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Originally published Friday, September 24, 2010 at 5:12 AM

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No. 20 USC seeking 4-0 start at Washington State

The last time No. 20 Southern California came to Pullman, the Trojans laid a 69-0 licking on Washington State that was the worst loss in the program's history.

Associated Press Writer

SPOKANE, Wash. —

The last time No. 20 Southern California came to Pullman, the Trojans laid a 69-0 licking on Washington State that was the worst loss in the program's history.

No one is predicting that sort of outcome when the teams play again Saturday.

"We are not very good right now," said USC coach Lane Kiffin, whose team has struggled in wins over Hawaii, Virginia and Minnesota. "We can't overlook anybody."

Not that anyone would blame him for overlooking the Cougars (1-2), who have lost 57 of their 69 games against the Trojans (3-0) since 1921. Washington State has lost 11 straight games to FBS opponents, with their lone win this season coming against Montana State.

But WSU coach Paul Wulff, who endured the epic loss during his first season leading the Cougars, insisted his team is substantially better.

"I think we're going to come out and we are going to play hard and play a good football game," Wulff said. "We have got to set high and hard goals for ourselves to reach. A good one is to defend our home field."

The Trojans have four talented running backs and are averaging nearly 200 yards on the ground per game. Allen Bradford, a 235-pound senior, ran for 131 yards on just 12 carries last week against Minnesota. Marc Tyler gained 154 yards in the opener against Hawaii. They are joined by Dillon Baxter and C.J. Gable.

While Kiffin lamented that one of them has not securely grabbed the starting job, Wulff worried that all four were dangerous.

"It's like a home run hitter," Wulff said. "They could hit one out of the yard on every play."

Washington State will counter with an improved passing game behind sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel and freshman receiver Marquess Wilson. Wilson already has four receptions of 40-plus yards this season, and he gained 134 yards against SMU last weekend. Tuel has completed nearly 55 percent of his passes for 700 yards, with five touchdowns and just one interception.

The Cougars will seek to exploit a Southern Cal defense that is giving up 291 yards passing per game.

"We are trying to figure out our secondary," Kiffin said.

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Southern Cal's offense is led by quarterback Matt Barkley, who threw for two touchdowns but also was intercepted twice at Minnesota last week.

"We look for him to bounce back and have a real good game," Kiffin said.

With a victory, Kiffin would become the first coach since Jess Hill in 1951 to open his USC career at 4-0.

Because of NCAA sanctions, USC is on probation that includes a two-year bowl ban and a loss of scholarships. Wulff predicted the scholarship limits will hurt the Trojans in coming years.

"It opens up the Pac-10 that much more," Wulff said.

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