Penix, No. 5 Huskies face Williams, No. 24 Trojans in Pac-12 Showdown
LOS ANGELES (AP) — No. 5 Washington (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) at No. 24 Southern Cal (7-2, 5-1 No. 20 CFP), Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Line: Washington by 3, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: USC leads 52-30-4.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Pac-12 gauntlet is finally here for the Huskies and the Trojans. Washington has survived two shaky performances following its dramatic win over No. 6 Oregon, getting away with a 42-33 victory at Stanford to provide some leeway to absorb a loss over the final month of the season and still make it to the conference title game in Las Vegas alive to reach the College Football Playoff. USC has no such margin for error to play for a Pac-12 crown, even after escaping with a 50-49 win at California. To salvage Lincoln Riley's second year in Troy, USC will almost certainly need a clean sweep against the Huskies, Ducks and crosstown rival No. 20 UCLA.
Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. vs. USC’s secondary. Penix, who leads the FBS in yards passing (2,945) and is third in touchdown throws (24), will have a primetime national TV audience to strengthen his Heisman Trophy candidacy. He bounced back from his worst game of the season against Arizona State to throw for 369 yards and four touchdowns against Stanford. The Trojans allowed a redshirt freshman to throw for 292 yards and two touchdowns before defensive back Jaylin Smith knocked down a 2-point conversion with 58 seconds remaining in the game against the Golden Bears. USC will have to be opportunistic in creating takeaways and forcing Penix to settle for the occasional field goal, all while hoping its own offense can keep pace.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Washington: WR Ja’Lynn Polk. With Jalen McMillan still dealing with a knee injury, Polk had a monster showing against Stanford by catching five passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. The fourth-year sophomore has three straight 100-yard games and six total this season.
USC: QB Caleb Williams. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner bounced back from two poor performances by throwing for 369 yards and two touchdowns without an interception at Cal and rushing for two more scores. However, Williams did take four more sacks.
FACTS & FIGURES
USC LB Eric Gentry made his mark against Cal, getting an interception, forcing a fumble and making one tackle for loss. ... Washington has had multiple 100-yard receivers in the same game five times this season and seven times since Kalen DeBoer became head coach in 2022. Prior to his tenure, there had been six instances in the previous 105 seasons of Huskies football. … USC RB MarShawn Lloyd is averaging 7.74 yards per carry, the best mark in the FBS by any player getting at least 10 attempts per game. ... This is the eighth time in school history Washington has started 8-0. However, the Huskies lost their ninth game in both 1923 and 1992. ... The Trojans have 13 takeaways (seven fumbles recovered, six interceptions through nine games. They had 28 (19 interceptions, nine fumbles recovered) in 14 games last season.