Steve Sarkisian coaches against his former team for the first time on Thursday when No. 17 USC hosts Washington in Pac-12 play. Sarkisian spent five seasons as coach of the Huskies before departing after the 2013 season and the Huskies replaced him with Chris Petersen, who hotly pursued the Trojans’ gig but reportedly was underwhelming during the interview process.
Petersen, who went from Boise State to Washington, is still putting his stamp on the Huskies program during his second season as coach. Freshman quarterback Jake Browning has walked on campus and thrown for 996 yards and five touchdowns in four games as Washington looks toward the future. Sarkisian’s goal is reaching the Pac-12 title game and he claims there is nothing special about coaching against the Huskies for the initial time. “I respect those kids a lot,” Sarkisian told reporters. “We recruited them and got them to come to Seattle with the best interests at heart to go out and be successful. It’s going to be fun to compete against them. I know they’re going to be ready to go. I wouldn’t expect anything less of them.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: The line hasn’t moved from its opening number of USC -17. The total also has held steady at its opening number of 56.
Washington – DB B. Baker (questionable Thursday, ankle), CB A. Joyner (out for season, knee), WR J. Ross (out for season, knee).
USC – DT A. Woods (probable Thursday, shoulder), CB K. Seymour (probable Thursday, knee), WR J. Smith (probable Thursday, personal), DT C. Pelon (questionable Thursday, ankle), G K. Rodgers (questionable Thursday, personal), WR D. Rogers (doubtful Thursday, hamstring).
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a beautiful night for football at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It is expected to be a clear night with temperatures in the low 80’s at gametime, with a very slight two mile per hour wind blowing towards the East endzone.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Cody Kessler has thrown for 1297 yards with 15 TDs and just one pick. He’s having a Heisman caliber season, and the Trojans are still a contender after a big road win over the Sun Devils.” – Covers Expert Jesse Schule.
ABOUT WASHINGTON (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12): The Huskies have been stellar on defense and lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense (15.8), total defense (321.0 yards per game) and rushing defense (104.5). Junior cornerback Kevin King has a team-high three interceptions and sophomore linebacker Azeem Victor has a team-best 38 tackles. Freshman running back Myles Gaskin (209 yards) and junior Dwayne Washington (138) split the rushing duties while Washington also leads the Huskies with 17 receptions and 223 receiving yards.
ABOUT USC (3-1, 1-1): Senior quarterback Cody Kessler has been spectacular through four games by completing 73 percent of his passes for 1,297 yards, 15 touchdowns and just one interception. Freshman Ronald Jones II (242 yards) and senior Tre Madden (213) are the top two rushers while standout sophomore wideout Juju Smith-Schuster has hauled in 27 receptions for 537 yards and six touchdowns. Freshman inside linebacker Cameron Smith has a team-leading 30 tackles while junior outside linebacker Su’a Cravens has 27 tackles — including four for losses — and one interception.
* Under is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings.
* Home team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Washington is 4-1 ATS in their last five road games.
* Over is 4-1 in USC’s last five home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is almost dead split in this matchup, with 51.47 percent of wagers giving the Trojans a very slight edge.