O/NSO - Washington preview

Like a nationally acclaimed Broadway musical, the No.1-ranked USC Trojans (6-0, 3-0) conclude a highly successful three-week Coliseum engagement with a Saturday afternoon Pac-10 matinee against the understudy Washington Huskies (1-5, 0-3), a program that once provided the Trojans with some of their greatest challenges.

The Obvious – Like a nationally acclaimed Broadway musical, the No.1-ranked USC Trojans (6-0, 3-0) conclude a highly successful three-week Coliseum engagement with a Saturday afternoon Pac-10 matinee against the understudy Washington Huskies (1-5, 0-3), a program that once provided the Trojans with some of their greatest challenges.

The Not So Obvious – While these are not your father's Washington Huskies, these are still proud Seattle athletes that will be coming to the Coliseum in an attempt to save their season. Of course, it won't help the Husky cause when the Trojan team sees that ADT National Championship Trophy being displayed on the Coliseum turf come Saturday afternoon.

The Obvious – The Trojans are now averaging 88,850 at home with three home games remaining.

The Not So Obvious – With an increase of over 11,000 fans from last year's attendance record, the most intriguing question about Saturday's game IS attendance. With back-to-back sellouts, just how much star power do the Trojans have in star-studded LA with the last place Huskies coming to town? The expectations are for 78, 000 and with the "Westwood" school at Arizona State, it will be interesting to see just how many local non-committed college football fans will be at the Coliseum.

The Obvious – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Trojans are a 35 1/2- point favorite to send the Purple and Gold back to the Emerald City with their tails between their legs.

The Not So Obvious – It figures that when SC scores 35.7 per game and the Huskies score 16.3 per outing, it makes for a large spread. For the Trojans, the season gets down not to opponents but to goals and intense practices. With Troy firmly entrenched at the top of Monday's BCS poll, Carroll's lads can see some light at the end of the tunnel, and it's a neon sign that reads Miami. There will be no letdown and certainly not with the Trojans in firm control of their destiny.

The Obvious – It has been a long time since the Trojans were such a huge favorite to beat such a proud program as the Washington Huskies.

The Not So Obvious – This is the largest point underdog for the Huskies since 1975 when the Purple and Gold were 28-point dogs to Alabama in Don James first year at Washington. Bama won the game 52-0.

The Obvious – The weather forecast for Saturday's 3:30 p.m. (PDT) is 71 degrees and sunny.

The Not So Obvious – The real forecast is whether another week of practice with Reggie Bush learning the nuances of wide receiver and tight end Dominique Byrd getting in better condition, just how much better will the Trojans' offense look compared to last week against Arizona State? There will also be the challenge of defending the speed-option offense of UW, but this Husky team is so banged up, they would need legendary QB Warren Moon, former All-American DT Steve Emtman, DB Lawyer Milloy, and LB immortal Rick Redman to hang with the Cardinal and Gold.

The Obvious – The Huskies suffered one of their most humiliating losses last weekend as Oregon State broke a 19-year Seattle losing streak by winning for the first time, 29-14, since 1985.

The Not So Obvious – Beavers' freshman kicker Alex Serna, the poor soul who blew a field goal in the almost upset at LSU, nailed five field goals. The Huskies turned the ball over seven times in the Oregon State loss. Two of the turnovers were on the Beavers' 1-yard line. Husky fans were on suicide watch near the Space Needle.

The Obvious – Saturday's game with the Huskies will be televised by Fox Sports Net at 3:30 p.m. with Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis.

The Not So Obvious – This will be the Trojans first chance to be analyzed on national television by Papadakis, the former Trojan running back. Should you find the game results to your Trojan liking, you can catch a UW Fox replay on Fox Northwest on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. with Jim Watson, former Los Angeles local Fox Sports West voice and USC alum, and Husky legendary quarterback Sonny Sixkiller providing the color.

The Obvious – Should the Trojans defeat the Huskies on Saturday, it would assure Washington their first losing season since 1976.

The Not So Obvious – Washington coach Keith Gilbertson has a 0-5 record against the Trojans, with four of those losses as Cal's head coach. Gilbertson knows Saturday is going to be a tough challenge. The Husky mentor said, " They (USC) function at an unbelievably efficient rate and do a lot of things with people that are multi-talented. They probably have the best line in the country and Reggie Bush."

The Obvious – The Huskies have tried three different quarterbacks and none has really set the world on fire, although sophomore Isaiah Stanback showed some skills last week in a tough loss to Oregon State.

The Not So Obvious – Coach Gilbertson knows moving the ball against SC will be no easy task. " They are very athletic and like we saw against Stanford whey they decided to put the hammer down, that was it," Gilberston said.

The Obvious – Trojans' QB Matt Leinart once again is taking command in the Heisman race, especially after this being named The Sporting News National Player of the Week.

The Not So Obvious – TSN once again has Lefty as No. 1 in the Heisman race. TSN wrote, "Maybe we just expect Leinart to be Mr. Everything. Maybe that's why his fantastic junior season has been, for the most part, overlooked. In three victories against ranked teams (Virginia Tech, Cal, Arizona State), Leinart has thrown for 660 yards and nine touchdowns – with just one interception."

The Obvious – Despite Washington's plight, Leinart will still get his challenge this week as the Huskies have the Pac-10's second best pass defense allowing just 179.2 yards per game.

The Not So Obvious – Regardless of Washington's record and current misfortunes, the Trojans' offensive line will need to do a better job of protecting their southpaw meal ticket. Though showing good progress, the maturing USC line has still given up 12 sacks in six games after last year's veteran unit gave up 16 all of last season.

The Obvious –Gifted UW sophomore QB Isaiah Stanback (6-3, 200), who was once a prime Trojan recruit as an athlete, had an up and down game against Oregon State, but he did have 51 yards rushing and 219 yards passing (11-of-29).

The Not So Obvious – Stanback, who is also an outstanding baseball prospect, isn't afraid of coming to the Coliseum to challenge the top-ranked Trojans. This week he said, "Them (USC) being No. 1 isn't going to intimidate anybody."

The Obvious – UW coach Keith Gilbertson has put in the speed-option to take advantage of Stanback's obvious skills as an exceptionally quick runner and, given time, effective passer.

The Not So Obvious – Of Stanback, who might remind oldtimers of Ohio State quarterback Cornelius Greene, Gilbertson said, "When he has his legs under him, he's liable to go anywhere and some of those plays are going to be outstanding plays and some of them you're going to say, ‘You shouldn't have done that', or Why did you do that, you should have done this."

The Obvious – The Huskies have rushed for 412 yards the last two games.

The Not So Obvious – This will be a challenge for the Trojan linebackers led by Lofa Tatupu, who leads Troy in tackles. Tatupu and his mates will have to be disciplined, as last week, Isaiah Stanback ran the speed-option and one play, a keeper, reversed his field on a dime that would have made option-master Lou Holtz gush.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll says he would like 50 offensive rushes per game, so it should be interesting Saturday to watch Norm Chow's game strategy and see if he is going to emphasize the run against a weak Husky defensive line.

The Not So Obvious – The UW defensive line may have issues, but all three Husky starting linebackers, including Joe Lobendahn (2nd), Evan Benjamin (4th), and Scott White (6th), rank among the top six in the Pac-10 in tackles.

The Obvious – For the most part, the Trojans have avoided season-ending injuries.

The Not So Obvious – You have to have some compassion for the Husky faithful and Coach Gilbertson as they have had 11 surgeries thus far and a possible 12th is in limbo. The Husky defensive line has, at times, started two freshman, and the wide receiver spots are a mess, with speedy senior Charles Frederick doubtful and sophomore Quintin Daniels, the former Loyola Cub prep star, out with a knee suffered in last week's Oregon State loss.

The Obvious – The Trojans have routinely had difficulty covering tight ends this season, as ASU's Zach Miller, a standout true freshman, found openings, as well, last weekend at the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – So here comes Husky tight end and former Trojan recruit Joe Toledo (6-6, 285) from Encinitas and La Costa Canyon High to try his luck. Big Joe is a bit feisty coming into the Coliseum, especially as such a heavy underdog. "That's kind of disrespectful toward us and it probably hasn't happened here in a long time," Toledo seethed.

The Obvious – The Trojans lead the Pac-10 in sacks with 29.

The Not So Obvious – Bad news for Husky QB Stanback who was drilled a number of times last week against Oregon State. Stellar Beaver senior defensive tackle Steve Swancutt almost cut the shifty Husky quarterback in half with one of his two sacks. Trojan DT Shaun Cody, who leads SC with six sacks, will be very difficult to hold off of Stanback since fine Husky offensive tackle and team captain Khalif Barnes is out with a broken wrist.

The Obvious – The Trojans had eight sacks last week against ASU

The Not So Obvious – The Huskie defense has only nine sacks for the entire season.

The Obvious – Trojan tailback LenDale White figures to have a big game this weekend as Reggie Bush lines up at wide receiver and brings all sorts of pain to veteran Husky defensive coordinator Phil Snow, who has bounced around of late from ASU to UCLA to Washington.

The Not So Obvious – They Huskies also have a fine running back of their own in sophomore Kenny James (5-10, 215). James has been used as the trailing back out of the I-formation for Stanback's option runs. Don't be surprised to see James challenge the outstanding trio of Trojan linebackers. James was very effective on the option against Oregon State. James has a long score of 52 yards to his credit this season to go along with five touchdowns.

The Obvious – Trojan defensive tackle Mike Patterson has been getting some "love" from a number of media outlets as the "unsung" hero in the USC defensive line.

The Not So Obvious – This week's Sporting News lists their mid-season All-Americans and Mike is a first-team All-American. Patterson has been very instrumental in helping the Trojans No. 6 national-ranking in points allowed at 12.6 per game.

The Obvious – The Trojans defensive unit includes sophomore Tupula "Travis" Tofi (6-4, 255), who came to USC from American Samoa.

The Not So Obvious – The Huskies welcomed back their own defensive tackle from American Samoa in Mike Mapu (6-3, 260), who now prefers to go with his true last name of Mapuolesega. Both Tofi and Mapuolesega attended Faga'itua High School.

The Obvious – The Trojans' senior defensive tackle Shaun Cody is in line to be selected to a number of post-season honors.

The Not So Obvious – The Huskies have their own version of Cody in senior Manase Hopoi (6-4, 280), a defensive end that the Trojans once recruited out of Sacramento Valley. Hopoi was once a first-team selection out of high school in the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best in the West.

The Obvious – It has been mentioned before that USC has produced a long list of distinguished alumni including musicians Lionel Hampton and Herb Alpert, astronaut Neil Armstrong, directors George Lucas and Ron Howard, actor John Ritter, and producers Robert Zemeckis and David L. Wolper. No, we won't bring up John Wayne again.

The Not So Obvious – The Huskies have their own list of celebs. Perhaps you've heard of actress Dyan Cannon, former Speaker of the House Thomas Foley, cartoonist Hank Ketcham of Dennis the Menace fame, actor Bruce Lee, actress Dawn Wells of Gilligan's Island, and musician Kenny "G" Gorelick.

The Obvious – The Trojans will announce at Saturday's game the new members of the Trojans' Athletic Hall of Fame.

The Not So Obvious – In a poorly kept secret, look for former Trojan running back great and athletic administrator Willie Brown to be one of the chosen.

The Obvious – The Trojans haven't forgotten the "cheap shot" injury that linebacker Matt Grootegoed suffered last year against Stanford.

The Not So Obvious – As if the Huskie haven't suffered enough through injury themselves, starting nose tackle Dan Milsten (6-5, 290) suffered a serious leg injury on a "cheap shot" against Oregon State last weekend. Husky coach Gilbertson was so angry he contacted the Pac-10 for a film review.

The Obvious – With Trojan senior kicker Ryan Killeen making a bit of a comeback in his field goals, it has been overlooked that Killeen now has 23 touchbacks on kickoffs, including one that hit the goal post last weekend against Arizona State.

The Not So Obvious – Although the Huskies have not been a scoring juggernaut, redshirt freshman kicker Michael Braunstein has hit 3-of-5 field goals, and the three have been between the 20-29 yard range.

The Obvious – The Trojans offense has been getting good scoring recently in the first quarter.

The Not So Obvious – The Huskies have been outscored 61-31 in the first quarter this season.

The Obvious – The Trojans list three players from the state of Washington including valuable fullback David Kirtman from Mercer Island.

The Not So Obvious – The Huskies list 20 players hailing from Southern California.

The Obvious – Saturday's Fox telecast will allow Trojan fans to get their real first taste of Petros Papadakis doing a Trojan game on FSN and attempting to be neutral.

The Not So Obvious – If you need a little warm-up before the Trojans' telecast from the Coliseum, there is ABC's broadcast at 12:30 p.m. of the reality-check Bruins at the recovering Sun Devils with Mr. Whoa Nellie.

The Obvious – Listen to current Trojan recruits and they all talk like USC has been No. 1 for years and Pete Carroll is the John McKay for the new century.

The Not So Obvious – It was a little more than a decade ago that the Washington Huskies were the toast of college football under Don James, but the Trojans are back as kingpins with no end in sight. So with some irony, a win by Troy would guarantee the first losing season for Washington since1976. In another matter of irony, facing the No. 1 Trojans on Saturday, it appears it will be the Huskies who may be crying, "Who let the dogs out!!!!!"

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