USC Trojans Visit Washington In Pac-12 Battle

By: Michael Robinson | Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The USC Trojans have made their backers very unhappy playing on the road this season. They’ll have another shot at betting success at the Washington Huskies on Saturday night.

The Don Best Pro Odds have USC down to 11½-12 point favorites after opening at 13½. The total has moved up from 54 to 55½ and FOX will have the 7:00 p.m. (ET) Pac-12 battle from CenturyLink Field.

The Trojans (4-1 straight up, 1-4 against the spread) are already playing their fourth game away from home, going 0-3 ATS in the first three. That includes a shocking 21-14 loss at Stanford on September 15 as 9½-point favorites that cost them their No. 2 national ranking (AP) and perhaps a shot at the BCS Championship game.

Coach Lane Kiffin needed to get his guys quickly refocused and they have rebounded with wins versus California (27-9) and at Utah (38-28). The former was the only cover this year as 16½-point home favorites, while the latter another road failure as 14-point chalk.

The current rankings are No. 11 in the AP and No. 9 in the Coaches. The Don Best Linemakers Poll has the Trojans much higher at fourth.

Quarterback Matt Barkley was the preseason Heisman favorite, but seems to have buckled under the pressure some with his completion percentage down (64.2) and his interceptions up (five already this year).

Barkley and the passing offense surprisingly rank just 41st nationally (266 YPG). He did throw for 303 yards last week against Utah, with three TDs and no picks. That should be the norm with great receiving weapons like Marqise Lee and Robert Woods.

The running game also has two studs with Penn State transfer Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal, although the latter is questionable after suffering a concussion early last game. It should only be a matter of time before this offense breaks out for good.

The Trojans defense has been pretty good overall at 338 YPG (ranked 28th), but has been fortunate to avoid any elite offensive team.

The unranked Huskies (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) are playing this season at the home of the Seattle Seahawks while on-campus Huskies Stadium is being renovated. That move hasn’t upset the home field advantage with a 3-0 SU (2-1 ATS) mark, including a 17-13 upset over then top-10 Stanford on Sept. 27.

Coach Steve Sarkisian’s men have struggled away with a 41-3 loss at LSU and a 52-21 debacle at Oregon last week. Both teams were ranked in the top-5 nationally at the time, so were obviously extremely tough assignments.

Sarkisian was a signal caller himself in college and made his mark as a quarterbacks coach, including at USC. It must be killing him to see the pass offense fall to 184.2 YPG (ranked 104th) after being at 255.5 YPG (ranked 35th) last year.

Junior quarterback Keith Price has seen his completion percentage fall from 66.9 last year to 59.5 this season. Some of that is certainly due to the level of competition, but there is no reason he should rank last in the conference in passing efficiency (111.2).

Washington has solid receivers in sophomores Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, plus a 100-yard running back the last three weeks in Bishop Sankey. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the offense play well on Saturday.

Defensively, the Huskies are 13th in the country against the pass (173.8 YPG) and could make things very interesting with an early pick of Barkley or just some defensive stops.

Sarkisian won his first two meetings against USC, including 16-13 at home in 2009 as huge 20 ½-point underdogs. Kiffin and USC got some much-needed revenge last year, 40-17 in Southern California.

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