USC vs. Washington: Three Keys To A Trojan Victory

Robert GardnerSenior Analyst ISeptember 18, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 12:  Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans looks to pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the game at Ohio Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

This Saturday all eyes of the Trojan faithful will be glued to their televisions as the Men of Troy take on the Huskies of Washington. While at first glance this matchup screams “Blowout,” that may not be the case at all.

The Huskies are led by junior QB Jake Locker, who has all of the makings of a star. He throws the ball well, and can flat out fly if he gets outside of the pocket. He may very well end up being the best QB the Trojans will see all year.

Stalking the sidelines for the Huskies are head coach Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt, both former assistants under Pete Carroll.

Some college football fans believe that because of their familiarity with Carroll's system and the Trojan players that the Huskies have a great opportunity to upset the Trojans this year.

I on the other hand feel that, while it is going to be somewhat of a factor, these Trojans are a much different team than we have seen in the past, and it will not be a game changing factor.

Trojan fans and college football fans in general know that every year USC shoots themselves in the foot by losing to a lesser opponent, thus crumbling any dreams of a BCS title game bid.

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This year will not be that year, and this game will not be that game. Here's three reasons why:

1. Defensive Speed

The Trojan defense this year is fast. It may be the fastest defense Pete Carroll has had since he arrived at USC. This group flies around the football. It is the speed of the Trojan defense that is going to keep Jake Locker in the pocket.

I would expect to see the Trojans incorporate a similar defense to what we saw against Ohio State. Locker is a much better passer than Terrelle Pryor, but the Trojans are going to look to limit his ability to make plays and gain extra yards with his legs.

Look for Pete Carroll to use some different fronts and personnel packages to throw at his former assistant and to throw Locker off of their game plan.  

2. The Stable

Joe McKnight and company are going to be looking to take control of this game. It has become apparent that USC’s philosophy under Bates is to establish the run and punch the other team in the mouth.

The Trojan running game sets up the rest of the offense, and with the talent USC has up front this year the Huskies are in for a physical afternoon.

USC has a unique situation in their backfield because they don’t have a No. 1 back—they have several. All bring something a little different to the table, and all are supremely talented. I expect this group to open things up early for the rest of the offense.

3. The Wideouts

The glaring weakness the Huskies have on defense is their secondary. Idaho torched them for over 300 yards last week.

Let me be frank by saying that if you can’t contain Idaho’s receivers then you have no chance in hell of dealing with the talent the Trojans have at that position.

Damian Williams is poised and ready to have his breakout performance this year, and he is licking his chops at this week’s prospects. Whoever is at the helm for the Trojans this week is going to have a big game.

My Prediction: USC 42, Washington 14