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USC football vs. Washington State: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Trojans battle Cougars

Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown #8 celebrates with tight end Tyler Petite #82 of the USC Trojans after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game against the UNLV Rebels at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown #8 celebrates with tight end Tyler Petite #82 of the USC Trojans after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game against the UNLV Rebels at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – USC coach Clay Helton won a Rose Bowl and a Pac-12 championship in his first two full seasons as head coach. But Helton already finds himself on the hot seat after an ugly 1-2 start to the 2018 season heading in Friday night's home game with undefeated Washington State.

TV: 10:30 ET, ESPN. LINE: USC -3.5

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The Trojans, who opened the season with a less than impressive 43-21 victory over perennial Mountain West doormat UNLV, come in off back-to-back road losses at Stanford (17-3) and Texas (37-14) that has some USC supporters demanding that Helton and/or athletic director Lynn Swann be fired. For his part, Helton, who has been in this spot before -- the Trojans were 3-2 in 2015 when Helton took for over for Steve Sarkisian and eventually won the Pac-12 South with an 8-4 record and then started 1-3 in 2016 en route to a 10-3 finish and a 52-49 Rose Bowl win over Penn State -- and seems to relish the challenge of turning around a season that features a talented but true freshman at quarterback in JT Daniels and a number of key injuries or suspensions on the offensive line and in the secondary. "I don't want (people to) mistake being upbeat (for saying) that I don't care, a concern and an effort level to make sure our seniors are ... Pac-12 champions again," Helton told the Los Angeles Times. "When times are tough, you get to see exactly who you are and if you have the availability to lead. I love being a leader." Meanwhile, Washington State, which has won two of the last three meetings with the Trojans, has cruised to easy wins over Wyoming (41-19), San Jose State (31-0) and FCS opponent Eastern Washington (59-24) heading into its Pac-12 opener.

ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12)

Despite the graduation of Pac-12 record-setting quarterback Luke Falk, the Cougars haven't missed a beat yet offensively with East Carolina grad transfer Gardner Minshew II earning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors after throwing for a career-high 470 yards on 45-of-57 passing and two touchdowns and no interceptions in the win over Eastern Washington. "I think he's done a good job," Cougars coach Mike Leach said of Minshew making the transition to WSU's Air Raid offense so quickly. "I think the biggest thing was a little bit schematically, but just getting used to the players around him because we have a very young receiving corps." One of those receivers, sophomore Travell Harris, was named conference Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and leads the Pac-12 with a 37-yard average on kickoff returns.

ABOUT USC (1-2, 0-1)

Daniels, the reigning national prep player of the year by Gatorade and Max Preps after leading Mater Dei High School of Santa Ana, Calif., to the mythical national title, has completed 67-of-117 passes for 819 yards and just one TD while being intercepted three times. He hasn't received much help from an anemic Trojan running game which ranks 116th nationally averaging only 109.3 yards per game and 3.6 yards per attempt and is coming in off a Texas loss that saw them finish with minus-five yards rushing on 16 attempts. The defense will be missing star DE/LB Porter Gustin, who had two sacks at Texas, for the first half after a targeting penalty in the second half against the Longhorns and two starters at safety in Bubba Bolden (suspended) and Isaiah Pola-Mao (dislocated shoulder).

EXTRA POINTS

1. USC has a 17-game winning streak at the Los Angeles Coliseum, including 12 in a row over Pac-12 opponents, dating back to a 17-12 loss to Washington on Oct. 8, 2015, Sarkisian's final game as head coach. 

2. Washington State RB James Williams rushed for three touchdowns in the win over Eastern Washington, the first Cougar to do that since Carl Winston in 2012 against Washington.

3. Trojans sophomore PK Chase McGrath, who has connected on 18-of-25 field goals and 58-of-59 PATs in his career, tore an ACL in the Texas loss and will miss the rest of the season.

PREDICTION: USC 20, Washington State 17

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