USC Football Heads To Ohio State

Sept. 6, 2009

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Two of college football's traditional powers--No. 4 USC and No. 6 Ohio State--meet in an early-season Top 10 showdown under the lights before 100,000-plus fans in Columbus. It's USC's first visit to Ohio Stadium since 1990, a game that was cut short by a thunderstorm. The Trojans have won their last 6 meetings against the Buckeyes, including a memorable 35-3 victory in Los Angeles last season. USC also has fared well against Big Ten competition recently, winning the last 9 such games (by an average 24-point margin). It's the first of 2 Midwest trips (a rarity) for Troy this year, with the traditional Notre Dame clash set for mid-October in South Bend. USC--owner of 7 consecutive AP Top 4 finishes, BCS bowl trips, Pac-10 titles and 11-win seasons--is looking to protect a number of winning streaks: 13 non-conference games, 11 overall games and 9 non-conference road games. This is the 93rd consecutive game the Trojans have been ranked in the AP Top 25, extending their school record. USC's Pete Carroll--who once coached in Columbus--and Ohio State's Jim Tressel rank among college football's winningest active coaches (Carroll is tops at 85.6%, while Tressel is seventh at 74.1%). Carroll has never lost to a Big Ten foe in 6 meetings. USC, coming off a season-opening home blowout over San Jose State, enters the sold-out 'Horseshoe' with an offense led by precocious QB Matt Barkley, who didn't disappoint last week (completing 76% of his passes for 233 yards) when he became the first USC true freshman to start an opener at quarterback. He is surrounded by loads of talent, including TBs Joe McKnight (145 yards and 2 TDs in the opener) and Stafon Johnson (2 TDs last week), WR Damian Williams, FB Stanley Havili, TE Anthony McCoy, OG-C Jeff Byers and C Kristofer O'Dowd. The revamped USC defense (it lost 8 starters, all NFL draftees) also didn't disappoint in its 2009 debut, allowing just 121 total yards and 3 points. Troy's defensive leader is 2-time All-American S Taylor Mays, a top Thorpe Award candidate, while LB Chris Galippo anchors the linebacker crew. Ohio State, which squeaked by Navy at home last Saturday, has one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the country in QB Terrelle Pryor, who can beat you throwing and/or running. TB Dan Herron can pound the ball behind a veteran line. Like USC, the Buckeyes lost some marquee defensive players, and they now turn to the likes of S Kurt Coleman, DT Doug Worthington and LB Ross Homan to make the stops. The game will be beamed live nationally on ESPN and will also be shown in 3D in several theaters (including USC's Galen Center). ESPN's famed College GameDay pre-game show will originate from Columbus on Saturday morning.

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4:30 AM PT

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