Football   
    No. 9 USC Football Hosts No. 23 Oregon In Pac-10 Home Opener
    Patrick Turner
    Patrick Turner

    Sept. 28, 2008

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    No. 9-ranked USC, looking to bounce back from its stunning loss at Oregon State, returns to the sold-out Coliseum to play its first Pac-10 home contest of 2008 as it hosts No. 23/20 Oregon. The Trojans will not only have that Oregon State nightmare in their craw, but they'll surely remember that Oregon beat them last season in Eugene. The Ducks are always a challenging foe for USC, as they have won 6 of their last 10 meetings against the Trojans. However, the Trojans have won 25 straight night games in the Coliseum. USC has posted 6 consecutive seasons of AP Top 4 finishes, BCS bowl trips, Pac-10 titles and 11 wins. This is the 82nd consecutive game that USC has been in the AP Top 25. The game will feature 2 sets of brothers on opposite sidelines (the Tupous and the Matthews). USC's Pete Carroll, college football's winningest active coach (84.8%), has won 80% of his games against AP Top 25 teams (29-7). USC's defense, which ranks in the national Top 25 in every statistical catergory, features Butkus Award candidates Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing at linebacker and Thorpe Award nominees Taylor Mays (a 2007 All-American first teamer) and Kevin Ellison at safety. QB Mark Sanchez, with 10 touchdown passes in 3 games, directs the Trojan offense. USC's stable of versatile tailbacks features Joe McKnight, C.J. Gable, Stafon Johnson and Allen Bradford, while its receiving corps includes WRs Damian Williams, Patrick Turner, Vidal Hazelton and Ronald Johnson. Veteran OG-C Jeff Byers, an Academic All-American candidate in his second year in the M.B.A. program, anchors an offensive line that has given up just 2 sacks. Oregon, coming off a dominating victory at Washington State last Saturday and with only 1 loss to date, is guided by the Pac-10's senior head coach, Mike Bellotti (14th year). The Ducks have been grappling with injuries to their quarterbacks, but their offense still is the best statistically in the Pac-10 (and in the Top 7 nationally in rushing offense, total offense and scoring offense). Getting the quarterbacking call last week were soph JC transfer QB Jeremiah Masoli and true freshman QB Darron Thomas, who was fifth string at the start of 2008 camp. But they has lots of talented players around him, including TBs LeGarrett Blount and Jeremiah Johnson, TE Ed Dickson and WRs Jaison Williams and Terence Scott. DE Nick Reed and ROV Patrick Chung, both All-Pac-10 first teamers last season, highlight Oregon's aggressive defense. The game will be shown live nationally on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2. USC's 2008 Olympians will be saluted at halftime.