USC vs. Washington Match Up


It’s Homecoming week at USC, and the students are preparing in a variety of ways to “Tame the Huskies.” There’s the homecoming float parade, a rally, and the massive tailgating that is going to overrun the campus when the alumni return to their old stomping grounds.

And while all that is going on, the football team and its fans are gearing up for another showdown against the University of Washington Huskies.

If USC were to have a Pac-12 North rival, it would definitely be the Huskies. There has been a lot of drama between these two schools, starting after the 2009-2010 season, when Pete Carroll’s offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian took the head coaching job for the Huskies, and took defensive coordinator Nick Holt with him. The following season, Sark and Holt shocked SC when they beat the Trojans and their former head coach Pete Carroll at his own game.

And the next match up yielded the exact same result.

Since Sarkisian took over at U-Dub, his team has beat USC both times. And not only have they beat the Trojans, but they have done so in the most frustrating way possible: charging down the field, running out the clock, then kicking the game winning field goal. Trojan fans certainly have not forgotten what it felt like to lose this way to the Huskies, not once but TWICE. IN A ROW. That’s just…unacceptable.

Running Back Chris Polk moves between corner Shareece Wright and safety Jawanza Starling. C/O

In those two seasons, USC’s kicking game was bad. And by bad, I mean when the field goal unit came on the field, the fans just assumed the kicker would shank it, and 98% of the time, they were right. Knowing that the only thing that separated your team from winning and loses was the incompetent kicker is like, depressing on all accounts.

But this season, things will be different.

First of all, USC is in a much better position to win this game than in the previous two match ups. The first time, Matt Barkley was out with an injury so backup Aaron Corp got the start. The Trojans got worked, the fans basically hated Corp and he swiftly transferred schools before the semester was up. Last year, the Trojans were still figuring out the Kiffin dense, and Jake Locker had his way with the Trojan secondary. And we’ve already talked about the kicking problems, so no need to relive it any longer.

This time around though, Matt Barkley is healthy and is playing some of his best football. He’s coming off of a record-breaking performance against Colorado (passing for six touchdown passes in one game), and the week before that, he played one of the best games of his life against Stanford. In watching him for three seasons now, I can say that was the most poise I have ever seen Barkley play with since his upset over Ohio State his freshman year. Matty Ice is playing like an all-star, and the fans know it. Chants of “one more year! One more year!” will undoubtedly be heard this week in the student section, as it getting down to that time for Barkley to make a decision that could spell the difference between a rebuilding year and a preseason top 5 ranking and run at a national championship next season.

But we will save that discussion for a later day. For now, just now, know that Barkley is more than capable of leading his team to a W over the Huskies for the first time in three years.

Tight End Jordan Cameron makes the catch for the first down, even though pressured by corner Desmond Trufant. C/O

Not only that, but the Trojans also have a beast of a kicker in freshman Andre Heidari, who is a semi-finalist for the Lou Graza place-kicking award. Heidari has made 13 of 15 field goals this season, and all 34 of his point-after-touchdown attempts. If the game once again comes down to kicker competence, Trojan fans don’t have to sweat it. In the Stanford game, Heidari nailed a 50-yard kick with a sprained ankle. If he can do that, he can practically do anything!

But of course, if U-Dub is going to go down, they will not do so quietly. This team has the advantage of their coach knowing USC more intimately than any coach in the Pac-12. Coach Sarkisian knows USC’s style, and the inner workings of this team. He has a personal relationship with Coach Kiffin, which has gone south in recent years. That’s because Coach Sarkisian has made comments like, “USC is probably still the most talented team in the conference.” Though this may seem like a compliment, it can also be seen as an under-handed jab at Coach Kiffin. As Coach Kiffin said, “All he’s doing is pointing out is we have all these great players so we much not be very good coaches.” This comment is obviously going to be one of the bigger story lines surrounding this game. So it will be interesting to see what either coach has to say once the final whistle is blown.

The Huskies have a weapon in running back Chris Polk (who at one point was a USC commit), and if left to his own devices, he will definitely give the Wall of Troy a headache. He has 1096 yards and nine touchdowns off 207 carries, and he’s averaging 5.3 yard per touch. They also have two fairly capable receivers in David Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse, who combined have over 800 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Kearse often struggles with a bad case of the dropsies, but Aguilar is quick, and can easily slip through coverage to get open. The two of them don’t hold a candle to USC’s own Robert Woods, but they, combined with Polk, will give the Huskies a balanced offensive attack. The X-Factor in the offense could be Kasen Williams, a reciever who’s shown flashes of brilliance since coming out of Washington powerhouse Skyline High School as the top player in the state 2 years ago.

Defensively, there’s nothing to stop the Trojans, which means that unless they trip over their own feet we should march up and down the field with ease.

So with the recent history, and a little bit of bad blood between these two teams, USC’s homecoming game could get interesting. The Huskies will put up a fight, but with the way this Trojan team has been playing recently, I just don’t see them surrendering this game. If they have the crowd serving as the 12th man like they did against Stanford, then USC could comfortably win this game. The Trojans will win 35-21 and go on to be 8-2.

The only thing that might be an issue is there is inclement weather in the forecast. If it rains, then obviously the Huskies will have a slight leg up on SC, as they play in bad weather regularly. The last time the Trojans played at home in the rain, they lost in a sloppy game to Notre Dame. Obviously, everyone in Trojan Nation is hoping that the rain holds off until AFTER the game, and that the only thing falling from the sky are bombs from Matt Barkley to Heisman Woods and Marquise Lee.

Anyone know the ceremonial rain dance? USC might need it.