USC Football Opens Pac-10 Play At Arizona
Sept. 17, 2006
It's the Pac-10 opener for No. 3/2 USC, as it goes on the road to face unranked but on-the-rise Arizona. Troy begins its quest for an unprecedented fifth consecutive league crown. The Trojans, who have won 47 of their last 49 games, bring in several winning streaks: a Pac-10 record 23 consecutive league contests, a USC record 16 straight road games, a Pac-10 record-tying 11 league road games in a row and 8 straight September contests. This equals the earliest that USC and UA have played. The Trojans own convincing non-conference wins over Arkansas on the road and last week at home over Nebraska. QB John David Booty has been impressive as Matt Leinart's replacement, hitting nearly 70% of his passes with a 6/0 TD/interception ratio. The next touchdown catch by WR Dwayne Jarrett, the 2005 Biletnikoff Award finalist and All-American first teamer, will tie a 26-year-old Pac-10 career record. USC's offense is also helped by the work of WR Steve Smith, who like Jarrett is in the school's career Top 10 in receptions, and a line led by 2005 All-American OT Sam Baker and Rimington Award candidate C Ryan Kalil, who open holes for a stable of runners. USC's much-improved defense is showing up in the national statistics, including first in turnover margin. That unit features LBs Rey Maualuga, Keith Rivers, Dallas Sartz, Brian Cushing and Oscar Lua and DE Lawrence Jackson. The Trojans lead the Pac-10 in both scoring offense and scoring defense. USC head coach Pete Carroll is the nation's winningest active coach (with at least 5 years experience), at 84.8%. In each of his past 4 seasons, the Trojans claim an AP Top 4 finish (including national championships in 2003 and 2004) and a BCS bowl appearance. And Troy has scored at least 20 points in its last 54 games, a national record. Like USC, Arizona also posted a 28-10 win last week, with the Wildcats defeating Division I-AA Stephen F. Austin. Head coach Mike Stoops has brought a new energy to the Wildcat program. The UA offense features a pair of talented RBs in Chris Jennings, who is coming off a 200-yard outing, and Chris Henry, plus exciting young QB Willie Tuitama and his able backup Adam Austin, and dangerous receiver/returner Syndric Steptoe. LBs Spencer Larsen and Ronnie Palmer and S Michael Johnson anchor the UA defense. Wildcat P/PK Nick Folk is nationally ranked in punting and field goals. If the game sells out, it'll be USC's ninth straight contest at capacity. The game will be shown live regionally on ABC-TV.