USC Football Goes To Washington State

Oct. 12, 2008

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No. 6/4 USC goes to Washington State seeking its 400th Pac-10 win. The series with the Cougars has been decidedly in USC's favor (USC has won 85% of the meetings, including the past 5). Troy has lost only 3 times in Pullman, but one of Trojan coach Pete Carroll's rare defeats came in the Palouse in 2002. It's the first of back-to-back road games for USC (a contest at Arizona is on deck), the only time that happens this year. Troy pitched a workmanlike, defense-oriented shutout victory last weekend at home over Arizona State. USC is riding 6 consecutive seasons of AP Top 4 finishes, BCS bowl trips, Pac-10 titles and 11 wins. This is the 84th straight game that USC has been in the AP Top 25. Carroll is college football's winningest active coach (84.2%). USC's defense ranks in the national Top 11 (and first in the Pac-10) in every statistical catergory, including first nationally in scoring defense and fourth in total defense. Some of Troy's more prominent defenders are Butkus Award candidates Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing at linebacker and Thorpe Award nominees Taylor Mays (a 2007 All-American first teamer) and Kevin Ellison at safety, plus Fili Moala at tackle. Offensively, the Trojans are Top 25 ranked in total offense, scoring offense, passing offense and passing efficiency. QB Mark Sanchez, who has thrown 14 touchdown passes this year, remains the Pac-10's passing efficiency leader. USC's tailback corps includes Joe McKnight (he's coming off a career-best 143-yard rushing day), Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable, while its group of pass catchers includes WRs Damian Williams (he has a TD catch in each of the past 4 games), Patrick Turner and Ronald Johnson. Veteran OG-C Jeff Byers, an Academic All-American candidate in his second year in the M.B.A. program, anchors an offensive line that has given up just 6 sacks. Washington State, with former Cougar center Paul Wulff as its new coach, has struggled so far this season. WSU's only victory was versus Portland State and it has dropped its past 3 outings, including big at Oregon State last weekend. The Cougars rank in the nation's bottom 15 statistically in total, scoring and rushing offense and defense. Because of injuries, QB Marshall Lobbestael is the third player to start at quarterback for WSU in 2008, but he got hurt late in last week's Oregon State game. Key offensive players are 2007 All-Pac-10 first team WR Brandon Gibson and RB Dwight Tardy, while RB Chantz Staden is a threat as a returner. MLB Greg Trent anchors the Cougar defense. The game will be shown live nationally on FSN.

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