USC came to Seattle, conquered Seattle and left Seattle with a 24-14 victory over Washington on Saturday night.
The offense struggled at times but the defense...oh, the defense. It played magnificently. Husky quarterback Keith Price was sacked five times by the Trojans defense, most coming at critical moments in the game.
It wasn't just one particular player who made the big play—it was the entire unit that came up with big plays after big plays to stop Washington from trying to regain their favorable momentum.
Late in the second quarter, Anthony Brown blocked a punt and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown. The Huskies, instead of being down 17-7, were down 24-7 at the half.
Washington would pull within 10 points in the third quarter, but USC's defense came to life when its offense stalled.
Washington was down 24-14 with a 2nd-and-goal when Price was stripped of the ball by strong safety Jawanza Starling. That would turn out to be the game-changer. USC drove all the way to Washington's 27 when linebacker Josh Shirley sacked Matt Barkley on a 4th-and-5. No field goal, no touchdown and Washington appeared to have new life.
But Price was sacked on the first play from scrimmage by defensive end Wes Horton. A few plays later, on a 4th-and-8, Price was intercepted by Josh Shaw, who was playing his first game as cornerback this season.
The Huskies attempted one final gasp of life inside the two-minute mark, but Price was stripped of the ball by linebacker Dion Bailey and that sealed the Huskies' fate. In all, Washington turned over the ball four times.
It wasn't a pretty game in terms of offensive firepower, but USC did run the ball well; Silas Redd had 25 carries for 155 yards while Curtis McNeal had 11 touches for 58 yards.
The Trojans' defense held Washington to under 300 yards, and Barkley had a solid, but not Heisman-like, day going 10-of-20 for 167 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
But, the defense played like in the days of yore under then-head coach Pete Carroll. The defensive line—once the question mark of this team—put constant pressure on Price. A dual-threat quarterback, Price went 20-of-28 for 198 yards and two touchdowns, but his two interceptions came when Washington was about to cut USC's lead to a manageable deficit.
Defense wins championships. USC has appeared to have turned a corner with only one true road game left in the regular season at Arizona—USC does play at UCLA which is about a half hour from its campus.
USC also disproved the transitive theory; USC beat the team (Washington) that beat the team (Stanford) that beat USC.
The BCS standings come out tomorrow, and USC should be in the Top 10. It's been two years since USC has been eligible to be included in the BCS poll due to NCAA sanctions making them bowl-ineligible.