No. 1 USC Football Hosts No. 16 Fresno State In Non-Conference Game
Nov. 13, 2005
Top-ranked, 2-time defending national champion USC steps out of conference this week to host No. 16 Fresno State of the Western Athletic Conference. It's just the second time the teams have ever met. The Bulldogs upset Troy in the memorable first meeting in the 1992 Freedom Bowl. It was the only time in 27 games that USC has lost to a WAC team. The Trojans will attempt to protect a number of impressive winning streaks: a Pac-10 record 32 overall games (the eighth longest in NCAA history), 25 home games (a win would equal the Pac-10 mark set by California in 1919-23), 15 non-conference games, 15 November games, a school-record 14 games against AP Top 25 teams and 7 non-conference home games. If you want to compare scores, both teams played Hawaii and Oregon this season. USC assistant coaches Jethro Franklin and Lane Kiffin both played and coached at Fresno State (Franklin was on the staff of the Bulldogs' 1992 team that beat USC). The game is sold out, USC's seventh of the regular season and third at home (both equaling records set last year). After this game, the Trojans get a bye before closing out the regular season by hosting crosstown rival UCLA, like Fresno State a 1-loss, Top 25 team. USC is coming off a convincing win at California (the site of its most recent loss in 2003) that guaranteed the Trojans at least a share of their fourth consecutive Pac-10 title. The USC offense is in the national Top 10 in every statistical category, including first in total offense and second in scoring offense. USC, which is on the verge of breaking the Pac-10 total offense mark, is the first school in NCAA history with a 3,000-yard passer, a pair of 1,000-yard runners and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season (and Troy is about to add another 1,000-yard pass catcher). QB Matt Leinart is playing at a level above his 2004 Heisman Trophy season, TBs Reggie Bush (a leading Heisman candidate, like Leinart) and LenDale White have both climbed into USC's prestigious Top 10 career rushing chart (White is on the verge of setting the school career records for touchdowns and rushing TDs), WR Dwayne Jarrett continues to lead the nation in scoring catches (he's close to setting the school marks for season and career TD grabs) and fellow WR Steve Smith is about to get 1,000 receiving yards. These skill players operate behind a veteran offensive line where each player is performing at an All-American level. USC's defense, which appears to have solidified despite a rash of injuries because of the play of such players as S Darnell Bing and DEs Lawrence Jackson and Frostee Rucker, is among the nation's best against the run. USC has a turnover margin higher than at the end of any previous season under by head coach Pete Carroll. Fresno State gets a few extra days of rest after breaking Boise State's 31-game WAC winning streak last Thursday in a showdown for first place in the league. Head coach Pat Hill has directed his Bulldogs to only 1 loss in their last 15 games. QB Paul Pinegar, one of the country's elite signalcallers, directs an offense that is fifth nationally in scoring. Fresno State also shows up high in the national stats in defense (eighth in scoring defense) and special teams. The game will be shown live nationally on FSN cable.