Arizona Wildcats at USC Trojans (-6, 47.5)
The Lane Kiffin era has ended and it will be interim coach Ed Orgeron running the team when USC hosts Arizona in Thursday’s crucial Pac-12 contest. Athletic director Pat Haden fired Kiffin after the Trojans suffered a 62-41 loss to Arizona State on Sept. 28 and Orgeron is looking to overcome a 0-2 start in conference play. Arizona is coming off a loss to Washington and needs a victory over USC to remain a factor in the Pac-12 South race.
Orgeron went 10-25 as head coach of Mississippi from 2005-07 and has made it a major priority to change the mood of the team. “I want our guys to believe and have a little fun,” Orgeron said. “One of the things we can do as a staff is get really close to our players, circle the wagons, have fun, and let the chips fall where they may.” Trojans receiver Marqise Lee (knee) could miss the game, which won’t sadden Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez too much due to Lee catching 16 passes for a Pac-12 record 345 yards against the Wildcats last season. “We didn’t have any answer for him last year,” Rodriguez said. “He got open, got involved, and we just couldn’t catch up with him.”
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1.
LINE: Southern Cal opened as a 5-point favorite and moved to -6. The total opened at 48.5 and was bet down to 47.5.
WEATHER: Temperatures in low 60s with clear skies and winds blowing west at 5 mph.
ABOUT ARIZONA (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12 South, 2-2 ATS): Junior running back Ka’Deem Carey is looking for his eighth consecutive 100-yard outing and has scored at least one touchdown in 17 of his last 18 games. Senior quarterback B.J. Denker is only a 50 percent passer and tossed his first two interceptions of the campaign in the loss to Washington but excels as a rusher (280 yards, team-high six touchdowns). An opportunistic defense has intercepted seven passes with junior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant recording three – returning two for touchdowns – while freshman outside linebacker Scooby Wright has recorded a team-leading 28 tackles.
ABOUT USC (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12 South, 1-4 ATS): Lee has modest season totals of 30 receptions for 385 yards and was termed questionable by Orgeron on Monday, as was senior outside linebacker Morgan Breslin (hip), who has a team-best 7.5 tackles for loss. Senior running back Silas Redd (knee) could see action for the first time but sophomore Tre Madden (583 yards) has a firm grip on the starting job after topping 100 yards in four of five games. The 62 points allowed against Arizona State matched for worst in school history and was a shocking development considering the presence of stars like Breslin, junior safety Dion Bailey (team-high 28 tackles, two interceptions), junior defensive end George Uko (four sacks) and sophomore defensive end Leonard Williams (seven tackles for loss).
* Wildcats are 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings in Southern California.
* Wildcats are 7-1 ATS in their last eight meetings.
* Under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
* Underdog is 8-0 ATS in their last eight meetings.
1. USC leads the series 28-8, but Arizona posted a 39-36 home win in last season’s meeting.
2. The Wildcats are allowing 14.3 points per game, ninth-best nationally.
3. Trojans sophomore QB Cody Kessler is completing 63.5 percent of his passes with six touchdowns against four interceptions.