USC vs. Washington prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Saturday night’s matchup between the Trojans and Huskies.
When: Saturday, Nov. 12 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington
TV Broadcast: FOX
Clay Helton has done a great job in his first full season as the Trojans’ head coach. USC (6-3) started off rocky but has since turned it around with five straight wins. The Trojans have ran through, in sequential order, Arizona State, Colorado, Arizona, Cal, and, most recently, Oregon. USC handed the Ducks a 45-20 loss last weekend in Los Angeles.
The problem for the Trojans is they’re taking on an unscathed Washington (9-0) team, which sits in first place in the Pac-12 North Division. The Huskies have piled up the wins, and their more impressive wins have a 44-6 rout of Stanford and a 31-24 victory over Utah. Chris Petersen’s team went into Berkeley last weekend and hung 66 points on Cal, who managed only 27 of its own.
Last season’s meeting between the Trojans and Huskies went in Washington’s favor, 17-12, and that was in L.A. However, USC does own the lead in the all-time series, 50-29-4.
What To Know About USC
Helton made a great call when he benched Max Browne and gave the starting job to Sam Darnold. The redshirt freshman has been amazing for the Trojans so far. His performance against Oregon wasn’t great, but it was solid. Darnold landed 28-of-40 throws for 309 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. One of those touchdowns went to Deontay Burnett. He caught seven passes for 87 yards, and the other score went to Taylor McNamara, who hauled in four balls for 47 yards.
The real beast for USC was Ronald Jones II. He tallied 171 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns on 20 carries for the Trojans. Oregon had no answer for him. James Toland IV added 49 yards on eight carries, and Dominic Davis ran six times for 28 yards.
What to Know About Washington
Jake Browning has been unbelievable this season, and that continued in the win over the Golden Bears. The sophomore quarterback completed 19-of-28 passes for 378 yards and six touchdowns — ridiculous. Three of Browning’s touchdowns went to John Ross, who caught six balls for 208 yards. The other three scoring strikes went to Dante Pettis, who reeled in eight passes for 104 yards. Pettis also threw a touchdown for 39 yards to Darrell Daniels.
On the ground, Lavon Coleman and Myles Gaskin combined for 182 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, but the Washington defense got some bad news on Monday. Senior outside linebacker Joe Mathis, who had missed the last three games with a foot injury, is out for the season and will require surgery. With Mathis in the lineup, the Huskies had racked up 24 sacks. Since he got hurt, they’ve totaled three in three games.
Offense: Washington – Browning has two phenomenal weapons in Ross and Pettis, and they’ve been on the same page all season long.
Defense: Washington – Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria are beasts, and the Huskies get the edge even without Mathis.
Special Teams: Washington – Cameron Van Winkle has hit on 8-of-11 field goals, but all three misses have come from at least 40 yards out. He’s accounted for 81 points this season.
Coaching: Washington – Helton has done a great job, but his team isn’t the one contending for a College Football Playoff berth.
Matchup To Watch
Jake Browning vs. Sam Darnold
Get used to seeing this matchup because it’s going to be a real shootout next season when both quarterbacks return for what will likely be their last college season. They’ll both be eligible for the NFL Draft after the 2017 season. Regardless of all that noise, though, both young guns can really light it up in a hurry, and it’ll come down to whichever quarterback can hit his sparks and convert on third down the most. Both are more athletic than they’re given credit for, too, so keep an eye on when the pockets collapse and their forced to make things happen with their legs.
Spread: Washington -8.5
USC vs. Washington Prediction
Okay, so obviously the Huskies have been dominating Pac-12 opponents — with the exception of Utah — but this is a tough game for Petersen’s crew. Helton has the Trojans playing inspired, and Darnold has really emerged as one of better quarterbacks in the conference. Darnold is going to explode out of the gate and take advantage of Washington’s lack of a pass rush with Mathis out. He’ll throw for three touchdowns and at least 200 yards. Jones will do a lot of the heavy lifting in the running game for USC, though. Browning will play really well, too, and he’ll find Pettis and Ross like he always does. However, Darnold will lead the Trojans on final drive to stun the Huskies on their home field and dampen their shot for a CFP run.
USC vs. Washington Score Prediction: USC 42, Washington 41