USC (6-3, 5-2) at Washington (9-0, 6-0)
When: Saturday, November 12th 2016
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: FOX
The Washington Huskies appear to control their own destiny in this year’s race for the College Football Playoffs, but face a tough closing stretch beginning Saturday night against red-hot USC. Washington moved into the fourth spot in the latest CFB standings despite a soft schedule, but that all changes with the Trojans, Arizona State, and Washington State on deck. Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning matched his own school record with six touchdown passes in last week’s 66-27 win at California and he also holds the single-season mark of 34 passing scores. Browning, who has passed for 2,273 yards, has two terrific targets to throw to in John Ross (44 reception, 14 touchdowns) and Dante Pettis (37 catches, 11 scores). Sophomore running back Myles Gaskins (952 yards) is closing in on his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. The defense suffered a huge blow with news that senior outside linebacker Joe Mathis (team-best five sacks) is done for the season due to a shoulder injury.
The Trojans appeared dead after starting the season 1-3, but have reeled off five straight victories by an average of 21 points and are still alive in the Pac-12 South race. Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Sam Darnold has thrown 18 touchdown pass and topped 300 yards three times during the five-game winning streak and appears he is the QB of the future in Los Angeles. Overall, he has passed for 1,874 yards and 20 touchdowns against four interceptions on the season. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is having a big campaign with 48 receptions for 641 yards and eight touchdowns. Junior CB Adoree’ Jackson is averaging 31.2 yards on kickoff returns and 14.7 on punts – returning one of each for a score. Sophomore inside linebacker Cameron Smith leads the defense with 63 tackles while sophomore outside linebacker Gustin Porter has a team-best 7.5 tackles for losses. USC leads the series 51-29-4 but Washington posted a 17-12 victory in last season’s meeting in L.A.
Darnold might be the future for USC, but he hasn’t faced a defense this good and this fast. The Trojans still have issues on defense and Washington should be able to exploit that as they score the second most points per game in the country at 48.3. I’ll take the home favorite in this one.
Pick: Washington -9