SEATTLE (AP) -It's been a rare occurrence in recent seasons when Washington has been a target of revenge.
That's clearly the case this week as the Huskies return from their bye and head to No. 18 Southern California.
"I'm first flattered that they think that much about us,'' Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I'm sure there are a couple of other teams on their schedule that they circled too from last year. To me this is the Pac-10 opener and why we play the year and what we are striving for. It's a tremendous challenge.''
Soon after the Trojans finished their rout of Washington State last Saturday, players and coach Lane Kiffin freely admitted they've been looking forward to the fifth week of the season and another shot at the Huskies.
It was a year ago that Washington started chipping away at some of the USC mystique. The Huskies upset the then-No. 3 Trojans in Seattle 16-13, a victory that started the downfall of USC to a 9-4 record last season, and validated many of the changes Sarkisian implemented when he took over at Washington.
Washington's win over USC last season was one of two wins over ranked teams in Sarkisian's first season. Before that, Washington had not defeated a ranked opponent since the beginning of the 2007 season, when the Huskies beat Boise State.
The current Huskies would like to get back to a day when others are seeking a little payback.
"That's nice to hear. I think we're working on trying to get that more. I think every team likes to hear that because I guess it just let's you know that for a while or an entire year you've had the upper hand on them,'' Washington safety Nate Williams said. "Obviously we do because we really came out last year, we worked our tails off and played them really tough last year and I think we're going to do the same exact thing this year.''
The matchup with USC comes after a needed bye week for the Huskies, to work on their psyche as much as anything on the field. Washington was humbled and embarrassed after its 56-21 loss to Nebraska, an afternoon when many of Washington's flaws were exposed and Jake Locker went tumbling out of any Heisman conversation.
Locker went just 4 of 20 for 71 yards against the Cornhuskers, the worst statistical game of his career. Locker demanded to practice the Monday after the loss - typically an off day for the starting quarterback during a bye week - and focused primarily on his footwork.
"I think it will make me better going forward. It wasn't anywhere near where I wanted to play individually and where we wanted to play as a football team,'' Locker said. "Learning how to put that behind you and have a good productive week of practice and coming out this week and having another and preparing for a very good USC football team is really important in your growth.''
One player who will be new to the Huskies is USC quarterback Matt Barkley. Last year, Barkley did not play in Seattle, forced to watch the upset from the sideline with a sore shoulder.
But Sarkisian knows Barkley well. As the offensive coordinator at USC before coming to Washington, Sarkisian was a major player in recruiting Barkley to USC.
"He's a really good pocket passer. He likes to use all of his receivers and all of his options. If his long option isn't there he'll check it down to one of his running backs,'' Williams said. "We just have to stay in our coverages and lock up.''
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