Washington at USC preview box
Washington at USC matchup box
Washington (1-2, 0-0 Pac-10) at USC (4-0, 1-0). Time: 5 p.m., Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
TV: ESPN2. Radio: 950 AM. The line: USC by 10.
The setup: UW, generally regarded so far as one of the more disappointing teams in the Pac-10, if not the country, can go a long way toward redeeming itself and getting back on course to a bowl game with a victory. USC is on probation, so it is looking at short-term goals — such as getting revenge for UW's 16-13 victory in Seattle last year.
What to expect: USC is becoming a little more of a power running team under Lane Kiffin with the Trojans averaging 6 yards per carry. Expect USC to try to establish dominance on the ground to set up Matt Barkley's passing. Expect UW to let Jake Locker run a little bit more, and get some confidence back in his arm with short and intermediate passes after the disastrous 4-for-20 outing against Nebraska two weeks ago.
Notes: The Trojans lead the series 49-27-8 and 29-10 at the Coliseum. ... USC had won seven in a row until UW's upset a year ago. UW hasn't beaten the Trojans in Los Angeles since 1996. That is also the last time UW won a regular-season game in Los Angeles against either USC or UCLA. UW hasn't won a road game since Nov. 3, 2007 at Stanford, a string of 13 games. The ESPN2 broadcast team includes former UW QB Brock Huard and former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti alongside play-by-play man Carter Blackburn.
Injuries: UW — RB Deontae Cooper (knee), P Will Mahan (knee) each out for the season; RB Johri Fogerson (hip) doubtful; LB Victor Aiyewa (finger), WR James Johnson (ankle), probable. USC — DE Wes Horton (back) questionable, DE Armond Armstead (shoulder) and RB Allen Bradford (back) probable.
Upset brewing?: USC isn't quite the dominant force it has been in years past and, despite being 4-0, has struggled to put away three of its foes. UW needs to strike early and regain some confidence after the tough defeat against Nebraska. If it can do that, it could replicate the upset formula of a year ago of hanging around, forcing USC into mistakes, and making the key plays at the end to win.
Key matchup: Washington's passing attack vs. USC's secondary. USC has four new starters in its secondary and has allowed an average of 282 yards per game through the air and eight touchdown passes. With James Johnson again healthy, UW has its full complement of receivers and should have some opportunities to make plays through the air. Expect UW to try to copy some of what worked against Syracuse, getting its receivers the ball in space and letting them make plays.
Prediction: USC 31, Washington 23.