Score: USC 48, Arizona 41
USC (4-1) safety T.J. McDonald intercepted two Nick Foles passes and recovered an onside kick, and Trojan QB Matt Barkley passed for a school-record 468 yards to beat Arizona (1-4) in an offensive show for both teams.
Barkley had four TD passes, ran for a TD and had one INT on 32-of-39 passing. WR Robert Woods had 255 yards and two TDs on 14 receptions. He leads the nation in receptions per game and is third in receiving yards per game and fourth in all-purpose yardage.
True freshman WR Marqise Lee added 144 yards and one TD on eight receptions. This was another school record for two receivers. RB Curtis McNeal contributed 74 yards and one TD on seven carries.
The USC OL has struggled this season, especially with run-blocking, but this was another game without a sack, and it allowed Barkley time to make the necessary throws.
USC specials teams played well, and true freshman kicker Andre Heidari made both field-goal attempts, including one from 46 yards. They also forced Arizona to miss two extra-point attempts. The Trojans averaged 30 yards on four kickoff returns.
Coach Lane Kiffin’s play-calling fooled Arizona, coming out with an aggressive passing attack when they figured he would pound the ball at them. He was able to get the ball to Woods by moving him all over the field and then use Woods to set up others.
However, after a slow start including two interceptions in the first quarter, Arizona QB Nick Foles was unstoppable with 41-of-53 passing for 425 yards and four TDs. Foles spread the ball to 12 receivers, led by WR Dan Buckner’s 88 yards on six receptions. Of course, Foles also threw for 398 yards against both the No. 9* Oregon Ducks and No. 6* Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Freshman RB Ka’Deem Carey rushed for two touchdowns and caught another scoring pass for the Wildcats with 34 yards on 12 carries and 45 yards on three receptions.
This is the second game in a row that USC has given up 40 points, and it is the first time this has happened in 119 years. USC self-destructed against Arizona State with four turnovers and critical penalties, but this time it was Foles who spread the field so well and continued to be as accurate as in previous games.
The USC defense was effective in its first three games against inferior teams. USC’s defensive game plan against the potent Arizona passing attack was to limit the big plays, and the longest play was a 27-yard swing pass. However, the past two games have shown that it doesn’t work against spread-style offenses, and the Trojans must change their defensive approach to improve.
USC won the turnover battle for the first time this season and had only three penalties. One was another questionable personal foul, but a rare sideline infraction against Kiffin, who was several feet on the field and over 35 yards away from the play, was ridiculous.
This penalty had never been called against Kiffin as a head coach. There was some consolation, as Arizona coach Mike Stoops was called for the same penalty later in the game, but he had been further on the field many times before that.
This is the second game in a row that there have been strange calls by the officials. We thought the Pac-12 was going to fix that, but fans find it difficult that there are still officials like Jay Stricherz.
USC has a bye week and then faces the California Golden Bears (3-1) on a Thursday night game on October 13 in AT&T Park. This is a key game for the Trojans before traveling to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on October 22.
*Week 6 AP ranking