7:00 PM ET, October 13, 2012
7:00 PM ET, October 13, 2012
Southern California has spent plenty of time away from Los Angeles, but that will soon change.
Winning a game at Washington would give coach Lane Kiffin's squad a big lift heading into the second half of the season.
The 11th-ranked Trojans will try to set a program record with a 187th consecutive game without getting shut out Saturday when the Huskies look to open 4-0 at home.
Including a 42-29 victory over Syracuse on Sept. 8 in East Rutherford, N.J., USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) will play four of its first six games away from home. However, the team will play just once outside of Los Angeles in the second half -- Oct. 27 versus Arizona.
While the Trojans arrive in Seattle following their second consecutive win, a come-from-behind 38-28 victory at Utah on Oct. 4, they realize that taking on Washington (3-2, 1-1) at CenturyLink Field is a tall order.
The Huskies are undefeated at their temporary home -- Husky Stadium is being renovated -- following a 17-13 victory over then-No. 8 Stanford on Sept. 27.
USC dropped from No. 2 to 13 with a 21-14 loss at Stanford on Sept. 15.
"You go up there and the crowd and the stadium is extremely loud," Kiffin said. "And they play better at home."
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, a former assistant at USC, can only hope that continues as his team gets back to work after a 52-21 loss at second-ranked Oregon last Saturday dropped it out of the Top 25.
The Huskies committed a season-worst five turnovers and surrendered 2012 highs of 497 total yards and 299 on the ground.
"We really felt like we could come in and play with them," said Sarkisian, whose team is 1-2 against ranked foes this season. "We felt like we had a plan offensively. But we had a hard time tackling the quarterback when he got out of the pocket. That made things difficult for us."
The Huskies rank 13th against the pass in the FBS, giving up 173.8 yards per game, but they were exposed versus the Ducks with four touchdown passes allowed.
USC's Matt Barkley presents another potentially tough test. The Heisman Trophy candidate, who threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns against the Utes, is four TDs shy of tying former Trojan Matt Leinart's conference record with 99.
Barkley is also 359 yards shy of passing Leinart for second at USC with 10,624.
The Trojans' talented wide receiver combination of Marqise Lee and Robert Woods gives Barkley a realistic chance to break those marks. Lee, third in the FBS with 52 catches, leads the team with 649 receiving yards and seven TDs.
Woods, who has five scores, needs 10 receptions to pass Dwayne Jarrett for most in program history with 217.
With so many weapons on offense, including running backs Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal, who could be available after missing the Utah game with a head injury, the Trojans should have no problem getting on the scoreboard.
USC has not been shut out since falling 27-0 at Washington on Nov. 1, 1997.
If the Huskies are going to improve to 3-1 against the Trojans since Sarkisian took over, junior quarterback Keith Price will likely have to improve his play. Price, who set a program record with 33 TDs last season, has completed just 59.5 percent of his passes with five scores and four INTs.
"I don't think I've been enjoying the game the past couple of weeks," said Price, who left with a knee injury in a 40-17 loss at then-No. 18 USC on Nov. 12. "I haven't been playing with the same passion as last year, the same confidence, the same swagger. I've got to get back to that."
USC will also have to keep an eye on sophomore Bishop Sankey, who has three consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
McNeal ran for a career-best 148 yards and a touchdown last season as the Trojans avoided a third straight loss in this series. Washington hit late go-ahead field goals in the previous two meetings, winning 16-13 in the Trojans' last visit to Seattle on Sept. 19, 2009.
USC, then coached by Pete Carroll, had won the previous seven meetings.
"It's a healthy rivalry between the schools and (Sarkisian has) done a great job making it very competitive," Kiffin said.
The Trojans bounced back nicely (with the exception of the first three minutes) against Utah. Matt Barkley ended his three-game streak of throwing an interception, and the offense clicked again. Washington must find a way to shake off a bad loss to Oregon.
|Avg Points Allowed||18.5||25.8|