No. 7 USC Football Hosts Winless Washington
Oct. 26, 2008
After playing the past 2 contests on the road, No. 7/6 USC returns to the comforts of the sold-out Coliseum for a 2-game homestand, with struggling Washington up first. It's Homecoming. And it's November, when USC head coach Pete Carroll--college football's winningest active coach (84.5%)--sports a 23-0 record. Although Troy has won 6 in a row against the Huskies, the series with Washington traditionally features close outcomes. This is the 86th straight game that USC has been in the AP Top 25. USC, which is coming off a hard-fought 7-point win at Arizona, is riding a string of 6 consecutive seasons of AP Top 4 finishes, BCS bowl trips, Pac-10 titles and 11 wins. Troy is ranked in the Top 25 in every national offensive and defensive statistical category, including first in total defense, scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. In fact, USC's total (215.6) and scoring (8.1) defense averages are its best in 41 years, while its pass defense (129.6) is its best in 32 years. Leading Trojan defenders are 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 at safety, plus Fili Moala at tackle. On offense, QB Mark Sanchez continues to be the Pac-10's passing efficiency and total offense leader. The Trojan running game is led by TBs Stafon Johnson (he had 184 all-purpose yards at Arizona), Joe McKnight and C.J. Gable. USC's leading receivers include WRs Patrick Turner (he's among the school's Top 15 career pass catchers), Damian Williams and Ronald Johnson. Veteran OG-C Jeff Byers, an Academic All-American candidate in his second year in the M.B.A. program, anchors a young, but steady offensive line. Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham has beaten USC only 4 times in 13 tries at 3 schools. His Huskies have yet to win a game in 2008, having lost all 7 (their worst start since 1969), including last Saturday against Notre Dame. UW ranks no higher than No. 108 in any national team statistical category (except 76th in passing offense). The Husky offense is directed by young QB Ronnie Fouch, filling in for injured QB Jake Locker. No Washington runner has more rushing yards than Locker. WR D'Andre Goodwin is among the Pac-10's top receivers, while OLB Mason Foster ranks among the league's leading tacklers. The game will be shown live nationally on FSN cable.