A new look for USC football? UA finds out in tonight’s game

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                </div>If the USC Trojans seem a little snarky tonight when they take on the University of Arizona, the Wildcats can blame their Pac-12 football rivals over in Tempe for providing […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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If the USC Trojans seem a little snarky tonight when they take on the University of Arizona, the Wildcats can blame their Pac-12 football rivals over in Tempe for providing the extra motivation the Trojans will bring into the contest in Los Angeles.

Arizona State rolled over USC in a 62-41 rout in the Trojans’ last game that not only embarrassed the proud, tradition-rich program, but also got its head coach fired.

USC (3-2) has had a bye week to try to re-group under Ed Orgeron, the defensive line coach that was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season.  And Arizona (3-1) has also had the week off following a hugely disappointing 13-31 loss to Washington to break a three-game winning streak.

For the Trojans, it has given them time to circle the wagons after the recent upheaval and plan new game strategies orchestrated by their new coach, who has been a head coach before, most notably at Mississippi.

For both teams, this is a critical point in the schedule because each team is desperate for a conference win to keep their hopes of contending for the Pac-12 title alive.  Arizona has just one conference loss, but the Trojans’ hopes dimmed considerably after losing to ASU because it gave them an 0-2 start.

The Trojans have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Cats.  Arizona, however, has to try to figure out what Orgeron’s game plan will be now that he has the reins.  Since his predecessor, Lane Kiffin, preferred to call his own plays during the games, there will undoubtedly be a different look in that respect as that responsibility is turned back over to the offensive coordinator.

Regardless of what changes are put in place for the play calling, the big intangible is going to be the mindset of the players.  Kiffin, who was fired even before the team got back to campus following the ASU game, was not particularly well-liked and the program has suffered through seven losses over the last 10 games.  His removal has actually lifted the team’s spirits and will have the players in a better place mentally to meet this challenge.

“I did tell the players that this game is going to be more difficult because USC is going to play extremely fired up, loose, and will come out with a chip on their shoulder” said Arizona’s second-year head coach Rich Rodriguez at his weekly press conference.  “We will get USC’s best shot.”

And how potent that ‘best shot’ is will depend, in part, on the status of Marqise Lee.  The junior wide receiver broke the Pac-12 receiving record last season against Arizona when he piled up 345 yards and contributed two touchdowns.  USC, ranked No. 10 coming into that 2012 game, ran up 469 yards of offense, third-best in the FBS record books, but still lost in a huge upset to the Cats, 39-36.

And that’s just one more reason the Trojans will playing their best.  Revenge is always a powerful motivator.

Lee injured his knee in the ASU game and has been a questionable starter this week, although he’s made it clear that he feels he will be ready to go.  So Arizona has to plan for him.

“”We didn’t have an answer for him last year,” Rodriguez admitted.  “He got open, got involved, and we just couldn’t catch up with him.”

The Cats will also have to try to corral USC’s running back tandem of Tre Madden and Justin Davis.  They each ran for more than 100 yards against the Sun Devils.

Arizona is averaging just over 402 yards a game, but will be pitted against one of the best defenses in the conference tonight, despite the lapse against ASU.

Considering what’s on the line tonight, the Fox Sports network will probably be glad it chose to beam this one out to the fans.  This should be a good one.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)