USC Football Concludes Regular Season At Crosstown Foe UCLA

Nov. 26, 2006

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No. 2 USC, already guaranteed a berth in the Rose Bowl after capturing an unprecedented fifth consecutive Pac-10 title 2 weeks ago, could vault into a third straight BCS championship Game with a victory at UCLA in the 76th rendition of the famous crosstown rivalry (Troy currently is second in the BCS standings). Also at stake are year-long city bragging rights, possession of the Victory Bell and key points in the Lexus Gauntlet standings. The Trojans have won 7 in a row over the Bruins. The Rose Bowl is USC's second home, as this will be the 46th time the Trojans have played in Pasadena. The game is sold out, a record 10th regular season sellout for USC in 2006. Troy has fared well against UCLA teams coming off a bye and in December games against the Bruins. USC is trying to sweep traditional foes Notre Dame and UCLA for an unprecedented fifth consecutive season. It's a rare Irish-Bruin back-to-back scenario for the Trojans. The Trojans, playing one of the nation's toughest schedules (they have beaten the SEC West and Big 12 North champs, as well as the nation's top independent team and the Pac-10 runnerup), are facing their 10th bowl-eligible team of 2006. USC is the only team in the country to have played all its non-conference games against BCS schools. Troy has won 55 of its last 58 games (the 3 losses were by a total of 8 points) under sixth-year head coach Pete Carroll, the nation's winningest active coach. 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 63 consecutive outings and been ranked in the AP Top 10 for the past 57 games. USC is coming off a 20-point win over intersectional foe Notre Dame, a team UCLA nearly beat earlier this season. USC's offense is ranked in the national Top 25 in passing, total yards and scoring. First-year starting QB John David Booty, who tops the Pac-10 in passing efficiency, is playing like a veteran. All-American WR Dwayne Jarrett, the 2005 Biletnikoff Award finalist who is the Pac-10's career touchdown reception leader, had a monster game against the Irish and is within range of the USC career pass catching record. Fellow WR Steve Smith also is having a fine season and leads the Trojans in catches. TBs C.J. Gable, who had his first 100-yard outing last week against Notre Dame, and hard-charging Chauncey Washington lead the Trojan ground attack. They run behind linemen like 2005 All-American OT Sam Baker and Rimington Award candidate C Ryan Kalil. The young Trojan defense (just 1 senior starter)--featuring the likes of LBs Keith Rivers, Dallas Sartz, Oscar Lua and Brian Cushing, DE Lawrence Jackson, CB Terrell Thomas and S Kevin Ellison--has become staunch the past 4 games and is now ranked in the top 2 of every Pac-10 statistical category. UCLA had a bye last week after winning its past 2 games and is angling for bowl positioning. QB Ben Olson could return to the lineup after a 6-game absence because of injury, but QB Patrick Cowan is ready to continue as his replacement just in case. TB Chris Markey has been the Bruins' workhorse both on the ground and through the air. UCLA's defense, especially strong against the rush, is led by sackmeister DEs Justin Hickman and Bruce Davis. PK Justin Medlock is among the nation's best. UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell has experienced this intracity rivalry as a player and a coach. The game will be shown live nationally on ABC-TV. The USC men's basketball team hosts Loyola Marymount in the new Galen Center that evening.

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