USC Football Remains On The Road With Game At Arizona

Oct. 19, 2008

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No. 6/4 USC remains on the road for the second straight week as it travels to much-improved Arizona. This will be the Trojans' last regular-season out-of-state game in 2008. USC has won 6 in a row over the Wildcats, including the past 3 visits to Tucson. QB Mark Sanchez, whose first career start was last year against Arizona, is coming a school-record-tying 5 TD game at WSU n(he is the Pac-10's passing efficiency and total offense leader). USC posted its second consecutive shutout after a 69-0 win at Washington State last week (a first since 1971; the last time Troy had 3 straight whitewashes was 1947) and the Trojans now have scored 138 unanswered points. This is the 85th straight game that USC has been in the AP Top 25. USC has put together 6 consecutive seasons of AP Top 4 finishes, BCS bowl trips, Pac-10 titles and 11 wins. USC's Pete Carroll is college football's winningest active coach (84.4%). USC's defense ranks in the national Top 8 (and first in the Pac-10) in every statistical catergory, including first nationally in scoring defense and pass defense and second in total defense. Headliners on that defense include Butkus Award candidates Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing at linebacker (both are Lombardi Award semifinalists) and Thorpe Award nominees Taylor Mays (a 2007 All-American first teamer) and Kevin Ellison (the team's top tackler) at safety, plus Fili Moala at tackle. Offensively, the Trojans are Top 25 ranked in every national stat category. A trio of USC tailbacks--Broderick Green, Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable--eclipsed 100 rushing yards at USC (a first since 1977), and then there's TB Joe McKnight (he has a pair of 100-yard outings in 2008). Among Sanchez's favorite aerial targets are WRs Patrick Turner, Ronald Johnson (both caught 2 TDs last weekend) and Damian Williams. 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. Coach Mike Stoops' Arizona squad is in the thick of the Pac-10 race after defeating California at home last Saturday. The Wildcats feature a pass-happy, high-scoring offense and a stingy defense that is particularly-adept against the pass. Veteran QB Willie Tuitama, among the national leaders in passing efficiency, is the school's career leader in total offense, passing yardage, passing touchdowns, pass completions and pass attempts. RB Nic Grigsby is the Wildcats' top runner. Multi-threat WR Mike Thomas (he's a dangerous punt returner), a 2007 All-Pac-10 first teamer, is the Pac-10's top receiver in 2008 and is high on Arizona's career charts in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Top Wildcat tacklers are LBs Sterling Lewis and Ronnie Palmer, while S Nate Ness locks down the secondary. P Keenyn Crier made the 2007 All-Pac-10 first team as a freshman. The game is sold out in 57,400-seat Arizona Stadium and it will be shown live nationally on FSN cable.

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