The Washington Huskies made it look easy against Cal's subpar defense. Though Cal showed some spirit early in the game scoring a few touchdowns of their own, it was the Dawgs yet again who came out on top by a big margin. Winning 66-27 showed the Playoff Committee that Washington is the real deal and have earned their #4 ranking and possibly a spot in the national playoff if they win out. Browning again looked unstoppable throwing for 6 touchdowns and staying on the tail of Lamar Jackson for the Heisman.
The Husky Hype at this point is no longer hype. It has transcended into the realm of reality. The numbers do not lie. Washington is an elite team on both offense and defense. Yet the road is still paved with some humps they need to navigate. The next big hump is the surging USC squad. USC appeared to be dead in the water after the first four games but since then have stepped up and showed off the elite recruited talent the Trojans are known for. This next home matchup for the Huskies against an unranked Trojan team may turn out to be the most difficult game left on Washington's schedule. Let's breakdown what kind of horse the Trojans are bringing to town for UW's second College Gameday (first played at home) this season.
USC took several games to figure out Sam Darnold was their guy. Now that the QB situation is settled, USC has been on a tear pummeling opponents and looking like a top 25 team they were expected to be. They are similar to UW in their balance of running and passing. Against Oregon, USC threw for over 300 yards and added another 270 yards on the ground. Ronald Jones II has amassed nearly 400 yards rushing in the last 2 games at Cal and Oregon. This may be the first offense the Dawgs have faced this season that is good in both the run and pass game. Sam Darnold has thrown 18 touchdowns against 3 picks in the last five games the Trojans have won. Darnold's only loss was to defensive-minded Utah earlier this year. USC will likely rely on Darnold to have a big game if they have any chance to beat the Huskies. UW was able to hold Cal to 100 yards rushing with Khalfani Muhammed leading the way with only 34 yards on 8 carries. Cal is a pass first team so this may not be the best read on what UW will do against the run. Since Darnold is completing over 70 percent of his passes the last two games it is likely we will see plenty of action through air from him. The offensive line too has improved significantly for USC since the start of the season. Massive guard Zach Banner leads an experience and physical front that provides Darnold good protection to give him time to throw the ball. Of course, we said the same things about Stanford's offensive line and UW dominated the line of scrimmage against arguably the best offensive line in Pac-12.
Looking at the defense of USC one name stands out above the rest, Adoree Jackson. The leader for their defense will be put to the test trying to cover John Ross and company. Alongside Jackson is Iman Marshall who team up to make one of the best secondary units in the country. USC's defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast likes to run a nickel defense which might slow down UW's pass game. UW might rely more heavily on the run game where USC might not be able to compete as well. If UW can stay with an up tempo offense, the defense of USC may get tired as Pendergast does not like to substitute on a regular basis. USC defense is good but will they be good enough against Washington's high scoring offense?
Now let's talk about the Huskies who are riding high right now off another big win. First, let's talk about UW's strategy on offense.
Jake Browning may not say it out loud but that Heisman trophy is somewhere in his thoughts. Still, Petersen has instilled a team-oriented mentality and so Jake will do what's needed in order to win. In this game, that may mean he throws the ball a bit less and UW relies on a solid ground game from Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman. That doesn't mean the Huskies will not throw the ball, but the challenge is much greater to air out 40 yard deep route passes to Ross or Pettis like they did last week. Expect to see some more of the sweep plays to Chico McClatcher as an alternative to passing.
Defensively, Washington will be the toughest test yet for USC. Sam Darnold has built his winning reputation this season against ASU, Oregon, Cal, Colorado and Arizona. Colorado perhaps had the toughest defense they have faced but the other 4 teams were not much of a challenge. The Huskies will go after Darnold hard. USC's offensive line will not be easy to defeat but Qualls, Gaines, and Vea will try to disrupt at the line of scrimmage. Sidney Jones and Budda Baker will be key in allowing for coverage sacks or giving the defensive line the time to pressure the quarterback. The Huskies will be without Joe Mathis, their season sack leader, for the rest of the season but Connor O'Brien is doing great in replacing his productivity. Though USC is on a hot streak it seems that Washington matches up similarly to USC as they did against Stanford. USC has a better quarterback than Stanford so USC may be more of a challenge. In order for Washington defense to dominate USC they will have to force the Trojans to make some mistakes. Getting three interceptions against Cal helped put the game away. If the Huskies can steal at least two interceptions or fumbles that will go a long way to putting the Trojans away too. Lastly, Husky Stadium will be rocking and having that hometown advantage with the noise may make the difference.
Finally, UW will need to outperform the Trojans on special teams. The John Ross versus Adoree Jackson kick return matchup may create some fireworks in this game. If Van Winkle can be consistent and Vizcaino does not make any more mistakes with his rugby style punting UW my get the edge in the special teams game.
Let's make some Husky Hype predictions for this College Gameday match up.
- Gaskin runs for 150+ yards
- UW holds USC to under 350 combined yards.
- John Ross has two plays over 40 yards
- Browning adds 3 more touchdowns to his stat sheet
- Defensive line forces at least one fumble
Final Score Prediction: UW wins 38-24