The Dirty Dozen of WSU vs. USC

IT'S HEISMAN CENTRAL vs. Underdog U. David vs. Goliath. Perennial power vs. Palouse pride. If Washington State featured a defense as good as its offense, Saturday's regionally televised game with No. 1 USC might be billed as a showdown of the two best signal callers in the Pac-10. Instead, the crimson faithful are hoping for what would likely be the greatest upset in 113 years of Cougar football.


Three weeks ago, most people had never heard of Appalachian State before Appy won at Michigan. A WSU win over USC would not be that big an upset, but it would rank mighty, mighty close.

1. View From Pullman:
Dreary? Overcast? Torrential rain? The Trojans are just flat-out good -- make that great -- with far more speed than WSU. All the Cougars need to win is perhaps the greatest offensive performance in school history, improvement on defense and special teams that borders on the humanly impossible, and maybe a few minor auto accidents involving key USC players on the way to the game.

2. View From Los Angeles:
Smoggy, save for the three hours the Trojans should make it crystal clear why they're the No. 1 team in the land. The Cougars, however, look like they can score on anybody. Alex Brink and those receivers are a lot better than even crimson-bleeding Cougar diehards sometimes grasp.

3. Scouting Report:
Some cold, hard facts: WSU has defeated USC four times in 42 visits to Los Angeles, and two of those were prior to 1934. The Trojans have won 34 straight home games. The Cougars give up an average of 29 points and 403 yards per game, and two of their three games have been against teams that would get crushed by Appalachian State. Still, it's worth noting that WSU's offense averages a whopping 6.6 yards every time the ball is snapped. That's even more impressive than USC's lofty 6.0 average.

4. Betcha Didn't Know:
USC began playing football in 1888 (six years before WSU), but the Trojans did not produce an All-American until 1925. That first All-American was Brice Taylor, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound guard (yes, guard -- and everyone played both ways back then) out of Seattle's Franklin High School. Taylor, a descendent of American Indian chief Tecumseh, was born without a left hand.

5. The Rankings: ranks WSU 37th, up from 50th last week. USC is everyone's No. 1.

6. Cougar Trivia Department:
The Trojans offered WSU starting offensive tackle Vaughn Lesuma a scholarship after his first year of junior college -- the first year in his life that Lesuma (a rugby and basketball standout in Fiji) played football. However, NCAA rules barred Lesuma was transferring to a Division I school without his Associate of Arts degree because he originally attended Brigham Young-Hawaii for one semester. Lesuma blossomed into a second-team JC All-American last year, but the Trojans did not pursue him again, and WSU won a spirited recruiting war thanks largely to Lesuma's respect for offensive line coach George Yarno.

7. Trojan Trivia Department:
The only USC player from Washington is free safety Taylor Mays from Seattle's O'Dea High. Mays, the son of former Washington Husky and NFL player Stafford Mays, has started since he was a true freshman last year. WSU's roster includes 35 Californians and five others who played at California junior colleges.

8. Alumni Hall:
Many fans know that John Wayne played football at USC, but did you know he went by his real name of Marion Morrison? Few schools have produced more NFL standouts than USC. Among them: Marcus Allen, Anthony Munoz, Ronnie Lott, Junior Seau, Ron Yary, Frank Gifford, Lynn Swann, Bruce Matthews, Tony Boselli, Ricky Bell and (blush) O.J. Simpson. Baseball alums include Randy Johnson, Tom Seaver, Fred Lynn, Barry Zito, Bret Boone and Barry Zito. Ex-Trojan basketball players include Lisa Leslie, Cheryl Miller, Bill Sharman, Paul Westphal and Gus Williams.

9. Cougar Talk:
Bill Doba, head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, on WSU's defense: "We're trying to find an identity. We're not playing very well, to be honest with you. I don't know if I'm not coaching them well enough or we're trying to do some things they're not familiar with."

10. Trojan Talk:
Pete Carroll, head coach, on Cougar quarterback Alex Brink: "Oh man, I love him. I think he's playing great. Obviously, that's no overstatement -- he's completing almost 74 percent of his passes. He's off to a fantastic start."

11. Opinion Of The Week:
This might be the week that Cougar coaches take the reigns off super frosh Jeshua Anderson. His one kickoff return and his one touchdown catch both went for 39 yards. Anderson has the type of blurry-fast speed that even the Trojans would struggle to match, and the closest thing USC might have to a weakness is its secondary.

12. And Your Final Score Is:
USC 52, Washington State 24.

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