Most intriguing story line: Opponents of the College Football Playoff system worried that it would water down the sport’s regular season. So far, such concern has proved unfounded. Saturday is proof that each game is critical. No. 4 Washington sits on the cusp of the playoff, but a loss would be crushing. No. 20 USC isn’t playoff-bound but can still attain a Rose Bowl berth if it wins out and catches a break from Colorado and Utah.
USC pass offense vs. Washington pass defense: The Huskies, who have the No. 13 passing defense in the nation, have given up more than 200 passing yards only twice this season. USC quarterback Sam Darnold hasn't thrown for fewer than 200 yards. He has averaged 290 yards passing per game as the starter, and USC has generated more than 500 yards of offense in five consecutive games. Darnold’s top receiving target, JuJu Smith-Schuster, has been bothered by a back injury for nearly a month. In two games playing with the injury, he hasn’t been his usual self, catching eight passes for 76 yards. Washington’s secondary is formidable. Helton said that cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Kevin King and safety Budda Baker are all future NFL players.