Washington-Southern Cal Preview

With Matt Barkley sidelined, USC’s dominating run against

Washington came to an end last season.

The No. 18 Trojans hope the presence of Barkley in this year’s

meeting will help them gain some revenge when the Pac-10 rivals

meet at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday night.

USC (4-0, 1-0) had won seven straight over Washington (1-2)

before a 16-13 loss in Seattle last year. Barkley sat out with a

sore shoulder and the Trojans turned in a sluggish effort after

winning at then-No. 8 Ohio State the week before.

This should be the toughest game to this point for Lane Kiffin,

who worked with Washington coach Steve Sarkisian with the Trojans

for five years under former coach Pete Carroll. Sarkisian earned a

marquee win in his first season with the Huskies with last year’s

upset, and is aware that USC is eager to return the favor.

“I’m sure there are a couple of other teams on their schedule

that they circled too from last year,” Sarkisian said. “To me this

is the Pac-10 opener and why we play the year and what we are

striving for. It’s a tremendous challenge.”

The Trojans cruised past Washington State 50-16 in their

conference opener last Saturday, as Kiffin became the first USC

coach since Jess Hill in 1951 to start 4-0 in his first season. The

coach has faced questions about the legitimacy of that unbeaten

start due to a soft early schedule, but he isn’t dwelling on

it.

“Our goal was to be 4-0, be healthy, and not worry about the

scores,” Kiffin said.

Barkley completed 16 of 25 passes for 290 yards and three

touchdowns last week, but also had two first-half

interceptions.

“Those turnovers make this win not feel so good,” said Barkley,

who has four interceptions in the last two games.

The Huskies took advantage of Barkley’s absence last year, as

the Trojans’ Aaron Corp went 13 of 22 for 110 yards and one

interception in his first collegiate start. USC failed on all 10

third-down chances and had three turnovers inside the Washington

35-yard line.

Sarkisian helped recruit Barkley to USC, and he’s told the

Huskies that they’ll be facing a more experienced quarterback this

time.

“He’s a really good pocket passer,” Washington safety Nate

Williams said. “He likes to use all of his receivers and all of his

options. If his long option isn’t there he’ll check it down to one

of his running backs. We just have to stay in our coverages and

lock up.”

The Trojans have been buoyed by a running game that accumulated

a season-high 285 yards last weekend, with Allen Bradford gaining

84, fullback Stanley Havili 80 and Dillon Baxter 75.

“This is the closest we have played to a complete game,” Kiffin

said. “If you take out the three first-half turnovers, it was a

complete game.”

The USC defense remains a work in progress after allowing 323

yards of offense last weekend. That unit could be short-handed

after defensive end Wes Horton left the victory with an apparent

back injury.

Horton, who had a sack and blocked a punt, is uncertain to

play.

The Trojans defense will try to accomplish what it failed to do

last season – slow down Jake Locker. He completed 21 of 35 passes

and guided the Huskies on a 68-yard drive that led to the winning

field goal with three seconds left.

Locker and the Huskies have not played since the worst game of

the quarterback’s career, a 56-21 loss to then-No. 8 Nebraska on

Sept. 18. The senior went 4 of 20 for 71 yards as Washington was

overwhelmed in its first game against a ranked opponent this

year.

The Huskies’ next one probably won’t be too much easier.

“I think it will make me better going forward,” Locker said. “It

wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to play individually and where

we wanted to play as a football team.”