LOS ANGELES -- Any loss is tough to take for a football team, but there is something particularly gut-wrenching about losing a game on a last-second field goal. A team battles for more than 59 minutes, only to helplessly watch a ball come off the kicker's foot and go sailing through the uprights.
Those kinds of endings don't happen often. Before 2009, the last time the Trojans had lost a game at the end like that was in 2001 against, fittingly, the Washington Huskies.
Given the recent history, it's understandable that the Trojans would like to see that script changed.
"Last year was a game we should have won," USC head coach Lane Kiffin said. "It's tough when you lose a game like that because you have to wait a whole year to get a chance to redeem yourself."
The Trojans almost had a chance to attempt a game-winning field goal two weeks ago against Stanford, but a controversial timing sequence prevented a 50-yard try from freshman kicker Andre Heidari. If a situation like that should present itself Saturday, Heidari said he will definitely be ready.
"It's a kicker's dream to do that for his team," Heidari said. "I've never had a game-winning kick attempt. It would be ironic if it came down to that again this year; hopefully I'm the one putting it through the uprights for the win. That would be an amazing feeling."
USC fans will have a lot of confidence if Heidari is the one trotting out on the field with the game on the line. He is 13-of-15 on field goal attempts this year, and one of those misses came against Notre Dame when he was hobbled with a sore ankle. He has made four of his five attempts from 40 yards and beyond, including a long of 50 yards.
Price is right for Huskies
There was a lot of speculation that the Washington offense would suffer this season without Jake Locker at quarterback, but sophomore Keith Price has stepped in and performed at a very solid level. Price might not offer all the running skills that Locker brought to the table, but Price is very efficient as a thrower, completing 66 percent of his passes with 25 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions.
"It's hard to imitate a guy like Jake Locker, but this guy is a good quarterback too," USC safety T.J. McDonald said of Price. "He can throw the ball, he's mobile and he's thrown a lot of touchdown passes. He doesn't run as much but he can scramble and make plays."
This weekend is homecoming at USC, a time for gathering to reminisce and tell old stories of times gone by. That will be true for USC cornerback Nickell Robey as well, but for a slightly different reason.
Robey will have several family members traveling from Florida not only to see him play but to honor the birthday of his late mother, Maxine Robey, who died of a heart attack only days after Robey signed his letter of intent to attend USC.
"Nickell's mom was a great lady," Kiffin said. "Always smiling, a real caretaker, a mother hen. It had to be very difficult for someone at that age to do what he did, to lose a parent and then come all the way across country like that. It says so much about him and who he is."
Youth is served
LB Dion Bailey (concussion) has been cleared to play Saturday. That means USC will start three freshmen linebackers against UW. Bailey and Hayes Pullard are redshirt freshmen, while Lamar Dawson is a true freshman. They will be going against UW senior running back Chris Polk -- a one-time USC verbal commit -- who weighs 222 pounds and is the No. 2 all-time leading rusher for the school. Polk already has seven 100-yard rushing games this season.
Garry Paskwietz is the publisher of WeAreSC.com and has covered the Trojans since 1997. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.