WSU Falls To USC, 50-16

Game week news and notes for WSU vs. USC. Kickoff is this Saturday at noon on FSN. For everything Cougars, head over to SB Nation's CougCenter. For the latest updates on Seattle Sports, follow SB Nation Seattle on Twitter.

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WSU Falls To USC 50-16

Pullman, WA (Sports Network) – Matt Barkley threw for three touchdown passes, as 20th-ranked Southern California opened Pac-10 play by routing Washington State, 50-16, at Martin Stadium.

Barkley was 16-of-25 for 290 yards with two interceptions.

Stanley Havili caught five passes for 107 yards and one touchdown while adding another score on the ground for the Trojans (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10), who are not only banned from postseason play, but also from challenging for a conference title due to NCAA penalties.

Jeff Tuel completed 24-of-37 passes for 222 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions for the Cougars (1-3, 0-1), who have lost 12 in a row to FBS opponents.

Jared Karstetter had 87 yards and two scores on eight receptions in defeat.

Washington State got the ball to begin the game and used a little trickery in taking an early 7-0 lead. On first down from the USC 29, Tuel dished to wide receiver Jeffrey Solomon and he found Karstetter in the end zone.

The Trojans answered on their first play from scrimmage, as Havili rumbled 59 yards for a touchdown. Tuel was picked off on the second play of the next series and Nickell Robey’s 25-yard return put USC up 14-7. The game was not even four minutes old at that point.

USC’s quick-strike offense struck again following a WSU punt. Starting from his own 24-yard line, Barkley hit Havili for a 58-yard gain. Allen Bradford then ran for seven yards before Barkley extended the lead to 21-7 with an 11- yard TD pass to Robert Woods with 6:52 remaining in the opening frame.

The second quarter featured a litany of mistakes.

WSU converted a Barkley interception into a six-yard TD pass from Tuel to Karstetter. However, the extra point was blocked.

Bradford fumbled on USC’s next possession, but Tuel was immediately picked off again by Robey. Barkley took the Trojans 62 yards on 13 plays, with Marc Tyler’s two-yard TD run capping the time-consuming drive.

Tuel threw another interception on the next series and the Trojans had a chance to add to their lead, but Joe Houston missed a 39-yard field goal as the half expired.

Following the break, Barkley engineered a four-play, 93-yard drive to start the third quarter. The sophomore signal-caller hit Brice Butler for a seven- yard score, and a two-point conversion gave USC a 36-13 lead.

The Trojans led by 30 points after Ronald Johnson hauled in a seven-yard TD pass from Barkley later in the third.

Mitch Mustain completed a 22-yard TD pass to Havili in the fourth quarter.

WSU recorded the final points of the game on Nico Grasu’s 44-yard field goal.

Game Notes

Bradford rushed for 84 yards and Havili had 80 yards on four carries…Lane Kiffin became the first USC head coach since Jess Hill in 1951 to begin his Trojan career at 4-0…The Cougars have dropped eight in a row to USC…Washington State was winless against conference foes last season.

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USC Pulls Away In The Third, Leads WSU 43-13

After three quarters, USC leads WSU 43-13. USC used drives of 95 and 98 yards to put the game out of reach in the third. Ronald Johnson was the star of the show in the third and Barkley looked to him frequently.

The backups are in for USC, with Mitch Mustain at quarterback and DIllon Baxter seeing plenty of action in the backfield.

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Score Flash: WSU Trails USC At Half, 28-13

At the half, the Washington State Cougars trail USC 28-13.

The Cougs came out and drove the field to open the game, capping nine play, 80 yard drive with a 29 yard strike to Jared Karstetter from wide receiver Jeffrey Solomon. USC answer on the next play from scrimmage with a 59-yard Stanley Havili rush.

On the ensuing possession, Jeff Tuel was picked off and Nickell Robey raced 25 yards for the score on the return.

The first half was filled with interceptions and mistakes by both sides. Tuel threw three interceptions, Barkley had two interceptions and USC running back Allen Bradford had a fumble.

USC will have the ball to start the half. With the WSU offense rolling, the defense needs to step-up to make this a game.

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USC Game Day Links

Plenty of links to get you caught up on the action ahead of today’s matchup.

Vince Grippi has his usual morning linkpost.
CougCenter has their links.
Conquest Chronicles also has plenty of links to share.

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WSU Injury Report: Nwachukwu Back, Cougs Relatively Healthy

After sitting out last week’s game against SMU, injured safety Chima Nwachukwu is back this week and looks ready to go. Nwachukwu landed hard in practice ahead of the SMU game, injuring his neck and suffering an apparent concussion along the way.

The Spokesman-Review’s Vince Grippi passed along the rest of the injury report, much of which was good news for the Cougs.

Tyson Pencer, who has a hip injury that also is affecting his groin, won’t suit up this week. Everyone else who has been nicked up (like Nwachukwu and Chantz Staden) practiced Thursday and looks as if they will play

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USC Injury Report: USC Safety Drew McAllister Out, Suspended Sophomore Patrick Hall In

USC safety Drew McAllister couldn’t recover from hip surgery and will spend the rest of the season on the sidelines after undergoing another procedure. In other news, Patrick Hall has been reinstated and will rejoin the Trojans. Hall was suspended for undisclosed reasons late in the fall camp.

Sports Illustrated had a report on both.

McAllister played extensively as a backup defensive back and on special teams as a sophomore last season. He missed spring practice with the 20th-ranked Trojans after a prior surgery on his hip.

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Jim Moore Sees Progress, Says Cougs Have A Shot At The Upset

Unabashed Coug lover Jim Moore dropped his latest column yesterday after spending some quality time in Pullman over the week. Moore sees some progress and wouldn’t be shocked if the Cougs pull an upset.

I guess all I’m saying is this — the Cougs have a shot against USC. Maybe it’s a good shot, maybe it isn’t. The point is, they’ve got one. Last year and the year before, they didn’t.

We’ll see if Moore’s right today at 12 p.m. in Pullman.

For more on the Cougs, check out SB Nation’s CougCenter.

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CougCenter Previews USC, Pushes WSU Heisman Candidate Reid Forrest

With USC on the horizon, CougCenter’s Craig Powers put together his weekly preview yesterday.

With his usual look at the offense and defense, he added the Trojans’ special teams to the mix, mostly due to their standout return game through the first three games.

Washington State’s improved special teams coverage will be severely tested this Saturday. Ronald Johnson is averaging 19.17 yards per punt return and has a touchdown. Robert Woods is averaging 25.3 yards per kick return and also has a touchdown. These guys can make game-changing plays (as Woods did against Minnesota). If WSU wants to hang around, they will absolutely need to shut the return game down.

As he does every week, Craig also looked at what events could spell trouble for USC.

The Trojans are in trouble if…The defense gives up lots of yards and points in the passing game. Hawai’i put a scare into them at the start of the season and gave every other team on their schedule a blueprint for success.

Craig wasn’t done, however. With his pet-project, the Reid Forrest Heisman campaign, in full swing, he took the opportunity to examine Reid’s chances this week.

I’ll ignore the fact that there is no way Reid Forrest is anything less than the best punter in the country, regardless of class and continue on to his omission from the “Big Board” altogether. As we’ve clearly established on this website, Reid Forrest is a once-in-a-lifetime talent. He is the best running back in the country, AND THAT’S NOT EVEN HIS PRIMARY POSITION. He has freaking national monuments and parks named for him. How did you miss that, Mel? Is there an Andrew Luck National Park? No, and there never will be.

Get on the bandwagon or be left behind, people.

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Jeff Tuel Marks A One-Year Anniversary Against USC

One year ago, Jeff Tuel had his baptism by fire, taking on the USC Trojans at the Coliseum. The wide-eyed freshman saw his first action against USC, generating excitement in the fan-base with his play right out of the gate.

The Spokesman-Review's Vince Grippi took a look at Tuel and his maturation as the Cougars’ quarterback.

"He was a little shocked in L.A. against USC," remembers receiver Daniel Blackledge. "He was a little jittery (in the huddle), but after those first couple of plays, he kind of settled in."
[…]
"He’s taken more of a vocal approach this year," Blackledge said. "He’s really confident and he’s taken more of a leadership role."

Tuel and the Cougars take on the USC Trojans on Saturday at 12 p.m.

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C.J. Mizell Still Struggling With Effort

Talented freshman C.J. Mizell has the physical tools to be a great player, but still hasn’t mastered the mental side of the game. When we openly begged for the freshman to play more, Mizell’s effort in practice came to the forefront.

After a week of better practices ahead of Montana State, Mizell continues to dog it in practice again this week. The Spokesman-Review’s Vince Grippi passed along his observations from yesterday’s practice.

Mizell’s first attempt was about half speed and he barely made contact with the ball carrier. He was told to do it again. Same effort. Again. Same effort. Now other players are yelling, because the drill has ground to a halt. Again. Same effort. Again. Same effort. Finally, Mizell was told to start running, which he did around the defensive practice field. Slowly, until the drill ended.

The coaching staff has sent a clear message about effort in practice. If players aren’t giving it their all, they won’t see significant game time. For now, Mizell will find himself on the sidelines more often than not.

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NCAA: WSU vs. USC Game Week

After a surprisingly competitive game last weekend against SMU, the WSU Cougars host the USC Trojans this Saturday in Pullman. The Cougs showed improvement on both sides of the ball against the Mustangs, but now face the tough task of hosting perennial Pac-10 power USC.

WSU made it out of the game fairly unscathed, with only a few players sitting out due to injury. The Spokesman-Review's Vince Grippi had a list of players resting during practice yesterday, and a note about freshman Toni Pole that should be disappointing for Cougar fans.

There was one big guy missing and that was freshman Toni Pole. His calf injury got infected last week and he underwent surgery to clean it out. He's out of the hospital already. Though there is no official word, I'm guessing the true freshman defensive tackle will now redshirt

Pole was a promising freshman who likely wouldn't seen significant action in the defensive line rotation. Also sitting out were Jared Karstetter, Tyson Pencer, Anthony Carpenter, Chantz Staden, Chima Nwachukwu and freshman Eric Oertel. Most of these players were nursing tweaks and bumps, with Staden's knee and Nwachukwu's neck being the biggest concerns.

Freshman Deone Bucannon had the hit of the week this week, laying out an SMU receiver on the first possession in what looked to be a clean hit. The freshman safety was flagged, prolonging the drive and leading to an SMU score. Senior Kevin Kooyman spoke up on behalf of Bucannnon to Grippi.

"I definitely feel the Deone one was an iffy call," Kooyman said of an early penalty that helped SMU score. "The ball was tipped and the receiver is fair game after that. He hit him with his shoulder, you could see it on the replay. It was clean hit. It was a big hit. It was a wrong decision."

Kooyman also had himself a game on Saturday, which we examined in our post-game recap at CougCenter.

Kevin Kooyman had the game of his life. The senior defensive end was glued to SMU quarterback Kyle Padron's hip pocket most of the day. When he wasn't, Kooyman got his hands up and still made plays. At one point, Kooyman came around the end, stripped Padron, recovered and made the tackle across the field.

We're a quarter of the way through the season now, so it's time to start reflecting on what we've seen thus far. Jeff Nusser, of CougCenter, feels good, but not great, about the improvements on the field.

Yeah, they got lit up a little in the second half at times -- especially in the third quarter. But even in the midst of the third quarter, I saw a defense that wasn't completely lost. June Jones put together a good strategy for attacking our weak spots, and small breakdowns led to completions. But even through all of that, the defensive players never had that "here we go again" look in their eyes. Lots of resiliency there, which was great to see.

[...]

But for as good as I feel about the potential and progress of the defense, I feel equally bad about the offense.

So what's the problem with the offense? Well it starts with the man in charge, offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy.

When the offense comes out with two tight ends, one running back and two wide receivers, the defense can compact itself into the middle of the field, taking away running lanes and clogging the middle. The offensive line and tight ends simply aren't good enough to run it up the gut in these situations.

So while it was a competitive game, the game still could've gone much better in the end. The Cougars sure looked improved, but it left fans wanting more, knowing they had a chance to seize that game but missed out.

The Cougs attention turns to the USC Trojans this weekend. The Trojans come to Pullman after a shaky non-conference schedule that exposed some holes on both sides of the ball. While USC doesn't look as good as they have in years past, WSU will still have a tough time staying with the more talented Trojans.

WSU and USC kick it off at noon on Saturday in Pullman.

For more on the Cougars, check out SB Nation's CougCenter.

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