Southern Cal-Washington Preview

Southern California has spent plenty of time away from Los

Angeles, but that will soon change.

Winning a game at Washington would give coach Lane Kiffin’s

squad a big lift heading into the second half of the season.

The 11th-ranked Trojans will try to set a program record with a

187th consecutive game without getting shut out Saturday when the

Huskies look to open 4-0 at home.

Including a 42-29 victory over Syracuse on Sept. 8 in East

Rutherford, N.J., USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) will play four of its first

six games away from home. However, the team will play just once

outside of Los Angeles in the second half – Oct. 27 versus

Arizona.

While the Trojans arrive in Seattle following their second

consecutive win, a come-from-behind 38-28 victory at Utah on Oct.

4, they realize that taking on Washington (3-2, 1-1) at CenturyLink

Field is a tall order.

The Huskies are undefeated at their temporary home – Husky

Stadium is being renovated – following a 17-13 victory over

then-No. 8 Stanford on Sept. 27.

USC dropped from No. 2 to 13 with a 21-14 loss at Stanford on

Sept. 15.

“You go up there and the crowd and the stadium is extremely

loud,” Kiffin said. “And they play better at home.”

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, a former assistant at USC, can

only hope that continues as his team gets back to work after a

52-21 loss at second-ranked Oregon last Saturday dropped it out of

the Top 25.

The Huskies committed a season-worst five turnovers and

surrendered 2012 highs of 497 total yards and 299 on the

ground.

“We really felt like we could come in and play with them,” said

Sarkisian, whose team is 1-2 against ranked foes this season. “We

felt like we had a plan offensively. But we had a hard time

tackling the quarterback when he got out of the pocket. That made

things difficult for us.”

The Huskies rank 13th against the pass in the FBS, giving up

173.8 yards per game, but they were exposed versus the Ducks with

four touchdown passes allowed.

USC’s Matt Barkley presents another potentially tough test. The

Heisman Trophy candidate, who threw for 303 yards and three

touchdowns against the Utes, is four TDs shy of tying former Trojan

Matt Leinart’s conference record with 99.

Barkley is also 359 yards shy of passing Leinart for second at

USC with 10,624.

The Trojans’ talented wide receiver combination of Marqise Lee

and Robert Woods gives Barkley a realistic chance to break those

marks. Lee, third in the FBS with 52 catches, leads the team with

649 receiving yards and seven TDs.

Woods, who has five scores, needs 10 receptions to pass Dwayne

Jarrett for most in program history with 217.

With so many weapons on offense, including running backs Silas

Redd and Curtis McNeal, who could be available after missing the

Utah game with a head injury, the Trojans should have no problem

getting on the scoreboard.

USC has not been shut out since falling 27-0 at Washington on

Nov. 1, 1997.

If the Huskies are going to improve to 3-1 against the Trojans

since Sarkisian took over, junior quarterback Keith Price will

likely have to improve his play. Price, who set a program record

with 33 TDs last season, has completed just 59.5 percent of his

passes with five scores and four INTs.

“I don’t think I’ve been enjoying the game the past couple of

weeks,” said Price, who left with a knee injury in a 40-17 loss at

then-No. 18 USC on Nov. 12. “I haven’t been playing with the same

passion as last year, the same confidence, the same swagger. I’ve

got to get back to that.”

Price’s top targets will likely be wide receiver Kasen Williams

and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who should be able to go

after suffering a leg injury last week.

USC will also have to keep an eye on sophomore Bishop Sankey,

who has three consecutive 100-yard rushing games.

McNeal ran for a career-best 148 yards and a touchdown last

season as the Trojans avoided a third straight loss in this series.

Washington hit late go-ahead field goals in the previous two

meetings, winning 16-13 in the Trojans’ last visit to Seattle on

Sept. 19, 2009.

USC, then coached by Pete Carroll, had won the previous seven

meetings.

“It’s a healthy rivalry between the schools and (Sarkisian has)

done a great job making it very competitive,” Kiffin said.