LOS ANGELES (AP) -Shocking as it might sound, highly successful Southern California coach Pete Carroll can relate to the misery first-year Washington State coach Paul Wulff is experiencing.
It wasn't that long ago.
``When we played Arizona in our first year, and I think we were 2-5, that was a low, low time for us now,'' Carroll recalled Tuesday at his weekly meeting with reporters, referring to the 2001 season.
``I remember going to the Arizona stadium on the Friday night before the game, and everybody was just sitting there,'' Carroll said. ``It was about 100 degrees at about 5:00 o'clock. They didn't want to do anything. They didn't feel like playing. They didn't feel like doing anything. It looked like we were dead in the water at that time.
o to get some emotion going.''
USC beat Arizona 41-34 that weekend, the first of four straight victories for the Trojans before a 10-6 loss to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl. That was just the beginning - they've gone 74-9 in 6 1/2 seasons since then, and are 43-point favorites this weekend at Washington State to add to their victory total.
The spread is staggering in any case, but especially considering the game is being played at Washington State.
The Cougars (1-6, 0-4 Pac-10), a young team to begin with that's been ravaged by injuries, have been outscored 316-111, putting them on pace to break the Pac-10 record for most points allowed in a season, 469, given up by Oregon State in 1981. They've given up 63 or more points in three games, losing 66-3 to California and 63-14 to Oregon at home and 66-13 at Oregon State.
WSU has gained an average of 274.4 yards per game while allowing 436.1. And that includes the 638 yards they rolled up in a 48-9 victory over Portland State, when they held the Vikings, a Championship Subdivision member of the Big Sky Conference, to 246 yards.
``They do a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. They have really good schemes,'' Carroll said, perhaps a reference to the Portland State game since otherwise the Cougars have lost their other six games by an average of 40.7 points.
hem by an average of just under 200 yards per game.
``It seems like they haven't been able to hold up,'' Carroll said of the Cougars. ``They just haven't been able to maintain the same consistency throughout the games, and it catches up with them before it's over. And they've had a bunch of injury issues.''
One has been at quarterback, where Kevin Lopina returns this weekend after missing three games with a broken bone in his back.
``Medically he is cleared,'' Wulff said. ``He is 100 percent.''
Lopina replaces Marshall Lobbestael, who tore knee ligaments last weekend at Oregon State.
As successful as the Trojans have been under Carroll, they've been victims of major upsets in each of the past three seasons, losing 33-31 at Oregon State in 2006, 24-23 to Stanford at home last season, and 27-21 at Oregon State last month.
``We take Washington State like it's (No. 1) Texas,'' tailback Stafon Johnson said. ``If we don't, we're vulnerable. We can't overlook anybody. We've got a target on our chest. Everybody's gunning for us.''
Carroll said there's a fine line between going out and playing and going out and competing and battling.
it takes to perform at your best.
``You saw a gleaming example of a team in our first half up there (at Oregon State) a few weeks ago that wasn't right, and then even though we kicked into it, it was too late.''
USC outscored the Beavers 21-6 in the second half, but since they trailed 21-0 at halftime, it wasn't enough.
``The last couple weeks, we've been on it,'' Carroll said. ``We played really hard the last two weeks. We haven't played great all the time, but we've played really hard with the kind of intensity that gets you wins and brings out the best in you.''

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