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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 9 PRIMER / THE LOCALS

WASHINGTON (5-2, 3-1) at USC (5-3, 3-2)

October 30, 1998|ROBYN NORWOOD

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Coliseum, Channel 7.

* Story line: This game is crucial for the Trojans and Paul Hackett's first season as coach after USC let a couple get away against California and Oregon. With both teams vying for position in the group behind UCLA, it's also a key game in the Pacific 10 standings.

* USC update: With a victory, the Trojans can start planning to nail down a bowl trip next week against Stanford and not worry so much about the season turning sour. Backup quarterback Carson Palmer played more than half the last two games behind starter Mike Van Raaphorst. One player USC wants to see more of: R. Jay Soward, held to three catches and a 10-yard kickoff return against Oregon.

* Washington update: The Huskies are down a bit but haven't lost to USC since 1994. Quarterback Brock Huard returned last week in a narrow victory over Oregon State after sitting out two games because of a shoulder injury. But backup Marques Tuiasosopo will still play-- especially because he's the leading rusher on a team hurt because of injuries at running back. USC's big concern is the Huskies' pass rush. They lead the Pac-10 in sacks with 43 and have had two 13-sack games.

* Edge to USC: It's tough to call, but USC gets the edge at home.

* Line: USC by 6.

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