The USC Trojans whipped Washington 26-13, keeping their hopes of a Pac-12 title alive.

Make no mistake about it: this was a huge win for Clay Helton’s squad. After all, Washington entered this game ranked fourth in the latest College Football Playoff standings. It was also one of the most complete teams in the country, ranking in the top 11 nationally in yards per play on both offense (3rd) and defense (11th).

None of those numbers mattered on Saturday evening. The Trojan defense dominated this contest from the opening whistle. The SC front seven controlled the line of scrimmage all night long, holding the Husky ground game to just 17 yards on 27 carries. The pass rush was just as spectacular, sacking Jake Browning three times, pressuring him on a number of others, and forcing him to throw the ball before he was ready. With Browning running for his life on virtually every pass attempt, he completed less than 50% of his passes for the first time in his collegiate career. As a result, Washington finished the evening with a season-low 276 yards of total offense.

While not as outstanding as the defense, USC’s offense turned in a solid performance as well. Sam Darnold had no trouble throwing the ball against the Husky secondary, completing 23 of 33 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. The offense also did an excellent job of keeping drives alive, converting 7 of 13 third down opportunities.

With the victory over Washington, the Trojans kept their hopes of winning the Pac-12 title alive. Sure, they’ll need for both Colorado and Utah to lose in order to win the division outright, but given the number of quality teams in the league, that doesn’t seem as impossible as it did earlier in the year, when the team limped to a 1-3 start.

Regardless of whether USC wins the division or not, it proved that it’s the best team in the Pac-12 right now. The Trojans went on the road and beat a top five opponent in every facet of the game.

There aren’t very many teams in the country that can say that.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.