponent to visit Pullman was California in 1951 when the Bears were ranked No. 2; Cal won that game 42-35.

ABC will televise the game live, with Brad Nessler and Bob Griese in the booth and former USC great Lynn Swann on the sidelines.

The Trojans and Cougars have split their last six games with each other. Last year, USC halted a six-game Cougar win streak with a 43-16 win in Los Angeles. The year before, in overtime, the Cougars prevailed at home 30-27.

FAMILIAR FACES: USC's secondary coach is former Cougar standout Greg Burns, and the Trojans' backup kicker is freshman Mario Danelo, son of 1970s Cougar kicking great (and long-time NFL veteran) Joe Danelo. Another Trojan, starting linebacker Dallas Sartz, has connections to Cougar country as well. His dad was an all-city performer at Shadle Park about the same time Joe Danelo was turning heads at Gonzaga Prep.

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