Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/12/12
College football is heading toward the halfway point of the 2012 season, as most teams should have discovered their identity and begin to separate themselves from the competition within their own conference.This week, the USC Trojans (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) and the Washington Huskies (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) are two schools still searching for their true identity, and the winner of this contest will have a clearer path to gaining a postseason bowl bid.Here are three bold predictions for USC at Washington:This Will Be Matt Barkley’s Breakout GameUSC quarterback Matt Barkley hasn’t looked sharp all year, as loud whispers suggest his shoulder is still tender from a hit sustained in a loss to Stanford earlier this season. Against the University of Washington, Barkley must throw the ball deep and challenge the Huskies secondary downfield.He has done a splendid job of getting the football to his two talented wide receivers (Marquise Lee and Robert Woods) all season, but Barkley must get everyone involved in the passing game and force the Huskies to defend all of their offensive weapons. It’s just too difficult of a taskOffensively, the Trojans have taken too long to move the football at the start of games; Barkley must be conscious of this and command a faster pace from his teammates in the first couple of offensive series.Huskies Home CookingThe Washington Huskies have played some of their best football in the confines of their own home this season. The first commandment of any home underdog is to put yourself ahead early in the contest and get the crowd involved. The Huskie fan-base is extremely loud and raucous.It’s imperative for the Huskies offense to score touchdowns and put USC behind the eight ball immediately at the start of the game. More importantly, their offense must be balanced enough for all four quarters to force the Trojans defense to gambling more and become blitz-happy in their approach. The Huskies offense has trouble scoring points, so they cannot get into a shoot-out with USC.Remember, Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian is 3-1 lifetime against the Trojans.The Trojans Running Game Must Come AliveOverall, the USC offense has so many weapons, but the running game has been the sore spot all season. The heralded duo of Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal have struggled to live up to the preseason hype, but they must have a big game if the Trojans have any shot of winning.If USC can effectively run the football, then this should open the middle of the field for their passing game and effectively silence the raucous crowd. This added dimension will make the Trojans harder to defend against.
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