LOS ANGELES-This was personal for the University of Washington football team. Beating USC wasn’t about luck. It felt more like a vindication. The Huskies brought with them a healthy dose of swag and a whole scoop of nerve to take down the mighty Trojans. The Huskies actually had the audacity to think they could walk into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as heavy underdogs to USC and turn the Pac-12 Conference South Division apple cart upside down.
That was established right after the opening drive.
“That set the tone in that we won’t back down,” Washington linebacker Keishawn Bierra said. “We might bend but we won’t break. You can’t shut us up. We’re always going to be there.”
Well, the Huskies had the gall to do just that, pulling off a stunning 17-12 upset win against the Trojans. Not only did the Huskies tip the apple cart over for the Trojans, they kicked it all the way over with their surprise victory. The aftermath of that defeat has already taken indirect affect on the team. USC announced Sunday that head coach Steve Sarkisian is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team.
Not too many people saw Washington’s takedown of the No. 17 team in the country coming. USC sure as heck didn’t see it coming. The Trojans weren’t expecting quarterback Cody Kessler-their Heisman Trophy candidate-to complete only 16 of 29 passes for a buck 56.
They weren’t expecting their biggest playmakers (JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree Jackson) to get squeezed into a quiet night. As a team, the Trojans didn’t expect to rush for nearly 200 yards, and still come up with just 12 points. They didn’t expect to score just two field goals through the first three quarters of play.
This is USC. Expectations run high. Excellence comes with being part of the storied football program. The Washington defensive unit couldn’t give a hoot about that tradition. They certainly played like it against the Trojans, beating Sarkisian, who led the Huskies program for five years, in an emotionally-charged game.
“Our motivation was just being ourselves, ” Washington defensive back Budda Baker said. “A lot of guys came from Sark(isian) and everything. We weren’t really worried about that. We were just thinking on (level) that it iy a game. We play USC, so we had to come together to get the win.
The tone was set on the game’s first series when the Huskies picked off Kessler with an interception.
“That set a tone, the first drive of the game, got an interception and gave an opportunity for opportunity to score or get a field goal,” Baker added.
Washington’s defense then played the rest of the game like they wanted to smack somebody around in holding USC to its lowest offensive scoring output for the season. The Huskies played with a big chip sitting on their shoulders daring the Trojans to knock it off.
It may have to do with the fact that Sarkisian recruited many of the current players on Washington’s roster before he left the building to take the USC head coaching spot. Whatever the reason, the Huskies, competing in the Pac-12 Conference North Division, were in full shutdown mode.
The quick-hitter, big-play USC likes to utilize regularly was none and void against the Huskies. This was not supposed to happen. Washington changed that hypothetical into reality TV for the Trojans. You can’t measure heart. You can’t supplement guts. You can’t implement will. You either have them or don’t.
The Washington football team brought all three attributes with them in their win against USC. The Huskies were viewed pretty much as afterthoughts coming into the USC game.
Thanks to their upset victory, Washington’s imprint is now all over the Trojan’s season. That hope for a national run has been effectively canceled. USC’s aspirations of claiming the Pac-12 Conference South Division title, is dangling by a thread. The Trojans no longer have room for error.
They pretty much have to run the table in order to have a say about anything they do in the postseason, if they get that far. In one word this loss means one thing for the Trojans: trouble. USC can still salvage their season. There is plenty of football to be played. There a lot of people predicting doomsday scenarios for the Trojans after their disappointing effort against Washington. Losing to Stanford is one thing.
Dropping a contest to Washington at home is something else. Now Notre Dame, Utah, Arizona, Oregon and UCLA loom on the horizon.
Dennis is editor and publisher of News4usonline. A news and sports reporter, Dennis has written about civil rights, education, government, crime, and social justice. Dennis covers the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NCAA. He is a graduate of Howard University. HU!!