Prey on the Weak
Los Angeles, CA - Southern California's loss in its conference opener didn't bode well for the team's bid to win at least a share of its seventh straight Pac-10 title.
However, the Trojans' success within the conference since then, combined with coach Pete Carroll's unblemished record in November, has dramatically improved USC's outlook.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made USC -43 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on USC -43 (View College Football bet percentages).
The seventh-ranked Trojans look to win their fifth straight game against a Pac-10 rival and improve to 24-0 under Carroll in November on Saturday when they host a winless Washington team that announced this week that coach Tyrone Willingham will step down at the end of the season.
USC (6-1, 4-1) dominated then-No. 5 Ohio State 35-3 on Sept. 13 to take over its familiar spot as the No. 1 team in the country and put itself in good position to challenge for another conference title and perhaps even the national championship.
Both of those goals took a hit when the Trojans lost their Pac-10 opener 27-21 at Oregon State on Sept. 25. Since then, however, USC has won four straight conference games by a combined 158-20.
"We're getting this thing moving," Carroll said after his team survived a 17-10 scare at Arizona last Saturday. "This could be a really strong season for us. But we've got to take these things as they come to us.
"I don't think there's any question, we can win every game with our offense, the way they're playing and playing off of this defense. We're good enough. Now we have to prepare and perform like it every time we go out. That's obviously the great challenge."
If history is any indication, the Trojans should be up to the challenge now that they're entering November. They're undefeated in 23 November games spanning seven seasons under Carroll.
That may inspire confidence in the Trojans, but returning to the national championship game for the third time in five seasons remains a long shot. They claim they're not looking that far ahead.
"It'd be nice to play in the national championship at the end of the year, but we don't control that," linebacker Brian Cushing said. "What we control is Washington, and the rest of the games that we play in."
The Trojans are heavy favorites against the woeful Huskies (0-7, 0-4), who announced Monday that this would be Willingham's last season with the team. The embattled coach is 11-32 in his three-plus seasons after an embarrassing 33-7 loss to Notre Dame last Saturday dropped Washington to 0-7 for the first time since it opened 0-9 in 1969.
"We didn't win enough football games. That's it," said Willingham, whose team has lost nine straight since a 37-23 victory over California on Nov. 17. "Hopefully, we've done all the other things right, (and) it's a good strong program for someone to jump into and do things."
From now until the end of the season, however, it'll be Willingham trying to turn the program around. There's plenty of room for improvement after the Huskies were held to 124 yards in last week's loss to the Fighting Irish, the team Willingham coached before taking over in Seattle.
"Right now the thing we've got to draw on is basic pride," Willingham said after the loss but before announcing the end of his tenure with Washington. "We've got to step up, coaches and players and all of us have to step up and be better than what we did because this was not a good performance."
Washington's yardage total last week was its lowest since it was held to 113 in a 38-0 loss at then-No. 1 USC on Oct. 23, 2004. The Huskies could again struggle to move the ball against a Trojans defense that leads the Football Bowl Subdivision in allowing only 215.6 scrimmage yards and 8.1 points per game.
"The defense is what gives you a chance to win every single time you go out," Carroll said. "They're playing great football."
USC is 48-26-4 all-time against Washington, including 6-1 under Carroll. The Huskies, though, have made an upset bid in each of their last two games against the Trojans. They fell to third-ranked USC 26-20 in their last trip to the Los Angeles Coliseum in 2006 before dropping last season's meeting against the top-ranked Trojans 27-24.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
USC is 8-6 against the spread versus WASHINGTON since 1992
USC is 9-4 straight up against WASHINGTON since 1992
8 of 12 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
WASHINGTON is 2-0 against the spread versus USC over the last 3 seasons
USC is 2-0 straight up against WASHINGTON over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at USC since 1992
USC is 4-2 against the spread versus WASHINGTON since 1992
USC is 5-1 straight up against WASHINGTON since 1992
4 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at USC over the last 3 seasons.
WASHINGTON is 1-0 against the spread versus USC over the last 3 seasons
USC is 1-0 straight up against WASHINGTON over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
No significant injuries.
[RB] Joe McKnight missed last game ~?~ - Toe - 10/18/08
[RB] Marc Tyler missed last game, downgraded to expected to miss. - Thigh
[FB] Stanley Havili is "?". - Ankle - 10/22/08
[RB] Allen Bradford expected to miss remainder of the season - Hip - 10/17
[WR] Vidal Hazelton missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Concussion -
[WR] Damian Williams is "?". - Shoulder - 10/23/08
[TE] Rhett Ellison is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. - Fibula - 10/03/08
[TE] Jimmy Miller missed last game ~?~ - Illness - 10/18/08
[OL] Zack Heberer missed last game ~?~ - Toe - 10/18/08
[C] Michael Reardon is out indefinitely - Hip - 09/07/08
[OL] Butch Lewis missed last game ~?~ - Illness - 10/18/08
[DE] Everson Griffen missed last game ~?~ - Illness - 10/19/08
[DE] Gerald Washington injured last game ~?~ - Ankle - 10/20/08
[DT] Fili Moala is "?". - Ankle - 10/23/08
[CB] Cary Harris is "?". - Hamstring - 10/21/08
[CB] Shareece Wright is expected to miss up to 6 weeks. - Neck - 09/23/08
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Posted: 10/28/08 5:44 PM