USC Football Goes To Arizona State For Thanksgiving Showdown
Nov. 18, 2007
No. 11/12 USC plays its first Thanksgiving game since 1938. The stakes are high, as the winner stays alive for a possible BCS bowl bid (it's no wonder the game is sold out). Troy has captured the last 7 meetings in this young series with No. 7/6 ASU (the Trojans have played the Sun Devils less than any other league foe), but USC hasn't fared well against ranked Sun Devil teams. Both teams are coming off byes after hard-fought road victories (USC over No. 24 California and ASU over UCLA). This is the 76th consecutive game that USC has been in the AP Top 25. The Trojans have won 71 of their last 80 games. USC head coach Pete Carroll, the nation's winningest active coach, remains unbeaten in November (he's 22-0). He has won 79% of his games against Top 25 teams. QB John David Booty, who is in the school's career Top 10 in passing and total offense, is the best he's been since missing 3 mid-season games with a broken finger. He is 7-0 as a starter against ranked teams. TBs Chauncey Washington (coming off a monster 220-yard effort at Cal to enter Troy's prestigious career Top 20 rushing chart), Stafon Johnson and exciting Joe McKnight have helped USC's running game improve from a year ago. TE Fred Davis, a Mackey Award candidate, and WR Patrick Turner are in USC's career receiving Top 25, while young WR Vidal Hazelton is starting to emerge. Two-time All-American OT Sam Baker could return to the lineup after a hamstring injury. USC's defense--the Pac-10's best--remains the club's strength, as statistically the Trojans are in the national Top 10 in every category (including third in total defense). It features All-American DT Sedrick Ellis (a semifinalist for the 2007 Bednarik Award and Lott Trophy) and DE Lawrence Jackson (he has 25.5 career sacks) on the line, the nation's premier linebacking corps led by All-American candidate LB Keith Rivers and a secondary with CB Terrell Thomas, S Taylor Mays and S Kevin Ellison. Although Dennis Erickson is in his first year as ASU's head coach, longtime USC fans will remember him from his days at Washington State and Oregon State. He got his Sun Devils off to an 8-0 start before they fell at Oregon a few weeks ago. ASU has a number of talented players on offense, including QB Rudy Carpenter, TB Keegan Herring and a wideout corps that includes multi-threat WR Rudy Burgess. The Sun Devils' defense is among the nation's best, as they are nationally ranked in the Top 20 in every stat category. LB Robert James is approaching 100 tackles this season and SS Troy Nolan is among the nation's leading pass thieves. P-PK Thomas Weber is the Pac-10's top kicker as just a redshirt freshman. The game will be shown live nationally on ESPN.