Washington Huskies (1-2) at No. 18 USC Trojans (4-0, 1-0)
2009 Result: Washington 16 – USC 13
Stars: QB Jake Locker, WR Jermaine Kearse
Time: :00 PM PDT
Radio: KXSC (listen at kscr.org), 710AM
Spread: Washington (+10)
On the other sideline, USC returns home 4-0 after routing the Washington State Cougars. Score-wise, it was their most impressive win to date and they look to continue their success as they begin a stretch where four of the next six games are against teams that beat them in 2009. The Trojans aren’t taking the Huskies lightly. After the game in Pullman, several USC players stated they are seeking revenge for last year’s debacle and have had this game circled on the calendar for a while. Lane Kiffin, the first USC coach to begin his tenure 4-0 since 1951, will coach against Steve Sarkisian for the first time. These Pete Carroll disciples shared the title of offensive coordinator once upon a time and still remain friends.
Despite the 1-2 record, the Huskies always seem dangerous with Jake Locker at quarterback. Nebraska limited Locker to 4-20 passing and forced 2 interceptions, but Locker’s dual-threat ability is always cause for concern. Kiffin has said several times during the week that his biggest fear on defense is when plays break down. In that scenario, Locker is free to use his mobility and create plays with his legs. Without a doubt, Locker hasn’t lived up to the hype placed on him before the season, but he is still a solid quarterback.
Locker loves to connect with wideout Jermaine Kearse, who is one of the better wide receivers in the conference. Meanwhile, Chris Polk and Jesse Callier are two solid backs that run behind a young offensive line. USC needs to contain Locker and limit his ability to scramble. In recent weeks, the defensive backs have had better coverage on their men. If the receivers aren’t open and the linebackers hold steady, Locker will have the same trouble he did against the Huskers. Last year, USC’s defense unraveled, but they still managed to hold Washington to 16 points.
Washington’s defense gave up 383 yards rushing to Nebraska, and Nick Holt is looking for redemption. USC will likely utilize the power running game with Bradford to pound the defense and open up the passing game. Matt Barkley has tried to force a few passes in the last two games, but Kiffin has done an excellent job of toning down the play calling and setting up easy throws for Barkley to ease back into the groove. Ultimately, the onus will be on the offense to put up points. The defense will have a tough assignment with Locker, but if the offense can put up points against this weak defense, the pressure will be lifted off of Monte Kiffin’s unit.
Many are worried about this game because Washington took down USC a year ago. However, Matt Barkley missed that game with a shoulder injury and Aaron Corp didn’t play well. Also, USC got away from their running game, threw too much, and committed too many turnovers. Given the advantage in nearly every phase of the game, this is a game USC needs to and should win heading into a showdown with No. 9 Stanford. A loss would signal serious problems with USC that would cause major concern. Heading forward, I have confidence in USC to get it done.
Stat of the Week:
Final Score Prediction: USC 35 – Washington 21
I will be calling play-by-play for USC’s student radio station, KXSC, for this game. I understand that our station is competing against ESPN Radio as well as the television broadcast but I would appreciate it if you tuned in even for just a few minutes at kscr.org or 1560 AM if you are near campus.