O/NSO - Washington preview

The intensity of the Rose Bowl race becomes secondary when the defensive backfields of the No. 5 USC Trojans (6-1, 2-1 Pac-10) and the unranked Washington Huskies (4-3, 2-1) will probably decide Saturday afternoon's Seattle Pac-10 eliminator.

The Obvious – The intensity of the Rose Bowl race becomes secondary when the defensive backfields of the No. 5 USC Trojans (6-1, 2-1 Pac-10) and the unranked Washington Huskies (4-3, 2-1) will probably decide Saturday afternoon's Seattle Pac-10 eliminator.

The Not So Obvious – ABC regional television will focus on USC sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart and Washington's senior thrower Cody Pickett, but the outcome will probably depend on which team's secondary can contain the match-up of the best collection of wide receivers on the West Coast.

The Obvious – The Trojans' pass defense is seventh in the Pac-10 and 96th among 117 Division 1-A teams, an obvious concern by the Trojans' defensive guru Pete Carroll.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans fate will be tied to their questionable secondary and to the Husky offense that ranks 22nd nationally in passing offense. The Trojans have faced passing machines, but more than the attack designs, it has been the blown coverages and errant assignments that have burned the Trojan secondary. It is the mental part of the Husky passing game that will be the most challenging for SC's maligned defensive backfield.

The Obvious – Despite the leaky secondary, the one thing this group of athletes can do is scramble your molecules if they have a shot, something that UW receivers Reggie Williams and Charles Frederick are fully aware.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans' secondary challenge may not be at the corners as much as the safety positions. It figures that Cody Pickett will be searching out Darnell Bing and Jason Leach, as did the Cal Bears.

The Obvious – The Trojans come into Seattle with a high-powered offense that is fueled by the hot passing of sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart, who will test the respected secondary of the Huskies.

The Not So Obvious – In contrast to the Trojans seventh-ranked Pac-10 pass defense, the Huskies are ranked second in Pac-10 pass defense giving up 221 yards per game. The Huskies have also intercepted nine passes this season, three of which game last week against Oregon State quarterback Derek Anderson.

The Obvious – The Trojan offensive line will again play a key role in protecting the body of Matt Leinart, who is tenth in the nation in pass efficiency.

The Not So Obvious – Besides now having a three-game rushing streak of over 200 yards, the improving Trojan offensive line has allowed the fewest sacks in the Pac-10 (11 in seven games). Give credit to gregarious line coach Tim Davis, who certainly will be possessed on Saturday afternoon trying to make sure the Trojan offensive line knows its assignments.

The Obvious – The Trojans' youthful three-headed tailback monster of Hershel Dennis, LenDale White, and Reggie Bush may have as much an impact in the game as Matt Leinart, seeing that Washington is ranked 6th in the Pac-10 in rush defense.

The Not So Obvious – The young trio will be put to the test Saturday by a confident Husky defense that held Oregon State's vaunted All-Pac-10 tailback Steven Jackson to 49 yards rushing, the first time Jackson had been held under 100 yards this season.

The Obvious – The Trojans average 39.4 points on offense and allow 19.4 points on defense.

The Not So Obvious – Washington averages 27.3 points on offense and allows 23.3 points on defense.

The Obvious –West Virginia upset third-ranked Virginia Tech on Wednesday night in Morgantown, so the Trojans' BCS fate may really ride on what kind of performance they dispense in Seattle.

The Not So Obvious - One of the more interesting aspects of Saturday's game will be the mental frame of mind for the fifth-ranked Trojans. Will there be a letdown in Seattle after playing almost a perfect final three quarters in South Bend? Virginia Tech may have been looking past West Virginia to Miami on Nov.1. Might the Trojans be caught looking past the Huskies to Washington State in the Coliseum? Don't think so.

The Obvious – There is no question that this year's Trojan secondary is suspect and vulnerable, especially against balanced attacking teams.

The Not So Obvious – Much will depend on which Cody Pickett shows up to face the Trojans. If it's the one that self-destructed by throwing deadly second half interceptions at UCLA, the Trojans will be sitting pretty. Let's not forget that Pickett did throw for 350 yards against the Trojans last year.

The Obvious – While both Mike Williams and Reggie Williams are the headline wide receivers for their respective teams, it's the "supporting" receivers, Keary Colbert of USC and Charles Frederick of UW, that may have equal impact on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – While Colbert's exploits are becoming All-Pac-10 obvious, the Trojans must be very careful of UW's Frederick, who exploded last week in the Husky win over ranked Oregon State. Prince Charles broke UW legend Hugh McElhenny's record of 362 total yards in the Beaver game with a stunning 371 all-purpose yards, including 216 yards receiving for two scores and an 86-yard punt return to the house.

The Obvious – WR Charles Frederick has been an off-field challenge for Husky coaches as the youngster had some real freshman issues that almost lead his return to his home in Lake Worth, Florida.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps forgotten is the fact that Charles Frederick (6-0, 180) was once considered one of the nation's premier basketball point guards coming out of the prep ranks.

The Obvious – The Trojans unveiled to the country at Notre Dame a talented stable of backs, all whom proved to be both running and receiving threats.

The Not So Obvious – The Huskies' rushing attack will have to be better than last year's –5 yards rushing against the Trojans if they are to stay with the USC scoring machine. With UW tailback Rick Alexis, the senior from Coral Springs, Florida, questionable due to a bruised thigh, the Trojans may get to see heralded redshirt freshman Kenny James (5-10, 215) from Dos Palos, California.

The Obvious – The Trojans completely destroyed Notre Dame last weekend 45-14, an impressive outing to be sure.

The Not So Obvious – Impressive unless you are UW offensive tackle Khalif Barnes who watched some of the game on NBC before the Huskies' game against Oregon State. Barnes informed, " USC's defense is nowhere near Oregon State's defense, to be honest with you."

The Obvious – If the Trojans are going to take control on Saturday, the SC defensive front four and impressive reserves will be needed, especially if Pickett throws over 35 times.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans will get their shots in on Pickett just as UCLA did successfully in the second half at the Rose Bowl. Key players for the Trojans on Saturday could turn out to be reserves LeJuan Ramsey and Frosty Rucker, and let's not forget emerging defensive tackle Manuel Wright, who saw surprising first quarter action in South Bend.

The Obvious – The Trojans have been installed as 10-point favorites to finish the Huskies' dream of playing on New Years in Pasadena.

The Not So Obvious – Having just shattered the Notre Dame Stadium "jinx", Husky Stadium as been no bowl of cherries for the Trojans as USC has not won in Seattle since 1993 and has lost nine of their last 13 games.

The Obvious – In the past number of years, the team with the talented senior quarterback has won the Pac-10 title, and the Huskies have Cody Pickett (6-4, 225), who can light it up with the best of them when he is hot.

The Not So Obvious – Pickett's father, Dee, was a championship roper on the Professional Rodeo Circuit and was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in August.

The Obvious – USC has scored 30 points in the last 14 of 15 games.

The Not So Obvious – According to Washington coach Keith Gilbertson, the Trojans have the players to do it. Gilbertson said, "Everybody in the skill positions contributes; all the backs get positive yards and the front plays well and the quarterback is playing well. So you just hope that you can slow them down."

The Obvious – The Trojans' offense cranks 426.9 yards per game.

The Not So Obvious – The Huskies' offense cranks for 404.1 yards per game.

The Obvious – With 6-1 record, USC is off to its best start since1995, the season that took Keyshawn and Troy to a Rose Bowl win over Cinderella Northwestern.

The Not So Obvious – During that championship season, the Trojans had one helleva comeback at Washington to finish the game tied at 21-21, which proved to be an important moment in the Rose Bowl's final breakdown. Down 21-0 going into the fourth quarter, Troy scored three touchdowns, the last a 2-yard score from Brad Otton to Johnny McWilliams with 33 seconds remaining. Adam Rendon's PAT tied the game.

The Obvious – The last time the Trojans played in Seattle in 2001, Husky placekicker John Anderson kicked a 32-yard field goal at the gun for a 27-24 UW win.

The Not So Obvious – Husky Stadium has not been kind to Pete Carroll. In Carroll's senior season at Pacific, the Trojans' head coach lost to then No. 9 Washington 13-6, but safety Carroll had eight tackles.

The Obvious – Last year on the Coliseum grass, the Trojans waxed the Huskies 41-21 as Carson Palmer threw four touchdowns, three of which went to WR Mike Willliams.

The Not So Obvious – Husky Stadium will try to slow the Trojans down with its artificial turf. The fleet Trojans figures to be faster on the turf, and USC's record on the fake grass is 14-10-1.in the their last 25 games.

The Obvious – The weather outlook looks good as the prediction for Saturday in Seattle calls for a high of 63 degrees and cloudy, a perfect Northwest day.

The Not So Obvious – Should Seattle "surprise" and turn on the Husky rain machine, the Trojans have a 19-21-2 record when the drops fall.

The Obvious – Husky Stadium is one of the loudest venues in the country, and ABC television loves to show those boats coming in off the lake.

The Not So Obvious – The truth be told, Husky Stadium (72,500) is one of the worst places to watch a game. There is a track around the field so you are far away from the action, and if you sit in the upper levels, vertigo is the order of the day. Take away the overdone lake shots, and this place is an airport.

The Obvious – Sam Cunningham is one of many Trojan running back legends, and Sam has returned like many former SC superstars as a regular at Trojan games.

The Not So Obvious – Sam Cunningham will also play on Saturday for the Huskies. Say what? Yep, Husky defensive back Sam Cunningham will face the Trojans. This Sam played his high school ball at local Westchester High near LAX.

The Obvious – Saturday's game may get down to which team's Williams has a better wide receiver day.

The Not So Obvious – In the Trojans' sophomore Mike Williams and the Huskies' junior Reggie Williams, two future Sunday players will again compete. Last year in the Coliseum, SC's Mike Williams had nine receptions for 159 yards and three scores, while UW's Reggie Williams had seven catches for 134 and one fourth quarter scoring reception. Both are friends off the field as they have spoken to each other earlier this week in friendly jab.

The Obvious – Many feel that his will be Reggie Williams' last season with UW as he takes up an NFL calling.

The Not So Obvious – Born in Laadstuhl, Germany, Williams should have little trouble adjusting to life in the NFL, the kid is a psychology pre-major. Those receivers love to play those mind games.

The Obvious – "Former" Trojan quarterback Matt Cassel worked out this week at tight end, something that may be a blessing in disguise for both Matt and his team.

The Not So Obvious – Matt Cassel did not make the move to tight end because he felt he couldn't compete at quarterback. That's not the kid's nature. Cassel probably made the switch when he became aware the Trojans might be only taking three quarterbacks and the thought of coming this far and not making the traveling squad at this point of his Trojan career was probably more than he could take. Let's just say that Cassel was given an offer he couldn't refuse.

The Obvious – The Trojans pulled a double-switch with the return of sophomores William Buchanon from DB to WR and Justin Wyatt from WR to DB.

The Not So Obvious – This was an interesting switch before the Washington game. Both players appeared to have welcomed the move. The move is especially notable in Wyatt's case since he was one of the big stars on offense during spring ball. In fact, he had a spectacular punt return at the spring game in the Coliseum.

The Obvious – USC kicker Ryan Killeen had a rather quiet but effective outing in South Bend, but his services may be in great request come Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – The Huskies lost both kickers from a year ago, and kicker Garth Erickson has a slight hamstring pull and is questionable.

The Obvious – Trojan nose tackle Mike Patterson leads Pac-10 linemen in tackles (34), sacks (5), and tackles for losses (10).

The Not So Obvious – Is it too early to consider Mike Patterson, the former Los Alamitos High star, the top candidate for Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year? Not bad for a guy who is six-feet at best.

The Obvious – It seems like it is always difficult to get tickets for the UW game in Seattle, especially when it is a big game like this weekend.

The Not So Obvious – According to the UW ticket department, the Trojans returned some of their allotment and there are still some ducats available. For those interested in tickets for Saturday's game, call 206-543-2200.

The Obvious – One of the great coaching legends at UW is Jim Owens, who led UW to three Rose Bowls, two of which were victories.

The Not So Obvious – Like last week at Notre Dame, the Trojans again must face a school that is honoring one of its own. Jim Owens will be honored with a permanent spot in front of Husky Stadium with a statue that will reside on the west side of the Stadium.

The Obvious – Out of need, the Huskies' defense under Phil Snow, the former UCLA scapegoat, has shuffled their defensive line by starting redshirt freshman Donny Mateaki (6-5, 265) at tackle and moving standout Terry Johnson (6-4, 285) from tackle to defensive end.

The Not So Obvious – Mateaki was a highly-recruited talent from Iolani School in Honolulu, and the move proved to be very profitable for the Husky line in their upset of Oregon State last weekend.

The Obvious – The Trojans' running back coach is Kennedy Pola, who played at USC after a standout career at Mater Dei High in Orange County.

The Not So Obvious –The Huskies' running back coach is Chuck Heater, who was a running back for Big Bad Bo at Michigan in the mid-seventies.

The Obvious – Former Trojan All-American quarterback Paul McDonald is the color commentator for the USC radio broadcasts on 1540.

The Not So Obvious –Former Husky legendary quarterback Sonny Sixkiller handles the color for the UW radio broadcasts.

The Obvious – Cory Paus was an oft-injured and controversial quarterback for the UCLA Bruins during his career.

The Not So Obvious – UW back-up quarterback is Casey Paus, the brother of UCLA Cory.

The Obvious – A big question mark for the Trojans on Saturday is the availability of linebacker Matt Grootogoed, who is still battling the injury bug.

The Not So Obvious – The kid will probably play, but who knows for how long. In the big picture, should the Trojans not need him, it figures he will be saved for the Washington State biggie the following Saturday.

The Obvious – As usual, ABC will provide the visuals at 12:30 p.m. with Mr. Keith, the Foutsmeister., and that BYU Todd fellow on the sidelines.

The Not So Obvious – Other tube toppers for those with a lust of Pac-10 interest will find shaken Oregon State at foreboding Washington State, and resuscitating Arizona State at QB controversy UCLA (7:00 p.m., FSN).

The Obvious – So the Trojans end their traveling road show in Seattle this weekend and a victory would mean Pete Carroll's favorite month, November, upon us. And we all know what Mr. November's record is. Pretty good.

The Not So Obvious – Winning in November has been a Carroll trademark in his brief three years at the Trojan helm. However, a loss in late October to Washington will turn Carroll's favorite calender month into a thirteenth month……. Sleepless in Seattle.

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