We found out from the Pac-12 this week that a massive Week 7 matchup in Salt Lake City between No. 6 USC and No. 11 Utah would take place in primetime on national TV. Many are looking forward to the Oct. 15 matchup between two teams expected to have a say in the Pac-12 title race.

But USC better not get caught looking ahead. A week before they face the Utes, the Trojans welcome a dangerous team to the L.A. Coliseum.

During an appearance on the Trojans Live radio show Monday night, coach Lincoln Riley said Washington State is “the best football team we’ve played up to this point.”

It’s a bit of an obvious statement for a coach to make on the surface. USC has played Rice, a 1-3 Stanford team, a 1-3 Fresno State team, a 3-2 Oregon State team, and a 1-4 Arizona State team. Washington State is off to a 4-1 start and has already gone on the road and picked up a ranked win (beating then-No. 19 Wisconsin on Sept. 10).

The Cougars are, by most objective measures, a better team than any USC has faced yet. They rank third nationally in tackles for loss, with 44 in five games. They rank second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, second in run defense (by yards per carry), third in third-down defense, and second in red zone defense (by touchdown percentage allowed).

Edge rushers Ron Stone Jr. and Brennan Jackson provide the pressure while linebacker Daiyan Henley flies around and makes plays. USC will need to be on its game.

Riley’s message could also be viewed as one directed at his team. USC escaped Corvallis with a three-point win in Week 4 after an uncharacteristic offensive performance. It held just a seven-point halftime lead over Arizona State on Saturday at home. The Trojans are still very much a work in progress.

And they’ll need to be at their best yet against the Cougars. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. PT.