No. 18 USC Football Hosts Washington

    Sept. 26, 2010

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    No. 18 USC returns to the Coliseum, where it plays 4 of its next 5 games and has won a school-record 32 consecutive home night games, to face Washington. The game's sub-plot: a battle between head coaches Lane Kiffin of USC and Steve Sarkisian of Washington, former Trojan offensive assistants who spent 5 years together in Heritage Hall. Besides Sark, 5 UW football staffers also recently worked at USC. A win would make Kiffin just the third USC head coach to begin his Trojan career 5-0.

    Troy's games against the Huskies traditionally feature close outcomes, including last year when UW handed the Trojans their first defeat of 2009 (to snap a 7-game losing skid to USC). As October arrives, USC's schedule now gets more treacherous, with each game particularly meaningful because the Trojans are barred by NCAA penalty from post-season play.

    USC opened Pac-10 play last weekend with a 34-point win at Washington State and by the second half of the contest, all 3 phases of the Trojan game were clicking for the first time this season. USC's offense, which has creeped into the national Top 25 in total offense, scoring offense, rushing offense and passing efficiency, is guided by QB Matt Barkley, who is 14th nationally in passing efficiency. The Trojan ground game features TBs Marc Tyler, Allen Bradford and Dillon Baxter, plus multipurpose FB Stanley Havili, who had both a run and reception of almost 60 yards last Saturday. WRs Ronald Johnson and freshman Robert Woods are threats as receivers and returners. USC's defense, which is proving stingy against the run thanks to the likes of DT Jurrell Casey, LBs Malcolm Smith and Devon Kennard and S T.J. McDonald, is starting to come up with turnovers (frosh CB Nickell Robey had a pair of picks last weekend, including a scoring runback). And USC's special teams have produced a big play (return or block) in every game to date.

    Washington, riding a tougher-than-expected 1-2 non-conference start, is coming off a needed bye heading into its Pac-10 opener against USC. Dangerous multi-threat QB Jake Locker directs the Husky offense, often throwing to WRs Jermaine Kearse (he is sixth nationally in receiving yards) and Devin Aguilar and handing off to young TBs Chris Polk and Jesse Callier. OLB Mason Foster is third nationally in tackles and is joined on the UW defense by the likes of SS Nate Williams, OLB Victor Aiyewa and FS Nate Fellner.

    It's Parents' Weekend at USC. The game will be shown live regionally on ESPN2, the 111th consecutive USC game on some form of live television (tying a school record), with additional viewing available on and ESPN's GamePlan.