Washington won last year’s battle 17-12 at USC. USC Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian was fired a day after the loss due to conduct detrimental to the team. Since 2011, Washington is 1-2 against USC and has lost those games by an average margin of defeat of 16.5 points per game. USC has won five straight games by an average margin of victory of 19 points per game.
The Trojans are averaging 32 points per game and have had a very balanced attack rushing for 211 yards per game on the ground along with passing for 264 yards per game through the air.
Quarterback Sam Darnold has engineered the offensive attack for the Trojans and has looked confident each week as the season progresses. Darnold has completed 67% of his passes for 1,874 yards with 20 touchdowns and 4 interceptions this year.
During the five game win streak, Darnold has completed 114 of 167 passes for 1,483 yards with 18 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Darnold made his first career start against Utah and playing very well on the road. However, he must be able to recognize blitz packages this coming weekend on the road against a very active defensive front seven in the Washington Huskies.
USC offensive line has played very well and has allowed nine sacks through the first nine games of the season.
Running back Ronald Jones leads the team with 679 rushing yards averaging 6.7 yards per carry with 7 touchdowns. The rushing attack must get going early on the road to take the pressure off of Darnold to make plays over the top of the Huskies secondary.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster leads the team with 48 receptions for 641 yards with 8 touchdown receptions. It is imperative for Schuster to get involved off of play-action early on to allow the Trojans third down and short opportunities. On the year, USC is converting 45% of their third down attempts this season.
Defensively, the Trojans are giving up 23 points per game and are allowing 153 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses.
USC must be able to force turnovers on the road and enters this game -1 in turnover margin.
Through 9 games this season, the defense has recorded 16 total sacks and must force Washington quarterback Jake Browning to make quick decisions underneath coverage.
USC is allowing opposing offenses to convert 37% of their third down attempts this year.
The Huskies are averaging 48 points per game and are rushing for 231 yards per game on the ground this year along with passing for 268 yards per game through the air.
Quarterback Jake Browning has really progressed in his second year in head coach Chris Peterson’s offensive scheme and is a very accurate passer that is peaking toward the end of the season. Browning has completed 67% of his passes for 2,273 yards with 34 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He has shown a strong arm and the ability to read coverages very quickly this season.
Running back, Myles Gaskin, is a tough blue collar running back that has many Huskies fans reminiscing of Beno Bryant or Napoleon Kaufman back in the day. On the year, Gaskin has rushed for a team leading 952 rushing yards averaging 6.3 yards per carry with 8 touchdowns. Gaskin has great vision and the speed to catch the perimeter of opposing defenses.
Wide receivers John Ross and Dante Pettis are two solid receivers that have great speed and hands. Both players have combined for 81 receptions for 1,316 yards with 25 touchdown receptions.
They have the speed to take the top off of the defense and force USC’s defense out of man coverage in this game.
Defensively, the Huskies are playing with a blue collar and physical style that the team has not shown since the days of Jim Lambright and former legendary coach- the late Don James.
The Huskies are allowing 17 points per game and giving up 147 rushing yards to opposing offenses. The secondary is yielding 181 passing yards per game and has been very opportunistic this year with 10 interceptions.
Washington loves to bring pressure from the edge and has recorded 27 sacks through the first nine games. They will challenge Darnold in this game to read hot routes and force him to read coverage while under pressure.
The Huskies are +15 in turnover margin and has held opposing offenses to 29% conversions on third downs this year.
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