USC Football Hosts Arkansas In 2005 Home Opener This Saturday
Sept. 11, 2005
Top-ranked, 2-time defending national champion USC makes its 2005 home debut in the friendly confines of the Coliseum, where it has won a school-record 21 in a row and where a Pac-10-record 85,000-plus fans attended games last year (a possible sellout crowd is expected this Saturday). USC, which has won its last 7 home openers, also is riding a national-best 23-game overall winning streak and a 13-game non-conference victory string. This is only the fourth meeting between the Trojans and Razorbacks, with the first 3 contests (all season openers) coming consecutively in the 1970s when Troy was in the midst of a run of success similar to today's (2 of those contests came in USC's national championship years of 1972 and 1974). In fact, USC opened its 1974 campaign with an upset road loss at Arkansas, but rebounded to win the national title. This is the second time Arkansas has faced Troy in the Coliseum and USC also was ranked No. 1 in that 1973 shutout victory over the Razorbacks. USC head coach Pete Carroll is one of several Trojan staffers who once worked at Arkansas. USC, coming off a bye after easily dominating Hawaii on the road in its Labor Day weekend opener, features such headline offensive players as 2004 Heisman Trophy QB Matt Leinart, Heisman finalist TB Reggie Bush and fellow running mate LenDale White, WRs Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, TE Dominique Byrd and 5 offensive linemen who could earn post-season honors. Expect more answers this week about the ability of the Trojan defense, which surrendered 437 total yards to Hawaii (377 through the air), as S Darnell Bing, LB Dallas Sartz and their defensive teammates will be challenged by Arkansas' strong running attack. The Razorbacks currently lead the nation in rushing offense, while USC was tops in the country last season in rushing defense. Troy has had mixed results over the years with Southeastern Conference opponents. Arkansas, where USC will open its 2006 season, is coming off a last-minute home loss to SEC foe Vanderbilt last weekend. Coach Houston Nutt so far has relied on the legs of TBs De'Arrius Howard, Peyton Hillis and Felix Jones while breaking in new QB Robert Johnson. Trojan Fan Fest, a free celebration featuring food, activities and live entertainment outside the Coliseum prior to every home game, makes its debut. Fans at the game wishing to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina can make donations to the Red Cross. USC's 2004 national championship banner will be unveiled. The game will be shown live nationally on FSN.