Feature: The Country Tries To Stop USC

Aug. 10, 2007

Courtesy: College Football '07 CSTV

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Arizona State turned to a former Miami coach, getting Dennis Erickson to leave Idaho after one season for a third tour of duty in the Pac-10, the home of the best program in college football.

In what was essentially a rebuilding year at USC, Pete Carroll's Trojans went 11-2, contended for a national title, tore apart Michigan in the Rose Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 4.

Most of that team is back, and the Trojans look scary.

'I think SC has to beat themselves,' Washington State coach Bill Doba said. 'I think he (Carroll) just has to guard against overconfidence or not being prepared or having really, really, really bad luck.'

Ten starters return on defense for USC, including stellar linebackers Brian Cushing, Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga. On offense, quarterback John David Booty leads the way. The last two USC quarterbacks - Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart - have won Heisman trophies. Booty, who threw 29 touchdown passes in his first season as starter, could make it three in a row.

Booty and Brian Brohm (Louisville) enter the season as two of the top Heisman contenders, but last year's runner-up, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, leads the way.

Despite all the cries for change, the Bowl Championship Series remains the same. It'll be New Orleans turn to double-host, putting on the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 and the national championship game a week later.

There's no denying USC, which begins the season as the favorite. Again.

'We're just a bunch of guys trying to put together a terrific team,' Carroll said, 'and we'll see how far that takes us.'

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