Before the season opener, many Husky fans (and possibly the whole program) would gladly have taken a 6-3 record after the first nine games. Another bowl berth would show the program's stability under Steve Sarkisian, as well as answer any questions about replacing quarterback Jake Locker.
The Huskies have won six games in 2011, the UW program is bowl eligible for the second year in a row, but after being dominated by in-conference foes Stanford and Oregon, the Washington Husky program pines for a quality win over a ranked opponent.
This weekend, the Huskies will get their chance against USC.
The Trojans are playing their best football under coach Lane Kiffin, and two consecutive losses to Washington will give sanctioned USC all the motivation it needs on Saturday.
In the 10th week of an ongoing series, I consulted my Xbox 360 for an NCAA Football 12 prediction of the upcoming game.
In the opening sequence, the game featured cyber Cort Dennison for his run-stopping ability.
UW's linebackers will need to tackle much better than they did last week against Oregon, and stopping USC's ground game will be another key for Nick Holt's defense.
During the simulation, turnovers plagued UW, and after a sloppy game in the rain, USC won 3-0.
It would be sweet revenge for USC to win by a field goal this Saturday. For the past two years, the Trojans have watched kicker Erik Folk finish them off with game-winning kicks.
Like the past two years, the Huskies are once again double-digit underdogs to USC. Questions about Washington's pass defense are leading many to pick USC this weekend, especially with Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods emerging as the best one-two punch in the conference.
But I see this weekend's matchup resting on the UW offense. Dropped passes, poor protection and forced throws resulted in only 17 points against Oregon last week, and UW's defense isn't strong enough to hold quality opponents under 28 points.
Keith Price, Chris Polk and the UW receiving corps need to put up lots of points Saturday to keep pace with the Trojans.
The rainy forecast may put more emphasis on both teams' running games and their run defenses, and I wouldn't be surprised to see this one end on another game-winning field goal.
USC wins 27-24.
Xbox predictions this season: 3-6
Beswick predictions this season: 6-3
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