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Washington 17, USC 12 Instant Analysis

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1. Washington’s defense showed up

With five sacks, three takeaways, and key stop after key stop, the Washington defense proved that being really young doesn’t matter. The coaching staff turned the defensive front loose, and the result was a dominant performance that never let the Trojan skill guys get free. Converting just one of 13 third down chances, the USC offense was never in any sort of a rhythm, even though the running game worked. Tre Madden averaged over seven yards per pop, and Ronald Jones II averaged over eight yards per carry, but the big runs were negated by the great Husky pass rush. That meant …

2. Cody Kessler had a miserable night

It wasn’t totally his fault. Not having center Max Tuerk (knee) was a problem, and he was under pressure all game long, but he also made some poor throws and mistakes along the way. That was the goal and the storyline for UW – get in Kessler’s face, and make him hurry. The 156-yard, two interception day understated the biggest overall problem for USC – it’s been beaten up in the two losses to Stanford and Washington. The two teams from the North were more physical, they attacked more, and the Trojans couldn’t adjust. Kessler is as good as any quarterback in the country when he gets time to set up and fire. The Huskies didn’t give him that luxury.

3. Steve Sarkisian Hot Seat Watch is going to be on, because …

In the year of the Can’t Lose, you can’t lose a game if you’re a big-time head coach, especially if your team is expected to be in the national title hunt. Chris Petersen outcoached Steve Sarkisian, and Washington looked better prepared, more energetic and were more effective.

Now, with a 1-2 Pac-12 start, there’s absolutely no margin for error the rest of the way for the Trojans or else the season will be over along with the playoff chances. However, USC’s two losses came against the North – it doesn’t really matter in terms of their Pac-12 chances. Utah’s going to lose at some point, Arizona State’s going to lose again, and everyone else in the South has a loss already, so if USC wins out, it’s going to the Pac-12 championship. Of course, USC doesn’t look remotely like a team ready to do that. With Notre Dame and Utah up next, a road game at Oregon, and a date against UCLA still to deal with, this won’t be a fun few weeks for Sarkisian.

MORE: Pac-12 Football Picks For Week 6

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