Trojans Try to Slow Down Fasani, High-Scoring Cardinal

Sept 28, 2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Stanford's offense has been overwhelming. Defense has been Southern California's strong suit.

That could make for an interesting matchup when the Cardinal (2-0, 1-0Pac-10) face the Trojans (1-2, 0-1) on Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Stanford, trying for its first 3-0 start in 25 years, is coming off a 38-22opening victory over Boston College and a 51-28 rout of Arizona State.

The Trojans (1-2, 0-1) have lost two straight, both against ranked teams.But, thanks mostly to their strong defense, USC had a good shot at upsets inboth - losing 10-6 to current No. 11 Kansas State and 24-22 to Oregon, No. 6this week. The Trojans' lone win was 21-10 over San Jose State.

Stanford's Randy Fasani, a senior who already has thrown for eighttouchdowns and 527 yards this fall, particularly worries USC coach PeteCarroll.

'The big factor for them is that not only can they run the football welland pass the football well, but when the play breaks down, Randy Fasani alsostarts to create,' the first-year USC coach said. 'He creates like he's inthe early stages of being a John Elway, Doug Flutie or Brett Favre.

'He makes the plays that already make him look like those guys. That'swhat's hard to defend, things that are not in the normal scope of a play.'

Fasani is 32-of-55 and has not thrown an interception.

The Trojans counter with Carson Palmer, coming off a career passing game inthe loss at Oregon last weekend. Palmer threw for 411 yards and set a schoolmark with 419 yards of total offense, but he also threw three interceptionswhile going 25-of-40 and was sacked five times.

Still, Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham was impressed by Palmer's passing.

'There is no question that he is an outstanding quarterback,' Willinghamsaid. 'His game last week, a lot of quarterbacks never have a game like thatin their careers.'

The Trojans are favored by two points in the renewal of a rivalry that datesback to 1905. USC holds a 52-23-3 lead in the series, but Stanford has won thelast two meetings and three of the last five.

Although Stanford has been impressive in its first two games, Willinghamisn't entertaining comparisons to Cardinal teams from the past, including the1999 squad that went to the Rose Bowl.

'I think when you get off to a good start, then it's natural for people onthe outside to draw those kind of comparisons,' the Stanford coach said.'What we on the inside are focused on is understanding that what happened lastweek does not have anything to do with what will happen next week.

'SC doesn't care what we did last week. They're only interested in beatingus when we get to the Coliseum.'

Stanford's running game is led by Brian Allen, who has averaged 6.9 yards acarry this fall, and Kerry Carter, with a 4.4 average. Ryan Wells has averaged18.2 yards on nine receptions and has three touchdowns.

The Trojans' ground game is led by Sultan McCullough, a former Pac-10 sprintchampion who has rushed for four touchdowns and caught a pass for anotherscore.

Defensively for USC, strong safety Troy Polamalu (27 tackles, four forlosses) and cornerback Antuan Simmons (11 tackles, one interception) arestandouts in what appears to be one of the conference's best secondaries.

Polamalu said the Trojans were eager to play again after losing to Oregon ona field goal with 12 seconds left.

'We've hung in there with a couple of the best in the nation. Whether wecan get over the edge and beat them is the question,' Polamalu said.

AP Sports Writer

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