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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 7 PRIMER

The Locals

October 16, 1998|ROBYN NORWOOD

USC (4-2, 2-1) at Washington State (3-3, 0-3)

* Kickoff: 7:15 p.m., Fox Sports West.

* Story line: The Trojans have to put aside the collapse against Cal and regain their footing to keep the season from becoming a terrible disappointment. Washington State is already in far more dire circumstances, with three Pacific 10 losses by an average of more than 21 points, only a season after playing in the Rose Bowl game.

* USC update: The Trojans are still searching for an offense. They rank last in the Pac-10 in passing yardage at 180 yards a game and tailback Chad Morton is still at less than 100%. And now USC needs to relocate a defense that folded in last week's 21-point second-half comeback by Cal. One concern: This will be only the second road game of the season for USC--Florida State was the other--and with temperatures in the 30s expected and the game on turf, conditions will be unfamiliar.

* Washington State update: With Ryan Leaf in the NFL, the Cougars are still trying to decide on a new quarterback. Paul Mencke is taking over the starting role from Steve Birnbaum this week. An easy opening schedule hid the Cougars' problems, but they surfaced in losses to Cal, 24-14; UCLA, 49-17, and Oregon, 51-29. Receiver Nian Taylor sat out last week because of a calf strain but is listed as probable.

* Edge to USC: Washington State will be desperate, but the Trojans--after last week's loss to Cal and last season's loss to Washington State at the Coliseum--ought to be clawing back too.

* Line: USC by 9.

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