Schedules can sometimes push a team to its limits. This mid-season battle between the University of Southern California Trojans and the University of Washington Huskies is a prime example.
Both of these schools will be coming off extremely tough Pac-12 Conference road games the week before. USC will have just played the Utes before a nationally televised contest at Salt Lake City, Utah, against their primary competition in the South Division, while Washington will be coming off a brutally tough game at Eugene, Oregon, against the North Division favorite Ducks.
The game between the Trojans and Huskies will be in Seattle, Washington, but at Seahawks Stadium, while Husky Stadium is completely renovated. That kickoff is tentatively scheduled for 1:00 PM Pacific Time on October 13th. The game will feature two head coaches who worked in tandem as offensive coordinators while at USC back when Pete Carroll coached. Washington's Steve Sarkisian will be in his fourth season, while Lane Kiffin starts his third year with the Trojans. The game is critical to both teams chances of success in 2012.
For the Husky offense, the good news is quarterback Keith Price is back and although Washington loses a couple of wide-outs from last year, they still have a decent set of receivers. The bad news is Price won't be handing off to Chris Polk, one of the best running backs in the country last year. USC could be a bit thin with their defensive frontline, which means teams may be able to run on the Trojans. It will be critical that the Huskies find a running game by this time of year.
Sarkisian changed defensive coordinators by adding Justin Wilcox because, well, the University of Washington was horrible last year at stopping anybody ... or even slowing opponents up. They found themselves in shootouts many times in 2011. The defense has experience but whether talent shines through will be the question. Against a potent offense led by Matt Barkley, the Huskies will find out just where they stand quickly.
On paper, this matchup looks close. How well each team responds to adversity will more than likely decide this game. Expect this battle to be an offensive one as neither defense looks like they can make a lot of stops. In the end, USC will eventually pull out front late with a ball-control offense that the Huskies won't be able to thwart. Conference road games are hard to win but if the Trojans are victorious at Utah and then here in Washington, their chances of a championship increase tremendously.
Sarkisian has done an admirable job bringing the Washington Huskies back up to respectability but he may start to feel the heat if he's not able to move the Huskies program to the next level. How their defense responds this season will be critical to Washington and Sarkisian's success.
Next up for the Huskies is a Pac-12 road game against Arizona, while USC comes back home to host a conference game at the Coliseum with Colorado visiting.
Sources - Pac-12 Conference, University of Washington
Daryle lived in Los Angeles Ca. most of his life and has been a longtime fan of USC and the Pac-12, having closely followed the Trojans since he was just a youngster. Fight On!