USC Football Hosts California With Rose Bowl On The Line
Nov. 12, 2006
It's pretty simple: the Pac-10's top 2 teams--No. 4 USC and No. 17 California--meet in Los Angeles with a Rose Bowl berth on the line. A USC win would keep the Trojans on pace to capture at least a share of an unprecedented fifth straight league title and a guaranteed spot in their 31st Rose Bowl while staying alive in the BCS Championship Game mix (Troy is currently third in the BCS standings). If Cal wins, the Golden Bears would head to Pasadena for the first time since the 1958 season. This is USC's 94th meeting with California, the team Troy has played more than any opponent. USC, which has won 53 of its last 56 games (the 3 losses were by a total of 8 points, including in triple overtime at Cal in 2003), is riding a 31-game home winning streak and a 22-game Pac-10 home winning streak (both are league records). And the Trojans are 18-0 in November under sixth-year head coach Pete Carroll, the nation's winningest active coach. Troy, playing one of the nation's toughest schedules, is in the middle of a grueling 3-game homestand after handily beating No. 21/20 Oregon last Saturday and then facing No. 6/5 Notre Dame next week. The 92,000-seat Coliseum is sold out for the ninth straight game. USC--which has had an AP Top 4 finish (including national championships in 2003 and 2004) and a BCS bowl appearance in each of the past 4 years--has scored at least 20 points in an NCAA-record 61 consecutive outings and been ranked in the AP Top 10 for the past 55 games. USC is nationally ranked in total, scoring and passing offense. Efficient and productive QB John David Booty continues to be an effective leader in just his first year as a starter. His main targets both rank in USC's career pass receiving Top 10: All-American candidate WR Steve Smith and 2005 Biletnikoff Award finalist and All-American first team WR Dwayne Jarrett, who is the Pac-10's career touchdown reception leader. TB Chauncey Washington is coming off a career-best 119-yard, 3-TD rushing performance. He runs behind the likes of 2005 All-American OT Sam Baker and Rimington Award candidate C Ryan Kalil. The young Trojan defense (just 1 senior starter) is highly ranked in every national statistical category. USC's key defenders include LBs Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga (a 2006 Butkus Award semifinalist) and Dallas Sartz and DE Lawrence Jackson. PK Mario Danelo has been a near-flawless kicker. After losing its opener at Tennessee, California ripped off 8 consecutive wins before being upset at Arizona last weekend. Coach Jeff Tedford's Bears feature a high-powered offense with the Pac-10's top rusher (TB Marshawn Lynch, who owns a pair of 1,000-yard seasons) and top passer (QB Nate Longshore). Lynch is ranked high nationally not only in rushing, but in all-purpose running and scoring. WR DeSean Jackson excites as a pass catcher and punt returner (he has a Pac-10 record 4 scoring runbacks this year). MLB Desmond Bishop, one of the game's top tacklers, and CB Daymeion Hughes, who is second among the nation's pass thieves, spearhead a defense that specializes in takeaways. The game will be shown live nationally on ABC-TV. The Trojans and Bears also tangle in men's water polo on Saturday, while the USC men's basketball team hosts St. Mary's that day.