In the first round of the playoff committee rankings Texas A&M was ranked 4th. The Aggies promptly lost a few days later. The Washington Huskies were able to slip into the number 4 spot the following Tuesday, a few days later the 4th ranked team in the nation would lose. The number 2 team in the nation Clemson had lost just before USC kicked off. Shortly before that upset, #9 Auburn had been knocked off by Georgia. Sixth ranked Louiseville was also trailing by the time USC was scheduled to start. Upsets were in the air as the 20th-ranked USC Trojans ventured north to Seattle to try and defeat the red hot Washington Huskies.
The Huskies were averaging about 48 points per game heading into Saturday night’s showdown with the Trojans. The USC defense held tough in the early going forcing a punt, a field goal, and an interception by Adoree’ Jackson on Washington’s first three drives.
When the Trojans went on offense it was clear that the Huskies defense had trouble getting to Sam Darnold who bought time with his legs and moved the offense through the air. The Trojans rushing game struggled, however, and it was clear that USC would need to use the pass to try and open up the run.
Coming off the Adoree’ Jackson interception, with the game tied at 3 early in the second quarter Darnold led the Trojans’ offense down the field and capped the drive off with a touchdown to Darreus Rogers. Washington would respond with another field goal of their own making the score 10-6 with just under 3 minutes left to go in the half. Darnold once again moved the ball through the air with relative ease on another great drive capped off with a 4-yard touchdown run by Ronald Jones II.
USC went in to halftime with a 17-6 lead and a quiet Seattle crowd. With the exception of a few penalties and an early interception by Sam Darnold the first 30 minutes could not have gone much better for the Trojans.
The USC offense could not pick up where they left off, however, as their first two drives stalled. When the Huskies took their second possession of the half they made quick work of it. On the second play of the drive John Ross juked Adoree’ Jackson and got wide open. Washington QB Jake Browning was able to easily hit Ross for for a 70-yard touchdown. The Huskies had closed the gap to 17-13 and the rowdy Seattle crowd was also back in the game.
Following the Washington touchdown USC went back to work on offense but it would be short work as Darnold attempted to hit Darreus Rogers on the second play of the drive. Rogers unfortunately fell down mid route allowing for an easy interception at the USC 33. All of the momentum was now on Washington’s side and if you could feel the Trojans sinking in quicksand the Trojans defense could not, and neither could their special teams.
Despite Washington being just 33 yards away from taking the lead the Trojans defense dug in deep and absolutely refused to allow the Huskies to find the end zone. Save for a blown assignment on the touchdown Clacny Pendergast and company had absolutely dominated the game. The USC defense forced the field goal attempt. Jack Jones blocked the field goal, Adoree’ Jackson would scoop it up and return it to the USC 40 yard line.
Sam Darnold would go right back to work with the USC offense mixing short runs and long passes working the ball down to the Washington 9 at the end of the 3rd quarter. To start the 4th quarter Darnold used his legs to cross the goal line for what would have been a huge touchdown. Unfortunately Damien Mama was flagged with a hands to the face penalty pushing USC back to the 24. On first and goal Darnold hit Rogers for 17 yards. On Second and goal Justin Davis lost a yard on a run. On third and goal Darnold found Daniel Imatorbhebhe in the back of the end zone. The Trojans led 24-13 with 13:33 left in the 4th quarter.
A quick check of other scores revealed 3rd ranked Michigan trailing Iowa by one in the third quarter. With Clemson having already lost and USC leading by 11 could the 2nd, third, and 4th ranked teams all lose on the same day?
Both USC and Washington had drives that amounted to very little and with under 7 minutes left USC found themselves pinned deep in their own territory on 3rd and 4. Sam Darnold threw to the outside to Darreus Rogers for a brief moment the pass looked like a certain pick six. Rogers was able to shake off the tight coverage, make the catch and run the ball all the way out to mid field. Defensive pass interference was also called on the play but it was declined. The Trojans would try to burn as much clock as possible and maybe even point some points on the board. The Trojans however were stopped and had to punt the ball away.
Jake Browning and the normally electric Washington offense would take over inside their own 20 needing 2 scores with just under 5 minutes left to do it. Adoree’ Jackson had other ideas. USC got pressure on Browning like they had for most of the night. Browning threw across his body and it was short. Jackson picked up his second interception of the night. It was a clutch one as the Trojans had the ball on the Washington 35 with about 4 minutes to play.
USC would grind the ball down to the Washington 12 where they would turn it over on downs. The Trojans may not have picked up any points on the drive but they did burn off over 2 minutes of clock. The Huskies had just 1:49 to score 11 points. When Browning fell down at his own 5 yard line after desperately trying to get away from multiple rushers the game felt all but over. It was 3rd and 31 with 1:03 left in the game and Washington had no more time outs. The next play the USC defensive line picked up the safety.
With 58 seconds left and Washington forced to kick the Trojans took the knees and secured the 26-13 upset.
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