USC Football Team Travels To Arkansas To Open 2006 Season
Aug. 26, 2006
The No. 3/6-ranked USC football team, which has won 45 of its last 47 games (both losses were by 3 points in the final seconds, including in last season's BCS Championship Game), opens its 2006 campaign on Labor Day weekend by making its first trip ever to Fayetteville to face Arkansas. It's Troy's first visit to the state since 1974, when USC's hopes for an undefeated season seemingly opened with a thud against the Razorbacks in Little Rock (but the Trojans regrouped to win the national championship that season). USC, which plays 3 of its first 4 contests on the road this year, is riding a school-record 15-game road winning streak and also has captured its last 8 season openers. The Trojans have been on quite a run lately. In each of the past 4 years under sixth-year USC head coach Pete Carroll, USC has had an AP Top 4 finish (including national championships in 2003 and 2004), a BCS bowl appearance and a Pac-10 championship. And Troy has scored at least 20 points in its last 52 games, a school record. USC begins its life after the Heismans, having lost Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush among the 11 NFL draftees from the 2005 class. The Trojan offense returns the likes of 2005 Biletnikoff Award finalist and All-American first team WR Dwayne Jarrett, who is within 3 touchdown catches of the Pac-10 career record, plus 2005 All-American OT Sam Baker and Rimington Award candidate C Ryan Kalil. But there'll be a new quarterback (John David Booty) and tailback (it's possible a true freshman could start an opener for the first time in Trojan history) among the 7 new offensive starters. USC's defense appears improved over the 2005 version, with DE Lawrence Jackson and a slew of talented linebackers such as Keith Rivers, Dallas Sartz, Oscar Lua, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing. Carroll coached at Arkansas early in his career. Arkansas, featuring 20 returning starters who are looking to rebound from a 4-7 campaign in 2005, figures to be a bit motivated for this game after last year's 70-17 loss to Troy. Coach Houston Nutt's Razorbacks have won 41 of their 54 home games in his 8-year tenure. Arkansas has led the SEC in rushing 3 of the past 4 years, but could be without 2005 Freshman All-American TB Darren McFadden, a 1,000-yard runner last fall (he has a toe injury). If he's out, watch for TBs Felix Jones and burly Peyton Hillis to pick up the slack. Veteran QB Robert Johnson directs the Razorback offensive attack, while 2005 All-SEC LB Sam Olajubutu spearheads the defense. The game, which is sold out in 72,000-seat Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, will be shown live nationally on ESPN.