Sam Darnold Leads USC to 26-13 Upset of No. 4 Washington
SEATTLE (AP) — Sam Darnold threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns and Southern California upset No. 4 Washington 26-13 on Saturday night, snapping the Huskies' 12-game winning streak and damaging their College Football Playoff hopes.
Darnold was outstanding against one of the top defenses in the Pac-12, showing why USC has surged since he became the starter. Darnold's lofted pass over linebacker D.J. Beavers and into the arms of tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe for an 8-yard touchdown strike in the opening moments of the fourth quarter gave USC an 11-point lead that Washington (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12, No. 4 CFP) couldn't overcome.
Ronald Jones II added 93 yards rushing and a touchdown. USC (7-3, 6-2, No. 20 CFP) won its sixth straight and should get back into the AP Top 25 . The Trojans also kept alive their slim hopes of winning the Pac-12 South.
Washington coach Chris Petersen cautioned all week that USC was back to looking like the most talented team in the Pac-12 and he was proved correct. Darnold flustered Washington's defense by keeping plays alive with his feet and found gaps in the Huskies secondary that have been difficult for others to find.
Darreus Rogers had six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown, while Imatorbhebhe added five catches for 78 yards. Washington lost starting middle linebacker Azeem Victor in the second quarter to a lower right leg injury that required an air cast and a cart to take the Huskies' leading tackler off the field. But his absence was felt more in the pass game where USC exploited the middle of the field.
Washington quarterback Jake Browning was 17 of 36 for 259 yards, including a 70-yard TD pass to John Ross where he shook USC's Adoree' Jackson at the line of scrimmage. Ross finished with eight catches for 154 yards, but the Huskies were held to 17 yards rushing after coming into the week as the Pac-12 leader averaging 231 yards per game.
When USC went ahead 10-3 on Rogers' 13-yard TD catch it was the first time Washington trailed at home since the first quarter of last November's Apple Cup against Washington State. The 17-6 halftime lead for the Trojans marked Washington's first halftime deficit in more than a calendar year. The Huskies last trailed at the break on Nov. 7, 2015 against Utah, a game they lost 34-23.
It was the drive just before halftime that put USC in control. Taking over at the 18 with 2:27 left in the half, Darnold completed 4 of 7 passes for 75 yards and capped the drive with Jones' 4-yard TD run and an 11-point lead at the break.
USC also got a huge play from Jack Jones in the third quarter blocking Cameron Van Winkle's 38-yard field goal attempt after Darnold was intercepted for a second time by Washington's Taylor Rapp.
USC: Jackson didn't have the best night, especially when he was matched up in coverage on Ross. But he came up with two key interceptions, both times using his quickness to break in front of the receivers and grab Browning's pass.
Washington: The big plays that have been part of Washington's success all season were absent. Aside from Ross' long touchdown catch-and-run, and a 23-yard catch by Ross on Washington's first offensive play, the Huskies had only one other play of longer than 20 yards — a 28-yard pass to Chico McClatcher in the fourth quarter.
Washington lost Victor to a lower right leg injury early in the second quarter. Victor's injury was another blow to Washington's defense that is likely to be without defensive end and sack leader Joe Mathis for the rest of the season due to foot surgery.
USC: The Trojans travel across town next Saturday to face rival UCLA at the Rose Bowl.
Washington: The Huskies close out their home schedule hosting Arizona State.