Washington had a bye week to think about their loss to Nebraska and re-charge before heading down to Los Angeles to take on perennial Pac-10 power USC.
The Trojans just finished their four-game "preseason", walloping Washington State in Pullman. USC head coach Lane Kiffin used the first four games as an opportunity to work out the kinks on the fly and get prepared for the rigorous Pac-10 season. With Washington coming to town, USC should get their first real test this Saturday.
But the party won't last long. The Trojans will now begin a tough stretch of conference games. At home against a Steve Sarkisian-coached Washington team that beat 'SC a year ago in Seattle. A roadtrip to the Bay Area to face undefeated Stanford, followed by home dates against Cal and Oregon. Yes, it's time to put on the big boy pants.
The Huskies, on the other hand, finished their non-conference schedule 1-3, beating only the hapless Syracuse Orange at home. Washington's losses to BYU and Nebraska both looked much worse after this past weekend, with BYU finishing their non-conference schedule 1-3 and Nebraska failing to distance themselves from South Dakota State.
Although Washington quarterback Jake Locker had the worst performance of his career against Nebraska -- completing only four passes for 71 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions -- USC head coach Lane Kiffin is not taking the senior lightly. The LA Times' Gary Klien caught up with Kiffin Sunday and got his thoughts on Locker.
USC Coach Lane Kiffin said Sunday night that Locker was the best player USC will have faced this season and that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior was worthy of projections as the possible No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
Saturday also marks the first meeting between Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian and his former staff-mate Lane Kiffin. The LA Daily News' Scott Wolf asked Kiffin about facing his friend and what it means to him.
"It really doesn't mean anything," Kiffin said. "This game isn't about myself or him. This has nothing to do with me or him. We want to do better than we did in our first game at the Coliseum (against Virginia)."
The Trojans are favored at home this weekend, with Vegas pegging the Huskies as an 11.5 point underdog. USC wants to make a statement and erase the upset-loss to Washington in Seattle last year. The LA Times' Gary Klien also took a look at that angle in his post-game notes from USC's win over the Washington State Cougars.
Kiffin acknowledged familiarity with Washington's schemes and said, "There was a lot of focus to Game 5" in the off-season.
"We'll see if it pays off," he said, "because we've spent a ton of time on these guys."
It's clear both teams are looking to make a statement at The Coliseum this weekend. USC wants to prove they're still an upper-echelon team in the Pac-10, while Washington wants to shake-off the non-conference losses and gain a signature win over the Trojans.
USC and Washington kick it off Saturday in LA at 5 p.m. on the ESPN family of networks.