Washington Huskies (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. USC Trojans (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS), Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, (Natural Grass) Los Angeles, CA— College Football Week 5, Saturday, October 2nd, 8:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports West
By Jeff Hochman of JHSportsline.com
Betting Odds: UW +10/Southern Cal -10
Over/Under Total: 60.5
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Sophomore quarterback Jake Locker and the disappointing Washington Huskies travel to Los Angeles for a Pac-10 collision against Matt Barkley and the undefeated USC Trojans. The Huskies will play its first conference game of the season against the team they upset last year 16-13, as 20.5-point home underdogs. Prior to that upset the Trojans had won seven straight in the series.
Washington has two weeks to prepare for the pro-style offense that USC likes to employ. They will need to work on stopping the run and pass as Nebraska crushed the Huskies on September 18th, 56-21 as 3-point home dogs. Jake Locker looked dazed and confused going against big red’s defense. He completed four passes for 71 yards, and added two interceptions for good measure. Don’tblame Jake entirely for the loss as the defense allowed the Cornhuskers to rack up 383 rushing yards. Rex Burkhead had 104 yards rushing as Nebraska had three 100-yard rushers for the fourth time in school history.
USC continued their undefeated season with a convincing 50-16 shellacking over the hapless Washington State Cougars. The Trojans have now won two straight against-the-spread before losing their first two. Stanley Havili was finally unleashed and showed why he is considered one of the best fullbacks in all of college football. The 6-1, 225-pound senior got the offense rolling with a 59-yard touchdown run on USCs first play from scrimmage last Saturday. He later added a 58-yard reception and a 22-yard touchdown catch on a Mitch Mustain pass. The versatile fullback certainly got the attention of all the defensive coordinators in the Pac-10, by racking up a game-high 187 yards of total offense. He’s my X factor in this game for USC. Haviliblocks, runs, and catches passes all at a very high level.
Matt Barkley had another good game throwing for 290 yards and three touchdowns. He has now racked up 941 passing yards this season while completing 65% of his passes. His 12 touchdowns to only four Interceptions ratio will win a lot of games in College Football. Jake Locker has thrown for 626 yards and six touchdowns this season. He is only completing 51% through his first three games and will look to exploit a very young and inexperienced secondary.
When USC has faced teams with a decent quarterback they have struggled at times with long pass plays. Considering the Trojans are allowing 289 passing yards through the air and only 107 on the ground, I look for the Huskies to spread USC’s young defense out and take some shots downfield.
It’s going to be very tough for Washington to run on this front seven, but look for Chris Polk to run a lot of draws and screen plays in trying to slow down the Trojans’ aggressive style defense. USC will have a big advantage running the ball in this game. With Marc Tyler, Allen Bradford, and Dillon Baxter rotating carries they will have a fresh runner for the second half. If Jake Locker can match Matt Barkely than this game will be a lot closer than most people think. USC’s defense is not as dominate as Nebraska’s so the Huskies will have a fighting chance.
USC has a big game next week against the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford upset the Trojans last season 55-21, as 10.5-point underdogs. Remember Stanford going for “two” when they were up big? You can bet USC knows exactly who they play next week. I don’t think USC will be looking ahead as this is a big revenge game also.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: USC Trojans -10.
I will lean to the home team playing with revenge from last year. This is not a strong pick as the Huskies have had two weeks to prepare for a team they defeated last season. I trust that the Trojans’ pass defense is getting better as they get more experience under their belts. Washington is 2-14 SU and 5-11 ATS against teams with a winning record. Take USC minus the points!