the Gekko File: Southern Cal


The ol' girl is in the process of getting ripped apart and the Huskies officially begin their 22 month nomadic adventure starting this week with their visit to the LA Coliseum.  The scheduling of a Husky game for the second straight year at USC is part of a string of scheduling luck granted to UW by the PAC 12 Commissioner's office - a string that includes a North/South division split that lumped all the good teams in one division and missing go-rounds with a stellar UCLA program.  Regardless, UW arrives in Los Angeles licking it's wounds after another butt-pounding by the Ducks looking to extend it's win streak to USC to three.  More on USC in the Gekko File after the jump.

  • Washington is a miserable 48-28-4 all time vs the Trojans.  This includes a losing record in Seattle at 17-18-4.
  • Washington has had one win streak of five in a row (1934-38) and two of three in a row (1980-83, 1991-93).  If UW wins on Saturday, it would be the first time 3-win streak vs USC since we finished them off 22-17 in 1993.
  • USC, by comparison, has had six streaks of three wins or more in a row vs UW including a streak of seven straight that ran from 2002-08.  The Huskies lost to USC 56-0 in 2008 before upsetting them in the "Miracle on Montlake" in 2009
  • USC has put a record 492 players into the NFL. 
  • USC claims 11 national titles
  • USC has had six Heisman trophies awarded (and one taken back).  A USC player walked away with a Heisman three out of four years between 2002-05.
  • #55 was a Trojan tradition of awarding a deserving candidate linebacker with the same number that has been donned by other famous alum such as Junior Seau, Willie McGinest and Keith Rivers.  The number can only be granted to a player by the coach if he feels that it has been earned through stellar play.  That tradition was apparently thrown out the window by Lane Kiffin when he gave the number to freshman Lamar Dawson.  The talented freshman has 6 tackles and no sacks on the year ... but, hey, he just took the starting job from Chris Galippo.
  • Unlike Oregon, USC has produced a veritable cornucopia of famous and accomplished alumni including 15 astronauts ... the most famous of which is Neil Armstrong.
  • Seven heads of states of foreign countries have received their degrees from USC, but the highest ranking US official to ever call his USC his was the late great Warren Christopher.
  • "Traveler" is the official mascot of the Trojans.  Traveler is always mounted by man armed with a spear.  This man is always armed because, eventually, he has to leave the stadium.
  • The Trojan fight song is, well, a tradition.  Every time I hear it, I feel an overwhelming urge to claw out my left eyeball with a rusty spoon and to dress the wound with tabasco sauce.
  • The Trojans were officially named in 1912.  Before that, they were the Methodists.  Apparently, the students back in the day were more interested in a pagan lifestyle that encouraged anonymous sex, illicit drugs and toga parties.
  • USC is coached by Lane Kiffin.  He's kind of a douche.  You may have heard.

Washington at USC:  A Preview

The storyline for Washington at USC really has nothing to do with the familiarity of the coaches, with the "inside knowledge" they have on each other's players or with the history of our coaching staff with the USC program.  The intriguing element in this game is the similarity of offensive styles executed by each team given the fact that the playcallers of both programs where born from the same coaching spring.  The practice time that each team spends with its own offense, by definition, prepares them to play the other team.  The combination of familiarity and extended practice time introduces an element of unpredictability into the mix whenever these two teams get together. 

Despite the similarity in styles, the teams are very different in personnel.  Offensively, USC features a pure pocket passing first round talent in JR QB Matt Barkley.  Matt is having a fine year with 28 TDs against just 5 INTs.  I've really been impressed with his composure this year as I expected, as many did, that he'd have far more INTs by now given his gunslinger mentality and the state of his offensive line.  To the contrary, he's relied on his top two WRs and his emerging talent at TE to help put up some of the best numbers in the conference.  He plays behind an O-Line that features no seniors, but some great talent, including stud LT Matt Kalil.  His receiving corps features phenom Robert Woods and too-good-to-be-true FR Marqise Lee.  The running game has been a by-committee affair all year with the smallish tandem of Curtis McNeal and freshman Amir Carlisle carrying much of the load while big-back, big-mouth Marc Tyler makes his way back from injury.  This offense features a classic smash-mouth, pro-style attack that makes heavy use of its running backs and kills you with its big-play receivers.  As the o-line matures and gels, USC is becoming harder and harder to stop.

Defensively, USC has big, talented athletes in all the places Pac 12 teams are not used to having them.  The defensive line features some studs including Nick Perry and Wes Horton.  The back seven are a crew of smaller, faster athletes than we are used to seeing from USC.  The linebacking crew features three freshman starters including 6 ft / 200 lb Dion Bailey who, despite his dimensions, has 28 tackles and a couple of sacks this year.  He has thrived in Monte Kiffin's adjusted Tampa 2 defense and has been complimented by an effective secondary that is highlighted by future NFL first round pick, T.J. McDonald.  For as talented as this defense is, it is still young and prone to suffering from both fatigue and mental mistakes. 

Washington will try to do what it always does against USC by featuring a lot of formation trickery and a lot of Chris Polk running the ball.  The strategy will be to own the clock, limit mistakes and force the young LB corps of USC to keep making plays.  Most of you know that USC runs a Tampa 2 scheme which involves the safeties covering deep on the edges with the MLB dropping into the deep zone down the middle.  While they are boasting that the MLB is not playing as deep this year, he still pretty much does.  This means we ought to get some pretty good looks at deep routes up the middle - Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Jermaine Kearse territory.  I expect UW to be able to move the ball a bit more than they did against Oregon.

However, I can also see USC having it's way with us on the other side.  While I've been impressed with the steady improvement of the defense since after the Stanford game - especially the improving play of the interior of the line and the outside backers - I can't help but to think that our inability to mount a pass rush against even poor quality O-Lines and our inability to cover big play receivers is going to really sting us.  I like what Sean Parker and Will Shamburger are bringing to the table at the safety positions, but I don't think it is enough to stop USC from moving the ball and, let's face it, this Trojan team is one that is well-equipped to handle red zone trips given the muscle and size that they possess.  I trust UW will be more risk-taking in this game with hopes of limiting red zone trips and goading Barkley into a bad pass or two.  I can see us generating a few turnovers in between giving up a few really big passing plays.

Prediction:  USC 38 - UW 37

This pains me.  As badly as I want to pick UW on this one, I'm already having bad dreams about Robert Woods and Marqise Lee lighting us up.  In the end, USC wins in a close one, despite the fact that the UW offense will outscore the USC offense.  Keith Price will continue his up and down play another week throwing for three TDs and two INTs.  Chris Polk will bounce back with a strong 125+ yard day.  Kearse will drop at least two passes, but wow us again with at least two amazing grabs.  Nick Holt will shoot laser beams out of eyes and burn the black off the stripes of the side judge who will flag the UW secondary for three PI calls over the course of the game.  Lane Kiffin will do his best Opie routine after the game while slyly pointing out that he did something that Pete Carroll never did - beat Steve Sarkisian.  USC fans will still hate Lane after the game, but they'll be happy to get the win.

What are you all expecting this weekend?  Leave your comments below, or else I'm going to give Pat Haden your phone number and Jerry Sandusky your home address.  Don't eff with me on this.

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