Top-Ranked USC Football Opens 2004 Season Against Virginia Tech In D.C.

Aug. 21, 2004

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For the first time since 1979, the USC football team enters a seaso as the defending national champion and the pre-season No. 1 pick. The Trojans, who'll be the home team despite being thousands of miles from Los Angeles, will attempt to protect their 9-game winning streak when they meet perennial power Virginia Tech. It's the first game of the 2004 college season. It's also the first matchup between the schools, only the second time USC has played in Maryland and just the seventh time Troy has competed in August. Although USC has been so-so historically against Atlantic Coast Conference foes, it usually fares well both when top-ranked and in openers (especially in openers coming off a national title campaign). Virginia Tech will be playing its first game as a member of the ACC, having come over from the Big East. Pete Carroll, the 2003 National Coach of the Year, will bring in a Trojan team capable of an explosive offense, a stifling defense and a potent kicking game. All-American signalcaller Matt Leinart, a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy, will attempt to better his record-setting 2003 season. The rushing attack will be led by the 'Thunder and Lightning' tailback duo of LenDale White and Reggie Bush. All-American Shaun Cody headlines a defense that also includes the likes of Matt Grootegoed, Mike Patterson and Lofa Tatupu. Tom Malone was a record-breaking All-American punter last year. Yet, some questions remain for USC: Can the relatively-inexperienced offensive line do its job? Will the young receiving corps step up? How will the cornerbacks play? What's the playing status of several key Trojans? Has USC been able to maintain its focus despite the hype and off-season distractions? Virginia Tech, noted for 18th-year head coach Frank Beamer's 'Beamer Ball' style that produces touchdowns by its defense and special teams, returns only 9 starters, including talented quarterback Bryan Randall and cornerback Jimmy Williams. The game is a sellout in 91,655-seat Fed Ex Field, but it will be shown live nationally in prime time on ESPN (on whose air USC is making a rare appearance).