WHEN USC HAS THE BALL
What will Norm Chow pull out of his playbook next? Washington State Coach Bill Doba has to be asking that question after watching the Trojans work around a hobbled Mike Williams by turning tailback Reggie Bush and fullback Brandon Hancock into big-play receivers against Washington. Williams, a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, says he is near full strength, but high ankle sprains are not so forgiving. This could be the game freshmen receivers Steve Smith and Whitney Lewis make an impact, especially if the offensive line keeps the sack-happy Cougars away from quarterback Matt Leinart. The Trojans have rushed for at least 195 yards in each of their last four games.
WHEN WASHINGTON ST. HAS THE BALL
Matt Kegel certainly wasn't a model of efficiency last week when he threw five interceptions against Oregon State, but he did lead the Cougars to a comeback victory. Kegel spreads the wealth among a talented group of receivers, none of whom is listed among the conference leaders in receptions or yards receiving. And, lest anyone forget that Washington State can run the ball, please refer to last season, when Jermaine Green sprinted 75 yards for a touchdown in the Cougars' overtime victory at Pullman, Wash. If it's a close game, Washington State's most important weapon could be Drew Dunning, who kicked three field goals against USC last season, one a 35-yarder that sent the game into overtime, then a 35-yarder that won it. Dunning has made 19 of 21 field-goal attempts this season.
KEYS TO USC VICTORY
Establish the run. The Trojans cannot afford to mess with a winning formula. They must run through, or around, the nation's third-best rushing defense.
Protect Leinart. The offensive line must fend off a Cougar defense that leads the conference in sacks.
Special attention. Trojans need kicker Ryan Killeen to regain his form after he struggled last week. The punt unit must keep Washington State away from Tom Malone.
HOW THEY COMPARE
*--* USC WSU 39.9 Scoring 33.2 19.9 Points allowed 16.9 283.6 Passing offense 295.0 160.5 Rushing offense 119.0 444.1 Total offense 414.0 257.7 Passing defense 235.7 79.9 Rushing defense 68.1 337.6 Total defense 303.8