Football   
    USC Football Returns Home To Host Washington State
    Damian Williams
    Damian Williams

    Sept. 20, 2009

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    No. 12/10 USC, looking to rebound from its last-second upset loss at Washington, returns to the Coliseum to host Pac-10 foe Washington State. Recent history has shown that the Trojans bounce back quite well when they drop their Pac-10 road opener. This game will be under the lights and the Trojans have won their past 28 home night contests. USC also has won its last 10 games in the Coliseum. Both teams are looking for their first league victory of 2009. The series with the Cougars has been decidedly in USC's favor (Troy has won 85% of the meetings, including the past 6), most recently a 69-0 Trojan shutout last year. USC owns a streak of 7 consecutive Pac-10 titles, AP Top 4 finishes, BCS bowl trips and 11-win seasons. This is the 95th consecutive game the Trojans have been ranked in the AP Top 25, extending their school record. USC's Pete Carroll is college football's winningest active coach (84.9%). Two of USC's key performers--true freshman QB Matt Barkley and 2-time All-American S Taylor Mays--are hoping to return to the lineup after missing last week's game because of injuries. TB Joe McKnight--coming off a 100-yard rushing outing--is USC's featured backing an offense that ranks 17th nationally in on the ground and WR Damian Williams is the top receiver. The Trojans' veteran offensive line is led by OG-C Jeff Byers and C Kristofer O'Dowd. USC's defense--with LB Chris Galippo the team's tackle leader--continues to be ranked in the national Top 25 in every stat category. After starting its 2009 slate with 3 consecutive home games (including an overtime win over SMU last weekend), Washington State now plays 5 of its next 6 contests on the road. Second-year head coach Paul Wulff changed starting quarterbacks last week, elevating QB Marshall Lobbestael over QB Kevin Lopina. WSU's ground attack is led by RBs James Montgomery and Dwight Tardy, ninth on the school's career rushing ladder, while WRs Jared Karstetter, Daniel Blackledge and Jeffrey Solomon are the top pass catchers. WSU has struggled on defense, as it ranks no better than 92nd (among 120 teams) in any defensive category. Ss Xavier Hicks and Chima Nwachukwu are the leading tacklers. Both of WSU's specialists are nationally ranked: P Reid Forrest (sixth nationally in punting) and PK Nico Grasu (15th in field goals). The game will be televised live nationally by FSN. USC's top-ranked, defending NCAA champion men's water polo team will play a doubleheader on campus beforehand.