Football   
    USC Football Goes To No. 5 Oregon
    Mark Sanchez
    Mark Sanchez

    Oct. 21, 2007

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    No. 9/8 USC goes after the 750th win in program history when it travels to No. 5 Oregon, a team with an identical record. The Trojans remain on the road for the second week in a row as they make their sixth visit to Eugene since 1998. USC has won its past 2 times in Autzen Stadium, which is sold out (54,000) and guaranteed to be loud. Troy also is looking for its fourth consecutive win over the Ducks. This is the highest ranked Oregon team that USC has ever faced. Although USC has lost more than it has won when playing a ranked Oregon squad, it has been victorious in the last 3 such occurrences. This is the first of 3 ranked opponents USC must face in its next 5 games. This is the 73rd consecutive game that USC has been in the AP Top 25. The Trojans also have returned to the AP Top 10 this week after a one-week absence following their school-record 63-game run. Three sets of brothers (the Matthews, Rowes and Tupous) will be on opposite sidelines in Eugene. USC is coming off its most decisive win ever over Notre Dame ever and its first shutout of the Irish in South Bend since 1933. The Trojans, who have been hampered all season by injuries (with 23 key Trojans having missed at least 1 game), are getting healthier and could benefit this week by the continued return of some of the wounded. The question for USC's offense is who will be at the controls this week, as QB Mark Sanchez has filled in quite capably the past 2 weeks for QB John David Booty (he's in the USC career Top 10 in passing and total offense), who is still recovering from a broken finger. TE Fred Davis, a Mackey Award candidate who leads the nation's tight ends in yards per catch, has jumped into USC's career receiving Top 20. The Trojan running attack--with such tailbacks as Chauncey Washington, Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight--is much improved over a year ago. The USC offensive line, which has been hard-hit by the injury bug, could see the return of some key blockers, including 2-time All-American OT Sam Baker (a 2007 Lombardi Award semifinalist). USC's defense has been its strength, as statistically the Trojans are in the national Top 10 in every category. It features All-American DT Sedrick Ellis and DE Lawrence Jackson (he has 24 career sacks) on the line, the nation's premier linebacking corps led by LB Keith Rivers (a 2007 Butkus Award semifinalist) and a secondary with CB Terrell Thomas, S Taylor Mays and S Kevin Ellison. USC head coach Pete Carroll, the nation's winningest active coach, has led his Trojans to 5 consecutive AP Top 4 finishes, BCS bowls, Pac-10 titles and 11-win seasons. Carroll has won 80% of his games against AP Top 25 teams. Oregon, coming off an impressive win at Washington last Saturday, is guided by the Pac-10's senior head coach, Mike Bellotti (13th year). The Ducks' spread offense--which had 661 total yards at Washington, including 465 on the ground--is one of the nation's most potent and highly ranked (averaging 550 total yards and 46 points), featuring the Pac-10's top passer and runner. Multi-threat QB Dennis Dixon, who leads the Pac-10 in total offense and passing efficiency, is at the controls. Talented RB Jonathan Stewart, who ran for 251 yards last weekend, is among the nation's leaders in rushing, all-purpose running and kickoff returns. WR Jaison Williams is a big-play wideout. Oregon's defense--behind the likes of FS Matthew Harper, ROV Patrick Chung and DE Nick Reed--specializes in negative-yardage plays. The game will be shown live nationally on FSN cable.