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October 12, 2012

Five to Watch: USC

The Huskies should feel very optimistic about their chances with another ranked opponent this weekend.

Last season USC smoked the Huskies 40-17 in Los Angeles, but the previous two seasons were quite different. In 2010 the Huskies took out No.18 USC 32-31 in a thrilling game down in southern California, and in 2009 the Huskies (fresh off of a winless season) shocked No. 3-ranked USC with a game winning field goal as time expired. So with the Huskies looking to upset this years number 11 USC, here are five players to keep an eye on if the Huskies want to complete their three game stretch against ranked conference opponents going 2-1.

1. Matt Barkley, QB

Perhaps the most well known name on USC's roster, Matt Barkley has been around for four years as the Trojans quarterback. This season, Barkley has completed close to 65% of his passes and has thrown for 15 touchdowns. He's the leader of the team, knows the Trojans are held to higher standards than most college football programs, but as of this year he hasn't been able to pull off the stellar performances desired. Barkley has thrown five interceptions on the year, USC has seemed mediocre at times against teams like Syracuse and Utah, and they proved to be highly over ranked after losing to the Cardinal (the only Pac-12 team Barkley has never beaten in is four years at USC). As long as the Trojans don't jump out to an early start, expect Barkley to once again feel the pressure to carry the Trojan faithful on his back.

2. Silas Redd, RB

Silas Redd is quite easily the favorite back when the Trojans decide to keep things on the ground. Redd has carried the ball 75 times for 415 yards, and has scored five touchdowns on the year. Aside from Redd, NOBODY else has scored a rushing touchdown for the Trojans. This trend is bound to end at some point, but if USC finds themselves in the red zone, the Huskies can safely bet on Redd getting the hand off if anyone.

3Marqise Lee, WR

As the run game has only accounted for five touchdowns compared to USC's 15 touchdowns in the air, Inglewood's Marqise Lee most notably accounts for 7 of those 15 touchdowns. He appears to be Barkley's favorite target, and seems how he has hauled in nearly half of all the passing touchdowns, Lee could cause some trouble for the Dawgs' secondary. Lee is a great momentum boost for the Trojans too, as he averages 12.5 yards per reception and has even broken off an 83 yard TD as well. The Huskies will have to work hard to contain Lee if they want to stifle any chances of the Trojans building momentum.

4. Morgan Breslin, DL

Morgan Breslin leads the Trojans defense with 5.5 sacks, and has tallied 10.5 tackles for loss of yards (58 yards lost total). He has 24 tackles to date, and will be hungry to go up against a less than full strength Husky offensive line. Once again, the Huskies will need to find away to create offense despite being beat up on that side of the ball, and holding ground against Breslin will be a major part of being able to do so.

5. Dion Bailey, LB

The second leading tackler on the roster with 35, and the man with the most interceptions at three, sophomore linebacker Dion Bailey is all over the field. With the Huskies still searching for offensive consistency, Bailey could act as an unwanted headache. The Dawgs' performance against Oregon was riddled with mistakes, and the Ducks capitalized nearly every time, so the Huskies will need to strive for a more error free performance, or else Bailey could have a heyday.

Over the past few seasons, the Huskies have shown the ability to pull off upsets at home (not quite as frequently on the road though). Having beaten Stanford already this year, and with their recent success pulling out nail biting wins against USC both home and away, don't be surprised if the Dawgs play a tight game against the Trojans again this year.


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