2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 11, Washington at USC
Pac-12 Fearless Predictions &
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WashingtonNov. 12 at USC 40 … Washington 17
CFN Analysis: USC keeps finding ways to be motivated, and after two straight losses to Washington, the team stepped up its play and acted like this rally mattered. … The offensive line dominated the Husky defensive front paving the way for 148 yards from Curtis McNeal, highlighted by his 79-yard dash. … Robert Woods was strangely absent, catching two passes for five yards, but Marqise Lee continues to show why he’s one of the best young players in college football catching nine passes for 74 yards and a score. … The O line was good, the D line was better with six sacks including two from Nick Perry. … No, the Trojans can’t play for the Pac-12 title, but if they beat Oregon next week, they can claim the championship.
On a two-game losing streak and with losses in three of the last four games, the Huskies have fallen flat at the wrong time. Fortunately, Oregon State and Washington State are up next to right the ship. … Can Nick Montana move the offense? Keith Price was playing well, completing 12-of-16 passes for 125 yards, before getting knocked out with a knee injury. Montana was fine, completing 9-of-15 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown, but he was under pressure all game long. … The game got out of hand too quickly for Chris Polk to be a factor, finishing with 36 yards and a score on nine carries. … The beleaguered pass defense came up with one of its better games, but the run defense was soft. The secondary will have to gear it up against over the fnal two games against the Beavers and Cougars.
(AP) LOS ANGELES -- After Southern California lost to Washington on last-gasp field goals in each of the last two years, the Trojans (No. 18 AP) made sure the final seconds of the latest meeting didn't matter at all.
Marqise Lee caught a touchdown pass and returned the second-half kickoff 88 yards for a score, and Curtis McNeal had a 79-yard TD sprint among his career-high 148 yards rushing in USC's 40-17 victory over Washington on Saturday.
Matt Barkley passed for 174 yards and one touchdown while running for an early score for the Trojans (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12), who made sure Huskies kicker Erik Folk played no significant role, as he did in each of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian's first two meetings with his former employer.
"This has become a big rivalry," said Trojans coach Lane Kiffin, who coached alongside Sarkisian at USC for much of the previous decade. "It's going to be a very competitive rivalry for a long time."
Just not this time. Kiffin's Trojans seem to be getting better every week down the stretch, winning five of six heading into next weekend's trip to Oregon.
Marc Tyler rushed for a score for the bowl-banned Trojans, who took a 20-point halftime lead despite a rare quiet game from receiver Robert Woods. The sophomore had a season-low two catches -- one on a forward pitch -- for 5 yards.
Barkley also didn't need to do much after throwing a school-record six TD passes last week at Colorado. Barkley's offense outgained the Huskies 401-148 in the first three quarters with stern defense and two huge plays on special teams: the kickoff return by Lee, who required IV fluids on Friday after coming down with a fever, and a 35-yard run on a picture-perfect fake punt by Kyle Negrete setting up another score.
"I knew we lost to this team twice in the last two years," said Lee, a freshman who wasn't around for either defeat. "It feels good to break that streak with the W."
Lee, Woods' former high-school teammate, had his second straight impressive game with nine catches for 74 yards. Kiffin called him the best player on the field.
Keith Price passed for just 125 yards for Washington (6-4, 4-3) before leaving with an injured left knee in the third quarter of the Huskies' third loss in four weeks to Top-25 opponents. Chris Polk rushed for a season-low 36 yards and a touchdown for the Huskies, who have lost to Stanford, Oregon and USC since their 5-1 start.
"I knew they had a chip on their shoulder," Washington linebacker Cort Dennison said. "I wasn't surprised they came out with fire at all."
Sarkisian was left lamenting poor offensive execution and special-teams struggles after his first loss to the powerful Trojans, who employed him as an assistant coach to Pete Carroll for most of the past decade. Washington beat Carroll's final USC team and Lane Kiffin's first squad on Folk's field goals.
"I think our kids really wanted to play well, and they tried hard," Sarkisian said. "We just didn't execute. I tip my hat to SC. They're a good team, and they've really improved."
Price went 12 for 16 for 125 yards -- his lowest total since the Huskies' season opener -- and failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time all season. The sophomore from nearby Compton was shaken up repeatedly while getting sacked four times before he was replaced by Nick Montana.
Joe Montana's son threw his first career TD pass with 13 seconds to play, hitting Kasen Williams with a 20-yard fade.
Kiffin had the jump on Sarkisian, his longtime friend and co-offensive coordinator at USC for several seasons, from the opening minutes. After Barkley scored the Trojans' first points on a sneak, USC went up 14-3 on Tyler's short TD run to cap an 80-yard drive highlighted by Negrete's run.
"There was no way I was going to slide," said Negrete, who took a hit on the way out of bounds. "I haven't seen green grass like that since I was playing in high school."
A Washington penalty, a catch overturned by video review and a terrible shotgun snap then resulted in a safety when USC's Devon Kennard sacked Price in the end zone. USC fielded the ensuing punt and marched down for Lee's 9-yard TD catch.
Lee also opened the second half with a phenomenal kick return, almost coming to a stop before breaking out the back side of a scrum and running down the USC sideline, where he made a devilish stutter-step to lose the last Washington defender. Lee's return even stunned Barkley, who forgot to run onto the field to hold for the ensuing extra point, resulting in a penalty that didn't matter.
Washington's offense immediately awoke with a 53-yard pass to Kevin Smith, setting up Polk's 1-yard TD run just 84 seconds into the second half -- but on USC's next play, McNeal easily broke down the Huskies sideline and scored when pursuing cornerback Will Shamburger whiffed on a tackle at the 15.
(6-3) at USC (7-2) Nov. 12, 3:30, FX
Here’s The Deal … Okay, so it’s not Oregon-Stanford, but it’s still a rather intriguing undercard on the Week 11 Pac-12 slate.
USC has delivered a very solid past month of football, dispatching signals that it might be ready to emerge from its NCAA-sanctioned rabbit hole with enough weapons to contend for league supremacy in 2012. The Trojans have rolled to four wins in five games, trumping Notre Dame in South Bend, and dragging unbeaten Stanford through three overtimes. However, the offseason perception of Troy, which remains ineligible for the postseason, will hinge on how it finishes the regular season versus Washington, Oregon and UCLA. The Huskies have had two opportunities to shake up the standings in the North Division … and failed miserably both times.
Three weeks ago, U-Dub got trounced by the Cardinal, 65-21, and last weekend, it got doubled up by the Ducks at home, 34-17. It’s generally been a good year for head coach Steve Sarkisian, the former USC assistant under Pete Carroll, but he still needs to validate it with a quality win. With remaining games against Oregon State and Washington State, this is his last chance to pick up a true statement victory in 2011.
Why Washington Might Win: If the Huskies are going to get out of the Coliseum with a statement win, it’s going to be fostered by the offense. Sure, USC has improved defensively, but there are still chinks in the armor that a balanced and potent attack is capable of exposing. Washington can keep the Trojans on their heels with the tough inside running of Chris Polk, and the deft passing of Keith Price. Price has myriad options, such as WR Jermaine Kearse and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, to stretch the secondary like Play-Doh. Yeah, Troy is going to put up points, but U-Dub has the necessary weapons to go stride-for-stride in the event that a track meet breaks out in Los Angeles.
Why USC Might Win: As the competition has improved, the performance of the Washington defense has started to slip. In the last three games with Stanford, Arizona and Oregon, the Huskies have yielded 65, 31 and 34 points, respectively. The Trojans, on the other hand, have been hanging up no fewer than 30 points in each of the last five games. QB Matt Barkley has been on a tear, throwing a school-record six touchdown passes last week, and teaming up swimmingly with explosive receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. While USC hopes to have access to powerful RB Marc Tyler, Curtis McNeal has done a fine job whenever his snaps have increased, giving the offense the attitude and the balance that it covets.
What To Watch Out For: Washington needs to do a better job of protecting the quarterback, especially in a game against the Trojans. The Huskies are No. 87 nationally in sacks allowed, a major concern this weekend. Although USC has been just average at getting pressure this fall, you never want to get too comfortable when DE Nick Perry and DT DaJohn Harris are on the other side of the line. Plus, the linebackers have a jail-break mentality when there’s a chance to get into the backfield and cause chaos. USC is eager to get back feisty LB Dion Bailey, who has yet to be cleared following a concussion.
What Will Happen: Washington can hang with USC … but not for all 60 minutes. The offense will keep the Huskies afloat past halftime, but the defense will eventually wilt under the pressure of a blossoming Trojans offense. Barkley will have considerable success through the air, connecting with Woods and Lee for at least 100 receiving yards. With a nice mix of the ground game to contend with, U-Dub simply won’t have enough answers on defense to seal off the floodgates. USC will pull away by the end of the quarter, spending the final 15 minutes protecting a double-digit cushion.
CFN Prediction: USC 38 … Washington 27
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