TUCSON, Ariz. -- Pac-12 folks have been talking about Nov. 3 all season. Arizona is hoping to make Oct. 27 memorable.
Oregon can wait. This Wildcats' offense is too dangerous to be trifled with. Heck, ESPN GameDay's Kirk Herbstreit already predicted the upset.
Arizona, which runs an offense similar to Oregon's, though far more pass-happy, leads the Pac-12 with 548.7 yards per game. They were notoriously shut out at Oregon, but that game appears to be an anomaly. They've averaged nearly 46 points in their other six games, including scoring 48 against Stanford's rugged defense.
USC defense has been very good this season, ranking second in the Pac-12 and 18th in the nation in scoring, giving up just 16.7 points per game. If the Trojans hold the Wildcats under 30 on the road, that would be a respectable performance. Under 20, and they'd make a declarative statement heading into The Game That Shall Not Be Named On This Day.
Then, of course, there's the obvious mismatch. The Wildcats scrappy but often overwhelmed defense vs. USC's star-studded offense. Arizona has yielded 30.4 points per game. There's a sense that Barkley and his receivers, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, as well as the Trojans' outstanding tight end tandem of Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble, should feast today.
On the other hand, the Wildcats' defense is better against the pass -- sixth in the conference in pass efficiency defense -- than the run, where they rank 10th in the conference and surrender 174 yards per game.
Still, while USC will seek balance, Barkley is the Trojans' bell cow. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez gushed about him this week as perhaps the best quarterback in Pac-12 history, and he's looked that way in two of the past three weeks. That said, the Trojans' offense looked awful two weeks ago against Washington, a team the Wildcats sliced and diced last weekend.
If things go according to the grand scheme, USC and Barkley will win decisively and set up a game next weekend of national import in the Coliseum against the Ducks.
But what is it they say about the best laid plans?