#3 USC (-19.0) 41 WASHINGTON 17September 18, 2009
USC freshman quarterback Matt Barkley suffered a bruised shoulder in last week's 18-15 win at Ohio State and Aaron Corp will get his first start this week in the Pac-10 opener. Corp was the presumptive starter until he missed some time in training camp, so I don't see the quarterback change affecting the Trojans' ability to score against a bad Washington defense that's allowed 6.6 yards per play to LSU and Idaho, which are teams that woudl combine to average only 5.3 yppl against an average defensive team. The Huskies' pass defense has been especially bad in allowing 8.0 yards per pass play (including sacks), including giving up 337 yards at 7.8 yppp to Idaho.
USC has averaged 6.2 yards per rushing play and 7.8 yppp and I think Corp could be an upgrade over Barkley, who I wasn't that impressed with last week. Corp should post big numbers and the Trojans' rush attack should tally over 200 yards at around 6 yards per running play.
The USC defense looks like another great unit despite losing most of last year's starters to the NFL. The Trojans dominated San Jose State's attack (2.0 yards per play allowed) and they played well in limiting a good Buckeyes' offense to just 4.8 yppl last week on the road. They'll have another test this week, as former USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has revitalized the Huskies' attack with star quarterback Jake Locker leading the way. Locker is a dual threat quarterback that can throw the ball down the field and can beat you with his legs.
Thus far the Huskies have averaged 427 total yards per game at an impressive 6.1 yppl, including averaging 5.8 yppl against a pretty good LSU defense in their opener. However, USC's defense is still considerably better than Washington's offense and I don't see the Huskies getting to 20 points or more in this game.
My ratings favor USC by 26 1/2 points in this game, but the Trojans tend to be flat in road games against weaker Pac-10 rivals, as they are just 5-14 ATS as a conference road favorite of mroe than 10 points since 2004 (4-14 ATS if not motivated by a loss the previous week). They're also coming off a huge win last week at Ohio State, so a letdown is certainly a possibility and Washington will be fired up for this challenge after gaining confidence with a close loss to LSU (23-31) and a decisive victory last week.
I would still rather take USC minus the points now that the line has come down from an opening number of 23 points.
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