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Jim Moore Predicts: WSU can take advantage of an out-of-sorts USC team

Gardner Minshew and the WSU Cougars have a chance at an upset at USC. (AP)

Forget Stanford and Oregon, the biggest game in the Pac-12 this week is Washington State at USC Friday night. You might disagree. You might even think the Arizona State-Washington game is bigger than Cougs-Trojans, but it’s not as interesting since the Huskies are favored by 17 1/2 points.

Cougs beat Eastern Washington 59-24 to avenge 2016 loss

USC is favored by only 3 1/2 points over the Cougars, and I admit to having a hard time handicapping this game. With the Cougs, I always fight subjective tendencies and try to take an objective look at their upcoming game. I typically fail miserably with that attempt.

There are several reasons why the Trojans are favored. For me, the biggest one is history. We rarely win at Memorial Coliseum, going 6-38-2 all-time. And regardless of what you think about USC’s struggles this year, they’re still USC, and the Trojans are still a move up in class for a Washington State team that has faced and beaten Wyoming, San Jose State and Eastern Washington.

That’s a concern. Sometimes you see horses that win and look great against lesser competition, and you think they’ll hold their own when they move up in class and maybe even continue to win. But against better competition, they lose and sometimes get their doors blown off, and you look at your losing ticket and wonder why you bet on them.

I don’t think the Cougs are as good as they’ve looked and don’t think the Trojans are as bad as they’ve looked. But it sure seems like WSU is in better shape than USC. The Trojans have a freshman quarterback in J.T. Daniels, who is replacing Sam Darnold and not playing well, contributing to USC’s 1-2 start.

I’ll give USC a pass for their 17-3 loss to Stanford – the Cardinal is in the top 10. But no such passes for a 37-14 loss at Texas last week. The Longhorns lost to an average Maryland team this year and still came up with 10 1/2 tackles for loss against USC.

On the other side of the ball, USC had a tepid pass rush against Texas, and that plays into one of the Cougs’ strengths – Washington State has allowed only two sacks of Gardner Minshew this season.

Senior linebacker Porter Gustin will miss the first half of Friday night’s game because of a targeting ejection in the second half of the Texas game. That will also help the Cougs – Gustin leads the Trojans with 3 1/2 sacks.

Things are so out of sorts with the Trojans that questions are circulating about coach Clay Helton’s job status. even wonders if Pete Carroll would be interested in coming back if the Trojans and Seahawks continue to go south.

OK, here we go again, what I hope happens might not happen, but the heck with logic and history. Gimme the Cougs and the points. WSU 34, USC 31.

Arizona State at Washington (-17 1/2)

I thought the Sun Devils would lose to San Diego State like they did after upsetting Michigan State the week before. But to be honest, I thought the Sun Devils would lose to the Spartans and was wrong about that. I wasn’t a fan of the Herm Edwards hiring, feeling like he’d been away from coaching too long to make a positive impact. But I might be wrong about that too.

Love Manny Wilkins and N’Keal Harry, but that Husky defense will limit their success. Can’t see a repeat of last year’s upset in the desert. Dawgs 38, Sun Devils 10.

No. 10 UW Huskies’ defense has been dominating in early going