Through six games, we have seen USC’s offense rise and fall in a fashion unbecoming of a team that supposedly touts up to three Heisman candidates, and every time they stumble, USC’s defense bails them out of a bind.
On the road in Seattle, the case would be no different.
In the first half, the Trojan offense played the way we have been expecting them to all season, quickly going up 27-7 on UW. The defense limited the Huskies to just 87 yards while USC’s offense put up 233 yards of their own, and the Trojans were rolling.
Then the second half happened.
As they have done in every single game this season, the Trojan offense absolutely stopped being productive in the third quarter. They were shutout entirely, despite making a few trips into UW territory, and only put up 68 yards of offense. Lane Kiffin failed to make critical adjustments (While UW coach Steve Sarkisian made plenty of them) and Barkley stopped throwing the ball altogether, leaving people to wonder whether something fishy is going on. UW on the other hand found itself some new legs. Keith Price found WR Austin Seferian-Jenkins (who had seen little action up to that point) from 29-yards out in the third quarter to bring it within 10, and the Husky crowd came alive for the first time all night.
It would not be enough though, as USC’s defense stood firm when they needed to, forcing two crucial UDub fumbles late in the 4th quarter that kept the ball back in the offense’s increasingly-untrustworthy hands. USC’s defense also sacked Keith Price five times on the night and held UW to just 100 rushing yards, continuing to prove that they are not the liability that many thought they would be coming into the season.
OLB Dion Bailey had an interception, DL Leonard Williams and Morgan Breslin both had a couple of sacks each, S Jawanza Starling forced a fumbled that was recovered by DE Wes Horton CB Josh Shaw also had a pick at the end of the game…the defensive plays and accolades are endless. Breslin alone has seven sacks on the season and has really helped anchor that USC front four that is just demolishing offenses. They did get a little tired in the end as the Huskies opted to go with a hurry-up offense, but unlike the Trojan offense, they did not waiver too much.
The Trojans outgained the Huskies 375 yards to 295, but the Trojans did not at all look dominant at any point in the second half. The Huskies had chance after chance to upset USC, but fell short on each attempt. Regardless of the many struggles, Kiffin and the Trojans tamed the Huskies and will advance to 5-1 on the season.
In some regards, it does not matter HOW USC wins each week, it just matters that they continue to win out if they want to reach a bowl game. However, wins that don’t leave the media and a fanbase questioning your abilities every week could also do the Trojans a service. They will play five of their next six games at home in the Coliseum, so maybe they can make a statement in that stretch of games.
It’s clear that USC still, mind-bogglingly has much to work on–like giving up so many stupid penalties, for starters–if they want to convince people that they are a national championship-caliber team.
As it stands now, Kiffin is proving week after week that he needs an Offensive Coordinator, Matt Barkley is proving that he doesn’t have a Heisman-quality win in him, and the defense is proving that they will be the reason USC wins out the season.
Didn’t see that coming in August, did you?