Sep 12, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans players Soma Vainuku (31) and Jabri Ruffin (40) lead teammates onto the field before the game against the Idaho Vandals at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
USC vs. Washington
LA Coliseum | Los Angeles, Calif.6:00 PM Pacific | ESPNAll-time Series: USC leads 50-28-4Last meeting: USC 24, Washington 14 in 2012
For the first time in three years the USC Trojans and Washington Huskies will meet on the football field as Pac-12 opponents.
The Trojans and Huskies have a long history of competing for the Pac-12 title against each other, but with Washington entering the contest as a 17-point underdog, the likelihood of this match up determining the conference winner is unlikely.
Still, story lines abound.
Steve Sarkisian left the Huskies to become the head coach at USC in 2013. Chris Petersen, who was considered for the Trojan job, took the spot vacated by Sarkisian in Seattle. Current USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox led Petersen’s Boise State to join Sarkisian’s Washington before following the head coach to Los Angeles.
Players and coaches across the board have downplayed the importance of these connections heading into tonights game, but the personal relationships are certainly there adding depth to the contest.
Here’s everything you need to get ready for the game:
When Washington has the ball:
The Huskies have a balanced attack on offense with running backs Dwayne Washington and Myles Gaskin working to keep pressure off of freshman quarterback Jake Browning.
The backs have excellent averages, both above five yards per carry, however, the rushing attack has not been productive enough against the two ranked opponents the Washington has faced thus far. Both Washington and Gaskin have averaged more than ten yards per carry in one game this season, which masks the fact that their average in the other three games was closer to two yards per carry.
USC has had difficulty stopping Pac-12 rushing attacks this season, conceding nearly 200 yards on the ground to every opponent except for Idaho. The Huskies may look to exploit that weakness in order to ease the pressure on Browning.
Washington’s hit and miss running game has left Browning to navigate the difficult waters of his college debut with varied results. He was excellent in two wins over Sacramento State and Utah State, but struggled in contests versus Boise State and Cal.
As is the case with most freshman quarterbacks, the key for USC will be to get in Browning’s face and force him into mistakes. The Bears did that to the tune of two interceptions and five sacks.
The Trojan defensive backs will need to be on the look out for former USC commit Jaydon Mickens, who will have an army of family and friends in the crowd he intends to impress against his boyhood team.
- 5 Things To Watch For In USC vs. Washington (Reign of Troy)
- 5 Things USC Football Must Do to Beat Washington (Reign of Troy)
- Chris Petersen Calls USC Football “Completely Underrated” (Reign of Troy)
- Huskies Talk Sarkisian, Matchup With Trojans (Reign of Troy)
- Washington Huskies vs. USC Trojans Preview and Prediction (Athlon Sports)
- Key match ups in USC-Washington battle (ESPN)
- VIDEO: Previewing the USC-Washington game (OC Register)
- UW’s young defense hopes to put the brakes on speedy USC offense (Seattle Times)
- Preview: No. 17 USC vs. Washington (LA Times)
- USC vs. UW Game Preview (Scout)
- The Prediction: Washington at USC (UW Dawg Pound)
When USC has the ball:
The 2015 NFL Draft featured four Washington defensive starters, including three first round picks. Somehow, the Huskies defense has not missed a beat despite those losses, along with three other graduated starters.
Washington is the top-ranked defense in the Pac-12 according to advanced metrics like S&P+. They lead the conference in rushing, scoring and total defense.
Of course, the next best defense in the Pac-12 is Stanford, and even the Cardinal relied on a time-chewing offense to slow the Trojan offense, which still scored 31 points.
Though USC will be hoping to bounce back after a questionable display on the ground against ASU, that will be difficult going up a defensive front which includes stalwarts like Joe Mathis and Elijah Qualls on the defensive line.
The plus for the Trojans is that the Huskies have not been formidable when it comes to rushing the quarterback. Five of their eight sacks on the season came against the pass-heavy Bear Raid.
USC has had great success through the air and Cody Kessler has shown improved ability to thwart even aggressive pass rushes. Kessler will need to be wary of cornerback Kevin King who has three interceptions this season and budding star Sidney Jones who is coming into his own as a sophomore.
Free safety Budda Baker is a playmaker in the defensive backfield but an ankle injury threatens to sideline him for the second straight game.
- Out for season: WR Ajene Harris (hip)
- Out: DL Claude Pelon (ankle), DL Jordan Simmons (knee)
- Questionable: WR Darreus Rogers (hamstring)
- Probable: CB Kevon Seymour (knee), DL Antwaun Woods (pectoral)
- Out for season: CB Austin Joyner (knee), WR John Ross (knee)
- Out: N/A
- Questionable: FS Budda Baker (ankle)
- Probable: N/A
Projected Starting Line Ups:
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