USC Trojans vs. Washington Huskies Week 5 Pick

by | Sep 25, 2019 | cfb

USC Trojans (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Washington Huskies (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS)

College Football Week 5

Date and Time: Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 3:30PM EDT

Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington

TV: Fox

Point Spread: USC +10/WASH -10

Over/Under Total: 59.5

The USC Trojans come to Seattle for a big Pac-12 showdown with the Washington Huskies on Saturday afternoon. This contest is a battle of 3-1 teams, both looking to establish some foothold in the conference. Both scored wins last week, with the Trojans managing to get through even more injuries to beat the tenth-ranked Utah Utes at home. They look to go to 3-0 in the conference this week against a Huskies team that smashed a BYU team that had beaten USC. The 45-19 win has them eager to win their first conference game of the season.

The Road Here and Why it Matters

Both teams have been through a lot for it being just week five. USC is down to their third-string quarterback in Matt Fink, though second-stringer Kedon Slovis is questionable as of press time. Their AD jumped ship. Coach Clay Helton is under fire. Injuries have besieged them. Yet, they dusted themselves off and beat a top-ten Utah team, showing some good mettle and wherewithal. After previously beating Stanford, they are now in an excellent spot to take a 3-0 conference mark into the rest of the season. All issues aside, this team has shown some resolve and that they’re still a threat to anyone in this conference.

In Washington’s first conference game, as nearly two-touchdown favorites, they lost to Cal at home. Looking to avoid consecutive home-conference losses to open the season, they will be pushing hard this week. Things looked good with a revamped Washington team to start the season, with the disappointment of the Cal loss bringing them down to earth. Two blowout wins in a row hopefully have them pointed in the right direction because this USC team can’t be taken for granted. Washington hasn’t delivered in this realm as of late. Going back the course of over a season, Washington has struggled in the role of a strong home-favorite.

Which Offense Can Deliver in This Spot?

No matter what’s wrong with USC, they will always have abundant offensive talent. Standouts on that side of the ball will still be in tow for the Trojans. And we saw that last week, with a lot of guys stepping up for the big home-win. After Slovis was knocked out of the game, third-stringer Matt Fink stepped in and threw for 351 yards and three TDs. Michael Pittman, Jr. caught ten balls for 231 yards, with Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown each catching a TD. They’re starting to forge a pretty dependable aerial-attack, despite the carousel of quarterbacks in rotation. With Vavae Malepai at running back, defenses can’t just focus on the air-attack. There is a lot of spark on this side of the ball. Washington’s defense, lately a great manufacturer of top defensive backs, will need to be on-point this week.

Despite the letdown against Cal, Washington has been showing a pretty balanced and strong offense, averaging over 40 points a game under the new stewardship of quarterback Jacob Eason. He has been completing over 73% of his passes with ten TD throws against just two picks. He relies on a three-headed monster at running back with Salvon Ahmed, Richard Newton, and Sean McGrew. He has a trio of dangerous ball-catchers in Aaron Fuller, Hunter Bryant, and Andre Baccellia. In the first conference game of the season, however, we saw a Huskies offensive line suffering against Cal at times. Maybe they can have better luck against a USC pass-rush that hasn’t found its footing yet.

Is the Trojans’ Defense Up-to-Snuff in a Difficult Spot?

When a Trojans’ team that has been through a lot this season is coming off a win over a top-ten team, it’s weird to take their “D” to task, but it isn’t terribly special. Against Fresno and BYU, the defense struggled for long stretches of the game. Only in their win over Utah last week, did they appear even to have the conditioning to hang in there. Especially late in games when all the chips are in the middle of the pot. But some pieces have returned to the rotation, like DE Christian Rector and they did better on Saturday. Still, they gave up almost 250 yards rushing and nearly 500 yards total, but they were actually pretty tight and clutch when they needed to be. It was a good game for this defense to get under their belts before this daunting road-test.

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Washington Defense Looking to Stymie the Trojans

So far this season, the Washington defense hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in any game. Against a BYU team that a Trojans’ defense couldn’t stop, they held them to 19 points and just over 350 yards of offense—not bad in a difficult road-spot. DB Asa Turner had a pick. And Washington features a top secondary, with playmakers that can do damage, with Miles Bryant, Elijah Molden, Trent McDuffie, and others. Fuller is also a dangerous return man, another facet that could materialize in this game. But if we see a Trojans’ offense having any kind of the same success they had last week, this is going to be a tough number to cover for the Huskies.

Take the Number on the Road Dog

I don’t question whether there are some troubling matchup components here for the Trojans. It’s not too hard to picture a Washington offense having some success against a not-ready-for-primetime Trojans’ defense in this spot. And with a reserve in at quarterback, this seems like as good a time as any for reality to set in for the USC offense, facing a really good defense in a road-spot. Add into that how Washington is looking for their first conference win and a loss this week really puts a stink on their early-season, and one can start to justify a position on the Huskies. I just don’t like laying a big number in this position and think the Trojans have enough offense to keep this one in the ballpark.

Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the USC Trojans plus 10 points.

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