2007 USC Trojans football team


2007 USC Trojans football team

NCAATeamFootballSeason
Year=2007
Team=USC Trojans


Conference=Pac-10 Conference
Division=
ShortConference=Pac-10
Record=11–2
ConfRecord=7–2
BCSRank=
CoachRank=2
APRank=3
HeadCoach=Pete Carroll
OffCoach=Steve Sarkisian
DefCoach=Nick Holt
OScheme=Multiple
DScheme=4-3
Stadium=Los Angeles Coliseum (c. 92,000, grass)
Champion= Pac 10 Co-Champion
BowlTourney=Rose Bowl
BowlTourneyResult=v. Illinois, W 49–17
The 2007 University of Southern California Trojans football team (variously "Trojans" or "USC") represented the University of Southern California during the college football season of 2007–2008, winning a share of the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10) Championship and winning the 2008 Rose Bowl.Eddie Pells, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200801010062 USC gets all the bounces and the points in 49-17 win over Illinois] , Associated Press, January 1, 2008, Accessed May 30, 2008.] The team was coached by Pete Carroll and played their home games at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The team entered the season with high expectations. It was ranked No. 1 in all national pre-season polls, picked unanimously to win the Pac-10 Conference and expected to contend for a national championship. [Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/stewart_mandel/01/16/early07.rankings/index.html Early look at '07] , CNNSI.com, January 16, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] [Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=2738142 Trojans, Wolverines top revised look at 2007] , ESPN.com, January 22, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview07/news/story?id=2971673 USC consensus favorite to win BCS championship] , ESPN.com, August 14, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Stewart Mandel, Luke Winn, Cory McCartney and Austin Murphy, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/football/ncaa/specials/preview/2007/08/29/crystal.ball/index.html The Crystal Ball] , SI.com, August 29, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Eric Sondheimer, Gary Klein, Chris Foster, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jul/27/sports/sp-pacmedia27 Pac-10 coaches come not to bury the Trojans but praise them] , "Los Angeles Times", July 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Those hopes were dealt a major blow when the Trojans lost to 41-point underdog Stanford in a mid-season game that was named one of the greatest upsets in a season that became defined by them. [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0712/cfb.upsets/content.9.html Biggest Upsets of 2007: #2 Stanford 24, No. 2 USC 23] , SI.com, December 13, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Ted Miller, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3057109 Looks good on paper, but Pac-10 midseason arrives with thud] , ESPN.com, October 10, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/bowls07/news/story?id=3141008 In the Year of the Upset, memorable moments were plentiful] , ESPN.com, December 4, 2007, Accessed August 19, 2008.] After their second loss, there were questions as to whether the team would be able to even win their own conference, let alone compete nationally.Matt Hayes, [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21507051/ The Trojan dynasty is dead and buried] , MSNBC/Sporting News, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Chris Dufresne, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/28/sports/sp-dufresne28 Loss exposes Trojans as team in transition] , "Los Angeles Times", October 28, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] However, USC defied mid-season expectations and rallied, finishing the season ranked No. 2 in the Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the Associated Press (AP) Poll. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=1&seasonType=3&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Final (Dec. 16)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 7, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=1&seasonType=3&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Final (Dec. 16] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 7, 2008.] By the end of the season various sports journalists said the Trojans were playing the best football of anyone in the country.Gerry Ahern, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/news;_ylt=AkFX2mDbS.VOYNwfycvPJugcvrYF?slug=ga-rose010108&prov=yhoo&type=lgns USC back in title hunt?] , Yahoo! Sports, January 1, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/bowls07/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=3176724 Trojans look like nation's best with no one left to play] , ESPN.com, January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Art Spander, [http://cbs.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/10553727/rss USC makes its claim as best team in land] , CBSSports.com, January 1, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Larry Dorman, [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/02/sports/ncaafootball/02rose.html U.S.C. Cuts the Profile of a Title Contender] , "The New York Times", January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

The Trojans accomplished two major feats: They became the first team to win six straight Pac-10 titles, and were the first team in major college football to achieve six straight 11-win seasons.Bill Dwyre, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/02/sports/sp-dwyre2 Carroll gives no signals for a fade pattern] , "Los Angeles Times", December 2, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Eddie Pells, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200801010062 (6) USC 49, (13) Illinois 17] , Associated Press, January 1, 2008, Accessed May 30, 2008.] After the season, a number of USC players were selected in the 2008 NFL Draft, with ten players taken overall and a school-record seven players selected in the first two rounds.Sam Farmer, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/27/sports/sp-nfl27 USC is big as the day is Long] , "Los Angeles Times", April 27, 2008, "Accessed April 28, 2008."]

Before the season

Pre-season outlook

The Trojans ended the 2006 season with a victory in the 2007 Rose Bowl Game and a No. 4 ranking in both AP and Coaches polls, their fifth straight year winning the Pac-10 Championship and finishing in the top 4. During that 5-year period, the team won two national championships (2003, 2004). [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2006&weekNumber=1&seasonType=3&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Final (Jan. 9)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 7, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2006&weekNumber=1&seasonType=3&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Final (Jan. 9)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Eddie Pells, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200801010062 (6) USC 49, (13) Illinois 17] , Associated Press, January 1, 2008, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Prior to the 2007 season, the Trojans were ranked No. 1 in all national pre-season polls and were expected to challenge for the National Championship. [Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/stewart_mandel/01/16/early07.rankings/index.html Early look at '07] , CNNSI.com, January 16, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] [Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=2738142 Trojans, Wolverines top revised look at 2007] , ESPN.com, January 22, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] [Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=2776460 Look for USC, West Virginia to play in '07 title game] , ESPN.com, February 23, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] [Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/stewart_mandel/04/24/spring.power.rankings/index.html Rights of spring] , CNNSI.com, April 24, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] The team received a boost in the offseason when many draft-eligible juniors decided to return to school for their senior seasons; the holdover of talented veterans was a major factor in the Trojans being considered preeminent favorites for a national championship. As expected, USC was at the top of the first Coaches Poll of the season, released on August 3, 2007, with 45 of a possible 60 first-place votes; other teams receiving first-place votes were No. 2 Louisiana State University (LSU) with 4 votes, No. 3 Florida with 6 votes, and No. 5 Michigan with 2 votes. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2959891 USC is No. 1, trailed by SEC foes LSU and Florida] , ESPN.com, August 3, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] USC was also at the top of the first AP Poll, released on August 18, with 62 of 65 first-place votes, with No. 2 LSU receiving 2 votes and No. 3 West Virginia receiving one. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2980349 USC is AP's overwhemling preseason No. 1] , Associated Press, August 18, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] In mid-August, all twelve experts polled by ESPN picked USC to win the season's BCS Championship Game. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview07/news/story?id=2971673 USC consensus favorite to win BCS championship] , ESPN.com, August 14, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] On August 29, 2007, the day before the season began, three of four experts at SI.com predicted USC would win the BCS Championship Game, attributing the decision to the Trojans defense.Stewart Mandel, Luke Winn, Cory McCartney and Austin Murphy, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/football/ncaa/specials/preview/2007/08/29/crystal.ball/index.html The Crystal Ball] , SI.com, August 29, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

In terms of overall talent, Carroll stated that the 2007 squad is the "most competitive team we've had" during his six-year tenure as coach.Bill Plaschke, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/may/25/sports/sp-plaschke25 Talent pool has never been deeper for Trojans] , "Los Angeles Times", May 25, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Senior starting quarterback John David Booty entered the season as a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.Gene Menez, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/gene_menez/04/24/spring.heisman.watch/index.html Heisman Watch: Early fix] , CNNSI.com, April 24, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Booty, along with returning senior tackle Sam Baker, were ranked as two of the "Top 20 Players Heading Into 2007" by "Sports Illustrated". [ [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0704/gallery.cfb.top20.players.for.07/content.16.html Top 20 Players Heading Into 2007] , CNNSI.com, April 24, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

The Trojans entered pre-season fall camp well stocked at the running back position, with 10 former high school Super Prep All-Americans, nine of whom were Prep Star all-Americans and seven were Parade all-Americans.Lee Jenkins, [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/sports/ncaafootball/26usc.html In U.S.C.’s Full Backfield, Student Body Right Has a New Meaning] , "The New York Times", August 26, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] The exceptional running back situation at USC was a major factor in "Sports Illustrated" forecasting the 2007 season as "The Year of the Running Back."Austin Murphy, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/football/ncaa/specials/preview/2007/08/14/running.backs0820/ The Year of the Running Back] , "Sports Illustrated", August 14, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] In judging USC as a pre-season favorite, particular emphasis was made on the defense. Considered to be one of the best defenses during the 2006 season, the Trojans entered 2007 with 10 returning starters and key backups. After a one-season experiment with the 3-4 defense formation, the defense returned to using the 4-3. The highlight of the defense was the linebacking corp, led by Brian Cushing, Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga.Arash Markazi, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/arash_markazi/08/14/usc.postcard/index.html Postcard from camp: USC] , SI.com, August 14, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] [Barker Davis, [http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070828/SPORTS/108280077/1005 The best defense ever assembled?] , "Washington Times", August 28, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

At the Pacific-10 Conference media day, the Trojans were the unanimous pre-season pick to win the conference; this was USC's fifth year in a row as the favorite to win the conference title, and only the third time in conference history that a team had been picked unanimously (the other two were USC in 2004 and 2005).Eric Sondheimer, Gary Klein, Chris Foster, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jul/27/sports/sp-pacmedia27 Pac-10 coaches come not to bury the Trojans but praise them] , "Los Angeles Times", July 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2950724 Trojans top preseason poll for fifth straight year] , Associated Press, July 26, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

Recruiting class

USC's stellar recruiting class was highlighted by the three highest ranked players from the "ESPN 150": No. 1 Joe McKnight (RB); No. 2 Chris Galippo (LB); and No. 3 Marc Tyler (RB). [ [http://insider.espn.go.com/ncf/recruiting/tracker/espn150?season=2007 The ESPN 150] , ESPN.com, February 28, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] The Trojans also landed Scout.com's National Player of the Year and top overall prospect for 2007, Everson Griffen. [ [http://recruiting.scout.com/2/616442.html Griffen Headlines All-Americans] , Scout.com, February 6, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Other notable signees included Rivals.com's No. 1 WR Ronald Johnson and 5-star OL Kristofer O'Dowd. Despite recruiting substantially fewer players than other programs, USC signed the No. 1 or No. 2 recruiting class in various rankings, along with the Florida Gators, the winners of the 2006 National Championship. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/recruiting/news/story?id=2757802 McKnight pushes USC to the top] , Scout.com/ESPN.com, March 7, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] [ [http://rivals100.rivals.com/TeamRank.asp?postype=0&sort=0&year=2007 2007 Team Ranking] , Rivals.com, February 12, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] In the pre-season, McKnight and Johnson were named two of the top-10 impact freshman for 2007.Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=2912876 Illinois' Benn, ND's Clausen impact newcomers for 2007] , ESPN.com, June 22, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

The football program received 18 letters of intent on National Signing Day, February 7, 2007, listed below:College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Joe McKnight
position = RB
hometown = River Ridge, LA
highschool = John Curtis Christian HS
feet = 6
inches = 0
weight = 195
40 = 4.35
commitdate = February 7, 2007
scout stars = 5
rivals stars = 5
espn grade = 92
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Everson Griffen
position = DE
hometown = Avondale, AZ
highschool = Agua Fria Union HS
feet = 6
inches = 4
weight = 270
40 = 4.46
commitdate = December 20, 2006
scout stars = 5
rivals stars = 5
espn grade = 83
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Ronald Johnson
position = WR
hometown = Muskegon, MI
highschool = Muskegon HS
feet = 6
inches = 0
weight = 185
40 = 4.40
commitdate = February 4, 2007
scout stars = 5
rivals stars = 5
espn grade = 82
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Chris Galippo
position = LB
hometown = Anaheim, CA
highschool = Servite HS
feet = 6
inches = 3
weight = 240
40 = 4.60
commitdate = February 1, 2006
scout stars = 5
rivals stars = 5
espn grade = 90
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Marc Tyler
position = RB
hometown = Westlake Village, CA
highschool = Oaks Christian HS
feet = 6
inches = 0
weight = 215
40 = 4.50
commitdate = June 14, 2006
scout stars = 5
rivals stars = 5
espn grade = 90
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Kristofer O'Dowd
position = C
hometown = Tucson, AZ
highschool = Salpointe Catholic HS
feet = 6
inches = 5
weight = 315
40 = 5.00
commitdate = December 14, 2006
scout stars = 5
rivals stars = 5
espn grade = 79
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Aaron Corp
position = QB
hometown = Villa Park, CA
highschool = Orange Lutheran HS
feet = 6
inches = 4
weight = 195
40 = 4.60
commitdate = May 3, 2006
scout stars = 5
rivals stars = 4
espn grade = 82
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Marshall Jones
position = FS
hometown = Westlake Village, CA
highschool = Oaks Christian HS
feet = 6
inches = 1
weight = 190
40 = 4.50
commitdate = June 19, 2006
scout stars = 5
rivals stars = 4
espn grade = 84
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Da'John Harris
position = DT
hometown = Gardena, CA
highschool = Junipero Serra HS
feet = 6
inches = 4
weight = 280
40 = 4.85
commitdate = January 4, 2007
scout stars = 5
rivals stars = 4
espn grade = 79
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Martin Coleman
position = OT
hometown = Huntington Beach, CA
highschool = Edison HS
feet = 6
inches = 6
weight = 290
40 = 4.80
commitdate = April 25, 2006
scout stars = 5
rivals stars = 4
espn grade = 81
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Michael Reardon
position = DE
hometown = Villa Park, CA
highschool = Orange Lutheran HS
feet = 6
inches = 6
weight = 260
40 = 4.70
commitdate = June 14, 2006
scout stars = 4
rivals stars = 4
espn grade = 78
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Malcolm Smith
position = ATH
hometown = Woodland Hills, CA
highschool = Taft HS
feet = 6
inches = 2
weight = 215
40 = 4.45
commitdate = January 26, 2007
scout stars = 4
rivals stars = 4
espn grade = 78
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Broderick Green
position = RB
hometown = Little Rock, AR
highschool = Pulaski Academy
feet = 6
inches = 2
weight = 230
40 = 4.57
commitdate = February 7, 2007
scout stars = 4
rivals stars = 4
espn grade = 76
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Brandon Carswell
position = WR
hometown = Milpitas, CA
highschool = Milpitas HS
feet = 6
inches = 1
weight = 180
40 = 4.50
commitdate = December 16, 2006
scout stars = 4
rivals stars = 4
espn grade = 76
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Jordan Campbell
position = LB
hometown = Norco, CA
highschool = Norco HS
feet = 5
inches = 11
weight = 230
40 = 4.60
commitdate = October 17, 2006
scout stars = 4
rivals stars = 4
espn grade = 73
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Christian Tupou
position = DT
hometown = Sacramento, CA
highschool = Grant Union HS
feet = 6
inches = 3
weight = 275
40 = 4.80
commitdate = February 5, 2007
scout stars = 3
rivals stars = 4
espn grade = 73
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Rhett Ellison
position = TE
hometown = Mountain View, CA
highschool = Saint Francis HS
feet = 6
inches = 5
weight = 235
40 = 4.65
commitdate = February 6, 2007
scout stars = 3
rivals stars = 3
espn grade = 76
College Athlete Recruit Entry
recruit = Trey Henderson
position = DE
hometown = Vancouver, BC
highschool = Vancouver College Prep
feet = 6
inches = 3
weight = 270
40 = 4.90
commitdate = February 4, 2007
scout stars = 3
rivals stars = 3
espn grade = 40
College Athlete Recruit End
40 = yes
year = 2007
rivals ref title = Southern Cal Commit List for 2007
scout ref title = Scout.com Football Recruiting: USC
espn ref title = RecruitTracker 2007: USC
rivals school = 71
scout s = 15
espn schoolid = 30
scout overall = #2
rivals overall = #2
collapse = no
accessdate = 2007-02-07

Transfers

In May, the Trojans were joined by former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain, who was a 8–0 win/loss record as a starter during his freshman (and only) year with the team. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2878185 Mustain will be eligible to play for USC in '08] , Associated Press, May 21, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Mustain joined fellow Arkansas teammate and wide receiver Damian Williams, who transferred from Arkansas before the 2006 bowl season. Due to NCAA transfer rules all would be unable to compete until 2008, although they would be allowed on the scout team. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2878185 Mustain will be eligible to play for USC in '08] , Associated Press, May 21, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

In early summer, Jordan Cameron, a former freshman basketball player from Brigham Young University, also transferred to USC to play football as a wide receiver. [http://www.cstv.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/usc/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/07-newcomers 2007 USC Trojans Football Media Guide (Section 3)] , USC Athletic Department, July 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] However, when USC refused to accept some of Cameron's credits from Brigham Young, he was forced to withdraw and attend Ventura College. He missed the football season but was given the option to try and rejoin the team in 2008. Even if he had stayed at USC, due to NCAA transfer rules he would have been ineligible to play in 2007.Scott Wolf, [http://www.sbsun.com/sports/ci_6474499 Trojans busy counting scholarships] , "San Bernardino Sun", July 26, 2007, Accessed July 26, 2007.]

With the late 2006 dismissal of Troy Van Blarcom (academics) and the death of Mario Danelo, USC was left with only one experienced kicker:Garry Paskwietz, [http://wearesc.com/news/story.php?article=100 Trojans add JC kicker] , WeAreSC.com, July 23, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] David Buehler, a 2006 junior college transfer from Santa Ana College who competed mainly at fullback and safety, but was used for one successful field goal attempt the previous season.Mark Saxon, [http://www.ocregister.com/sports/buehler-kicker-danelo-1819399-football-year USC mid-day: More Buehler] , "The Orange County Register", August 23, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] In July 2007, Joe Houston, a junior college kicker from El Camino College, joined the team as a "preferred walk-on", guaranteed a non-scholarship spot on the team.Garry Paskwietz, [http://wearesc.com/news/story.php?article=100 Trojans add JC kicker] , WeAreSC.com, July 23, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] As a junior college transfer, Houston would be able to play for the Trojans immediately. USC also recruited former University of Nebraska kicker, Jordan Congdon, who was not eligible for the 2007 season; and Brad Smith, formerly of Davidson College. Smith was able to play immediately under an NCAA rule that permits non-scholarship players who have already received a degree to transfer once with immediate eligibility.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/12/sports/sp-uscrep12 Sanchez is trying to remain positive] , "Los Angeles Times", August 12, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Departures

Following the 2006 season, several players graduated, including starting senior All-Americans Steve Smith (wide receiver) and Ryan Kalil (center), as well as all-conference linebackers Dallas Sartz and Oscar Lua. Junior All-American Dwayne Jarrett, who was their leading receiver in 2005 and 2006, renounced his eligibility and joined the NFL.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jan/11/sports/sp-jarrett11 NFL challenge next for Jarrett] , "Los Angeles Times", January 11, 2007, Accessed August 4, 2008.]

The Trojans entered fall training camp with a high number of scholarship running backs (10), all of whom were highly touted recruits. In August, midway through camp, running back Emmanuel Moody announced he was leaving USC.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/16/sports/sp-uscrep16 Tailback Moody to transfer] , "Los Angeles Times", August 16, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Moody, who was the second-leading rusher in the 2006 season, had gained 458 yards on 79 carries in a rotating platoon of running backs in 2006 and had recently been one of three USC running backs appearing on the regional cover of "Sports Illustrated"'s college football preview edition.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/17/sports/sp-usc17 Off the Deep End] , "Los Angeles Times", August 17, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/16/sports/sp-uscrep16 Tailback Moody to transfer] , "Los Angeles Times", August 16, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Injuries had limited his playing and practice time: he suffered an ankle injury that caused him to miss the team's last four games of the 2006 season, then missed almost all of spring practice due to a hamstring injury. Halfway through the summer training camp, Moody bruised his knee and was forced to stop practicing. He wished to be a featured player and stated he had "felt forgotten" coming into training camp due to his recent lack of playing and practice time.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/17/sports/sp-usc17 Off the Deep End] , "Los Angeles Times", August 17, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] After looking at several schools, including Oklahoma State and North Carolina, Moody transferred to the University of Florida.Joe Schad, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2992872 Moody says he will transfer to Gator country] , ESPN.com, August 27, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

At about the same time, backup receiver and redshirt freshman Jamere Holland was dismissed from the team, although not for any violation of team rules. He was allowed to stay on scholarship for the year. Holland redshirted the previous season after breaking his collarbone, reinjured it during spring practice and had clashed with coaches during his return to fall camp.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/20/sports/sp-uscrep20 Holland kicked off team] , "Los Angeles Times", August 20, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/21/sports/sp-uscrep21 Carroll dismisses 2006 recruit Holland] , "Los Angeles Times", August 21, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Offseason news

On January 6, 2007, Shortly after the Trojans ended their 2006 season with a win at the 2007 Rose Bowl, two-year starting placekicker Mario Danelo was found dead at the bottom of a cliff in San Pedro, California. Danelo had been expected to start during the 2007 season. For the 2007 season, USC players wore a #19 sticker on their helmets in honor of Danelo; in addition the Kennedy-Jones practice field had the number "19" sprayed onto its end zones and the Coliseum hung a banner above the player's tunnel with Danelo's name and also paid tribute to him on the goal-post pads.Scott Wolf, [http://www.dailynews.com/sports/ci_6603945 USC freshman end Griffen gains reputation] , "Daily News", August 12, 2007, "Accessed August 12, 2007".] Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/mar/26/sports/sp-uscfb26 Danelo's parents visit during practice] , "Los Angeles Times", March 26, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The Trojans lost their offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin, on January 23, 2007, when he was hired to be the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders; the 31-year-old Kiffin became the youngest head coach in Raiders history, and the youngest head coach since the formation of the modern NFL. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/raiders/2007-01-22-kiffin-hiring_x.htm Raiders tab USC's Lane Kiffin to be next head coach] , Associated Press, January 22, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] The following week, Pete Carroll named Steve Sarkisian as his team's new offensive coordinator. Sarkisian had interviewed with the Raiders for their vacant head coach position but withdrew from the process to stay at USC, where he had been the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach. [Steve Corkran, [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20070119/ai_n17146773 Sarkisian turns down Raiders offer] , "Oakland Tribune", January 19, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

Intra-conference controversy arose in March 2007, when Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh was quoted as saying " [Pete Carroll] 's only got one more year, though. He'll be there one more year. That's what I've heard. I heard it inside the staff." Upon further questions, Harbaugh claimed he had heard it from staff at USC.Ted Miller, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2828014 Spring look around the Pac-10] , ESPN.com, April 6, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] At the Pac-10 Conference media day (July 26, 2007), Harbaugh praised the Trojans, stating "There is no question in my mind that USC is the best team in the country and may be the best team in the history of college football"; the declaration, especially in light of his earlier comment, garnered more media attention. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2950724 Trojans top preseason poll for fifth straight year] , Associated Press, July 26, 2007.] Eric Sondheimer, Gary Klein, Chris Foster, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jul/27/sports/sp-pacmedia27 Pac-10 coaches come not to bury the Trojans but praise them] , "Los Angeles Times", July 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Pat Forde, [http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=2950530&sportCat=ncf Harbaugh declaration delivers Pac-10 jolt] , ESPN.com, July 27, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

In early July, LSU coach Les Miles stirred inter-conference controversy when he publicly criticized USC's 2007 schedule in front of LSU boosters; though the two schools had not played each other since 1984, the LSU Tiger faithful maintained a strong grudge against the Trojans after they shared the national title in the controversial 2003 season.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/stewart_mandel/07/06/miles.usc/index.html Better Les unsaid] , SI.com, July 6, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] LSU and Michigan were ranked as the pre-season No. 2 team in various polls. Coincidentally, by week five of the 2007 season, there were questions as to whether USC's schedule was actually harder than LSU's, given their opponents' early-season performances.Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=3033817 Script might be flipped for SEC, Pac-10 for this season] , ESPN.com, September 24, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Ted Miller, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3057109 Looks good on paper, but Pac-10 midseason arrives with thud] , ESPN.com, October 10, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

chedule

The 2007 Trojans schedule was ranked the 8th hardest in the country.Steve Megargee, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/football/ncaa/06/19/schedules.top25/index.html Top 25 toughest schedules] , SI.com/Rivals.com, June 21, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Before the season, the road schedule was ranked as the 6th toughest.Steve Megargee, [http://collegefootball.rivals.com/content.asp?cid=682063 Road to glory will be tough one for Seminoles] , Rivals.com, June 12, 2007, Accessed August 19, 2008.] Within the Pac-10, the schedule ranked as the 2nd toughest.David Fox, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/football/ncaa/06/19/schedules.pac10/index.html Pac-10 schedule rankings] , SI.com/Rivals.com, June 21, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 9/1/2007
nonconf = yes
time = 7:15 p.m.
rank = 1
opprank =
opponent = Idaho
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
tv = FSN
score = 38–10
attend = 90,917
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 9/15/2007
nonconf = yes
time = 5:00 p.m.
rank = 1
away = yes
opprank = 14
opponent = Nebraska
site_stadium = Memorial Stadium
site_cityst = Lincoln, NE
tv = ABC
score = 49–31
attend = 84,959
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 9/22/2007
time = 5:00 p.m.
rank = 1
opprank =
opponent = Washington State
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
tv = ABC
score = 47–14
attend = 86,876
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 9/29/2007
time = 5:00 p.m.
rank = 1
away = yes
opprank =
opponent = Washington
site_stadium = Husky Stadium
site_cityst = Seattle, WA
tv = ABC
score = 27–24
attend = 68,654
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = l
date = 10/6/2007
homecoming =
time = 4:00 p.m.
rank = 1
opprank =
opponent = Stanford
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
gamename =
tv = Versus
score = 23–24
attend = 85,125
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 10/13/2007
homecoming =
time = 12:30 p.m.
rank = 7
opprank =
opponent = Arizona
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
gamename =
tv = ABC
score = 20–13
attend = 84,671
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 10/20/2007
nonconf = yes
time = 12:30 p.m.
rank = 9
away = yes
opprank =
opponent = Notre Dame
site_stadium = Notre Dame Stadium
site_cityst = South Bend, IN
gamename =
tv = NBC
score = 38–0
attend = 80,795
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = l
date = 10/27/2007
time = 12:00 p.m.
rank = 8
away = yes
opprank = 5
opponent = Oregon
site_stadium = Autzen Stadium
site_cityst = Eugene, OR
gamename =
tv = FSN
score = 17–24
attend = 59,277
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 11/3/2007
homecoming = yes
time = 5:00 p.m.
rank = 15
opprank =
opponent = Oregon State
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
gamename =
tv = ABC
score = 24–3
attend = 85,713
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 11/10/2007
time = 5:00 p.m.
rank = 15
away = yes
opprank = 24
opponent = California
site_stadium = California Memorial Stadium
site_cityst = Berkeley, CA
gamename =
tv = ABC
score = 24–17
attend = 72,516
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 11/22/2007
time = 5:00 p.m.
rank = 12
away = yes
opprank = 6
opponent = Arizona State
site_stadium = Sun Devil Stadium
site_cityst = Tempe, AZ
gamename =
tv = ESPN
score = 44–24
attend = 71,706
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 12/1/2007
homecoming =
time = 1:30 p.m.
rank = 9
opprank =
opponent = UCLA
site_stadium = Los Angeles Coliseum
site_cityst = Los Angeles, CA
gamename =
tv = ABC
score = 24–7
attend = 91,553
CFB Schedule Entry
w/l = w
date = 1/1/2008
homecoming =
time = 1:30 p.m.
rank = 6
opprank = 13
opponent = Illinois
site_stadium = Rose Bowl
site_cityst = Pasadena, CA
gamename = Rose Bowl Game
tv = ABC
score = 49–17
attend = 93,293

Roster

Coaching staff

Game notes

Idaho

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Vandals
R1=0
R2=3
R3=0
R4=7
Home=Trojans
H1=14
H2=7
H3=17
H4=0
USC opened its season hosting the University of Idaho Vandals of the Western Athletic Conference, under first year coach Robb Akey. Trojans Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt had previously been the head coach of the Idaho Vandals between 2004–2005; before that he was USC's linebackers coach from 2001 to 2003 under Carroll. The game was scheduled in 2005 during Holt's tenure with the Vandals.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/27/sports/sp-uscrep27 Holt set up game and switched sides] , "Los Angeles Times", August 27, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] After Holt's sudden departure in 2005, Idaho tried to get out of the game; the Vandals athletic program received $600,000 for their appearance in the game.Matt Baney, [http://www.lmtribune.com/archived-story/Sports/358355/ About to renew acquaintances] , "Lewiston Tribune", August 29, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] The last time the Vandals played USC, in 1929, they were in the same conference, the Pacific Coast Conference, where USC dominated the Vandals, winning all seven games between 1922–1929 by a combined score of 215–20. [http://www.cstv.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/usc/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/07-history 2007 USC Trojans Football Media Guide (Section 5)] , USC Athletic Department, July 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] USC entered the 2007 contest as six-touchdown favorites.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/27/sports/sp-uscrep27 Holt set up game and switched sides] , "Los Angeles Times", August 27, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

USC controlled the game, but did not exert the level of domination expected.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/02/sports/sp-usc2 Sputter step for USC] , "Los Angeles Times", September 2, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] After taking a 21–0 lead into the second quarter, the offense showed signs of sputtering; the second teams took over for the 4th quarter. Booty completed 21 of 32 passes for 206 yards, threw for three touchdowns and one interception; though he did not convert on a fourth down play in short yardage and was unable to find a rhythm.Bill Plaschke, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/02/sports/sp-plaschke2 the season could be a blast] , "Los Angeles Times", September 2, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Primary receiver Patrick Turner was held out of the game to recover from a stinger received in the previous week's practice; cornerback Josh Pinkard was also held out to recover from knee soreness. As a result, young receivers David Ausberry and Vidal Hazelton handled the primary wide receiver duties.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/02/sports/sp-usc2 Sputter step for USC] , "Los Angeles Times", September 2, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] The highlight of the Trojans offense was the running game, which rushed for 214 yards while Idaho was held to 98. The role was run by committee: with the debut of redshirt freshman Stafon Johnson (64 yards in 12 carries, two touchdown runs), who scored the first touchdown of the game, as well as C.J. Gable (68 yards in eight carries, one touchdown reception), who made an impressive 33-yard run, and fullback Stanley Havili who made several receptions, including one for a touchdown. The game marked the debut of USC true freshman running back Joe McKnight, who made a spectacular run in the third quarter that was likened to those of predecessor Reggie Bush.Bill Plaschke, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/02/sports/sp-plaschke2 With these tailbacks, this season could be a blast] , "Los Angeles Times", September 2, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Kristofer O'Dowd became the first true freshman to start at center for the Trojans due to an injury to Matt Spanos, earning positive reviews for his performance.Eric Sondheimer, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/02/sports/sp-uscside2 He is the center of attention] , "Los Angeles Times", September 2, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/03/sports/sp-uscrep3 Opener goes as expected] , "Los Angeles Times", September 3, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Although the defense did not cause many turnovers and lost key linebacker Brian Cushing to an ankle sprain in the first quarter, it met enough expectations to remain ranked among the top defenses in the country.Bruce Feldman, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=feldman_bruce&id=3003092 LSU, Virginia Tech should be great defensive matchup] , "ESPN the Magazine", September 3, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

In honor of Trojans kicker Mario Danelo, who died just after the 2006 season, a special ceremony was held before the beginning of the game. Also, after scoring its first touchdown, USC intentionally lined up for the PAT without a kicker in tribute to their late teammate, taking a 5-yard delay of game penalty before David Buehler came on the field to kick the extra point.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/02/sports/sp-uscrep2 Danelo is paid a tribute] , "Los Angeles Times", September 2, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] The moment was chosen by ESPN as one of the Pac-10's Top 10 Moments Of BCS Era.Ted Miller, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3406111 Trojans had no BCS peer once Carroll arrived] , ESPN.com, May 22, 2008, Accessed May 22, 2008.]

At Nebraska

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Trojans
R1=7
R2=14
R3=21
R4=7
Home=Cornhuskers
H1=7
H2=3
H3=0
H4=21
After a bye week, the Trojans visited the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Nebraska. In the pre-season, the game was named as one of the candidates for the 10 most important games of 2007. For the Huskers, the game was especially critical to their hopes of showing progress under 4th year head coach Bill Callahan.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/stewart_mandel/06/21/10.games/index.html Momentous matchups] , SI.com, June 21, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] David Duffey, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview07/news/story?id=2975519 Don't miss these nonconference games in 2007] , ESPN.com, August 15, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] The game marks the first time a No. 1-ranked team has visited Lincoln since 1978. [http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=1200&u_sid=10129102 Guest List: Huskers' toughest opponents in Memorial Stadium] , "Omaha World-Herald", September 11, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Because of the game's significance, ESPN "College GameDay" chose it as the site of its weekly broadcast. [http://www.huskers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=1&SPID=22&DB_OEM_ID=100&ATCLID=1210857 Live from Lincoln . . . ESPN’s College GameDay] , Huskers.com, September 9, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

Callahan had been criticized for his conservative play-calling during the 2006 game in Los Angeles; instead of playing to win, it appeared the Huskers were playing to not get blown out by the then-favored Trojans. In that game the normally prolific West Coast offense of Nebraska, which had produced 541 yards a game, was corralled on the ground and attempted only 17 passes in a 28–10 Husker loss. For 2007, Callahan pledged to play more aggressively, using running back Marlon Lucky and quarterback Sam Keller.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/15/sports/sp-usc15 USC vs. the Red Sea] , "Los Angeles Times", September 15, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] Keller, the Huskers redshirt senior starting quarterback, was a 2006 transfer from Arizona State; as a Sun Devil Keller started the first seven games of his 2005 junior season, throwing for 2,165 yards, before a disastrous game against USC where, after leading ASU to a 21–3 halftime lead, he and the offense fell apart on the way to a 38–28 loss where he was sacked five times and threw five interceptions.Carolyn Braff, [http://www.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/stories/082107aak.html Running A Reverse] , CSTV.com, August 21, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] Due to NCAA transfer rules, Keller spent the 2006 season on the Huskers' scout team.

The Trojans stayed in nearby Omaha and practiced at a local high school; Carroll took the rare step of closing practice to outsiders after a local radio station announced the location.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/15/sports/sp-uscrep15 Trojans have a hidden agenda in enemy territory] , "Los Angeles Times", September 15, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] The game marked the return of primary receiver Patrick Turner and running back Chauncey Washington from injury; linebacker Brian Cushing, who injured his ankle early against Idaho, had not fully recovered but was allowed to suit-up as a reserve.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/14/sports/sp-uscrep14 Receivers eager to play on big stage] , "Los Angeles Times", September 14, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] Senior center Matt Spanos remained injured, and true freshman Kris O'Dowd was called to start again. Veteran secondary member Josh Pinkard was lost for the season after his sore knee gave out during a bye week practice, resulting in a torn ACL requiring surgery.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/12/sports/sp-uscrep12 Pinkard to again miss the season] , "Los Angeles Times", September 12, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.]

Anticipation for the game was high in Lincoln, fueling strong demand for tickets and accommodations; the game brought celebrities including USC fans Will Ferrell (also an alumnus) and Keanu Reeves, Nebraska fans Larry the Cable Guy, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, and Ward Connerly; past Husker Heisman-winner Mike Rozier, Trojans Heisman-winner Marcus Allen and star Trojans safety Ronnie Lott were also on hand for the game.David Wharton, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/15/sports/sp-lincoln15 Nowhere becomes somewhere] , "Los Angeles Times", September 15, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] [Jason Siffring, [http://bigrednetwork.com/archives/2007/09/view_from_the_sideline_usc_vs.html View from the Sideline: USC vs Nebraska] , Big Red Network, September 17, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] [Rush Limbaugh, [http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_091707/content/01125107.guest.html.guest.html Rush Recounts His Trip to Lincoln] , www.rushlimbaugh.com, September 17, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] The game fell on Pete Carroll's 56th birthday; as a surprise, Carroll was treated to a recorded message by actor Kiefer Sutherland, star of his favorite television show, "24".Ben Malcolmson, [http://www.petecarroll.com/index.cfm/pk/view/cd/NAA/cdid/400829/pid/400654 A surprise birthday present] , USCRipsIt.com, September 15, 2007, Accessed August 18, 2008.] The morning recording of "College GameDay" attracted 13,293 fans, second to the all-time record of 15,808 set by Nebraska in 2001.Mitch Sherman, [http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=1200&u_sid=10131776 NU players, fans excited for GameDay] , "Omaha World-Herald", September 14, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] With 84,959 in attendance, Nebraska recorded its NCAA-record 284th consecutive home sellout dating back to 1962.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/15/sports/sp-usc15 USC vs. the Red Sea] , "Los Angeles Times", September 15, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.]

USC dominated the game 49–31, in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated: the Trojans led 42–10 going into the fourth quarter; Nebraska scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes during garbage time.Ivan Maisel, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=3022344 Lincoln log: USC makes style statement in running past Huskers] , ESPN.com, September 15, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] The Trojans dominated on the ground, as they out-gained Nebraska 313–31 in rushing yards and averaged 8.2 yards per carry, the most ever against a Nebraska team. [Terry Bowden, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/news?slug=tb-folo091707 Sweet 16: Five alive] , Yahoo! Sports, September 17, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] Stafon Johnson led USC running backs with a career-best 144 yards in 11 carries with one touchdown; other major contributors were C.J. Gable (69 yards in four carries, including a 40 yard run), Washington (43 yards in 12 carries with two touchdowns), and another versatile performance by fullback Stanley Havili (52 rushing yards in two rushes with one touchdown, and three pass receptions for 22 yards with one touchdown). The Trojans passing game again did not find a rhythm, with several dropped passes, but the defense was able to frustrate the Husker offense for most of the game and cause two pivotal 3rd quarter interceptions.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/16/sports/sp-usc16 A USC haymaker] , "Los Angeles Times", September 16, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] David Wharton, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/16/sports/sp-uscside16 USC finds lots of running room] , "Los Angeles Times", September 16, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] David Wharton and Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/18/sports/sp-uscrep18 Johnson goes the extra yards] , "Los Angeles Times", September 16, 2007, Accessed August 15, 2008.]

The Trojans did not escape injuries, as linebacker Clay Matthews, substituting for the recovering Brian Cushing, broke his thumb, causing Cushing to enter the game as his replacement. The Trojans also suffered two injuries on kick returns: fullback Alfred Rowe suffered a mild concussion, and there was a moment of worry when returner Vincent Joseph, after being tackled and fumbling the ball, lay on the turf for over 10 minutes before being removed by stretcher with a bruised larynx and a neck sprain, but no serious injuries.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/18/sports/sp-uscrep18 Injury scary but not serious for Joseph] , "Los Angeles Times", September 18, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] David Wharton and Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/18/sports/sp-uscrep18 Johnson goes the extra yards ] , "Los Angeles Times", September 16, 2007, Accessed August 15, 2008.] Linebacker Rey Maualuga was flagged during a field goal attempt for the rarely called penalty of "disconcerting", which is given for "words or signals that disconcert opponents when they are preparing to put the ball in play". [Ivan Maisel, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/notebook?page=iform074 Dome dispute, directional debate and gurus gone bad] , ESPN.com, September 19, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] Vahl Gregorian, [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/sports/ncaafootball/16nebraska.html Trojans Leave No Doubts by Taking It to Cornhuskers] , "The New York Times", September 16, 2007, Accessed July 10, 2008.] NCAA Football Rule 7-1, Article 5(a)(3): "No player shall use words or signals that disconcert opponents when they are preparing to put the ball in play. No player may call defensive signals that simulate the sound or cadence of (or otherwise interfere with) offensive starting signals." [http://www.ncaapublications.com/Uploads/PDF/Football_Rulesadc982b5-03fb-4e27-828c-c2d26b95e6c1.pdf 2008 NCAA® FOOTBALL RULES AND INTERPRETATIONS] , National Collegiate Athletic Association, Page 99, Accessed August 4, 2008.]

After losing first place votes in the polls during the bye week, USC's performance regained six after their performance against the Huskers in a hostile environment. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?pollId=1&seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=4 2007 NCAA Football Rankings - Week 3 (Sept. 16)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Receiving specific praise was the Trojans offensive line, as well as the continued poise and ability of freshman center O'Dowd.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/stewart_mandel/09/16/usc.nebraska/index.html Ground greatness] , SI.com, September 16, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] Bill Plaschke, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/16/sports/sp-plaschke16 Trojans make a bold statement in the heartland] , "Los Angeles Times", September 16, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] Bruce Feldman, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=feldman_bruce&id=3024137 OU's Bradford has been season's biggest surprise] , "ESPN The Magazine", September 17, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.]

Washington State

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Cougars
R1=7
R2=0
R3=7
R4=0
Home=Trojans
H1=14
H2=13
H3=13
H4=7

USC opened Pac-10 conference play by hosting the Washington State Cougars. Entering the game, Trojans quarterback John David Booty and the receiver corp remained unproven after an uninspiring performance against Idaho and a run-dominated game against Nebraska. Hoping to take advantage, Washington State elected to go into the game using a man-to-man pass coverage to allow more focus on stopping the Trojans running game.Lonnie White, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/22/sports/spw-xandos22 Washington State's man-to-man gamble] , "Los Angeles Times", September 22, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] The Cougars had given the then-No. 3 Trojans a scare in their 2006 meeting, with the game coming down to the final seconds.Gregg Bell, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200609300066 (3) USC 28, Washington St. 22] , Associated Press, October 1, 2006, Accessed July 2, 2008.]

In the end, USC routed the Cougars 47–14, with a primarily aerial attack. Booty reestablished his presence, completing 28 of 35 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter. Tight end Fred Davis had a career night with nine receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns.John Nadel, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200709220062 (1) USC 47, Washington St. 14] , Associated Press, September 22, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] Davis' performance marked the most yards receiving ever in a game by a Trojans tight end.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/24/sports/sp-uscrep24 USC rewind and fast forward] , "Los Angeles Times", September 24, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] The Trojans' first offensive drive set the tone with 13 plays, 83 yards and a touchdown on fourth down; mostly coming from the air.Lonnie White, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/23/sports/spw-xandos23 USC gets aggressive on offense and it pays off] , "Los Angeles Times", September 22, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] Receivers Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton were able to find a groove and make plays after sputtering against Nebraska. In the rushing game, Chauncey Washington started and rushed for 84 of USC's 207 yards. Stafon Johnson, who led the Trojans ground game against Nebraska, had nine carries and finished with 48 yards. Joe McKnight also got his first extended work and gained 48 yards in seven carries. USC built a 27–7 halftime lead and then scored on its first three possessions in the second half. The Trojans defense kept the Cougars in check, putting pressure on quarterback Alex Brink and limiting Washington State to 64 yards rushing.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/23/sports/sp-usc23 Slinging a different tune] , "Los Angeles Times", September 23, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.]

Junior cornerback Cary Harris dislocated his right shoulder during the game and was replaced by Shareece Wright. Linebacker Brian Cushing reinjured the ankle he sprained in the opener against Idaho. Sixth-year senior running back Hershel Dennis played for the first time since the 2004 season during the fourth quarter, gaining 14 yards in four carries; he had sat out the two previous seasons due to injury.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/23/sports/sp-uscrep23 Secondary's latest casualty is Harris] , "Los Angeles Times", September 23, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.]

The victory continued the Trojans' domination of the series, 55–8–4; it also extended the record of top-ranked USC teams against the Cougars to 5–0.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/22/sports/sp-uscrep22 Johnson keeping his goals modest] , "Los Angeles Times", September 22, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] The game marked the first time it had ever rained during a USC game in September; as a result the attendance was 86,876, the first time in 16 home games that the Trojans failed to draw at least 90,000.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/23/sports/sp-uscrep23 Secondary's latest casualty is Harris] , "Los Angeles Times", September 23, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.] USC extended its home winning streak to 35 games.John Nadel, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200709220062 (1) USC 47, Washington St. 14] , Associated Press, September 22, 2007, Accessed July 2, 2008.]

At Washington

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Trojans
R1=0
R2=17
R3=7
R4=3
Home=Huskies
H1=0
H2=14
H3=0
H4=10
The Trojans played their first Pac-10 road game of the season, visiting the Washington Huskies, under coach Tyrone Willingham, at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. In 2006, the unranked Huskies gave No. 3 USC a scare; Isaiah Stanback led the Huskies to the USC 15 but were unable to get off a play before the final two seconds ticked off the clock, preserving a 26–20 USC victory.Ken Peters, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200610070062 (3) USC 26, Washington 20] , Associated Press, October 7, 2006, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The Huskies entered the game 0–6 when facing a number-one ranked USC team. [Don Ruiz, [http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-32968031_ITM Will Huskies find their future downfield?] (paid archive), "The News Tribune", September 25, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Going into the 2007 contest, Carroll expressed concern about containing the Huskies redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Locker, a dual-threat quarterback who led his team in passing and rushing.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/26/sports/sp-uscrep26 Mays happy about Seattle visit] , "Los Angeles Times", September 26, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The Huskies announced prior to the game that they would be wearing throwback uniforms: instead of their standard purple and gold, the Huskies wore dark blue and gold jerseys with plain, gold helmets; replicas of the 1960 team which beat No. 1 Minnesota in the Rose Bowl, still the only time Washington has beaten a top-ranked opponent.Gregg Bell, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200709290065 (1) USC 27, Washington 24] , Associated Press, September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

In a day where half of the week's top-10 teams were defeated, USC escaped becoming the sixth in a messy, mistake-prone 27–24 victory in a wet, windy game in Seattle. Although USC had a 460–190 edge in total yards, their errors helped the Huskies significantly; they committed three turnovers and 16 penalties—their most in more than two seasons—for 161 yards, missed a field goal and had a punt blocked.Gregg Bell, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200709290065 (1) USC 27, Washington 24] , Associated Press, September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] David Wharton, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/30/sports/sp-uscside30 Trojans able to win despite themselves] , "Los Angeles Times", September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] A disappointed Pete Carroll noted "We just couldn't do more things wrong in the game [. . .] I thought Washington was there for it. They were there to take it. All they needed was one more chance."Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/30/sports/sp-usc30 Trojans win on flag day] , "Los Angeles Times", September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

USC quarterback John David Booty completed 20 of 37 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown but had two interceptions, one of which was returned 54 yards for a touchdown tying the game at 14–14 in the second quarter. The Huskies gained momentum early in the fourth quarter when they came to within 24–17 and forced USC to punt; however, on the return, Terrell Thomas stripped the ball from Anthony Russo for a fumble and recovered at the Huskies' 43 yard line, setting up David Buehler's 33-yard field goal with 3:01 remaining. The Huskies did not give up, and blocked a USC punt with 1:15 left and scored on quarterback Jake Locker's one-yard run to pull to within three with 34 seconds left. On the ensuing onside kick, Thomas was able to recover the ball for USC, ending the game.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/30/sports/sp-usc30 Trojans win on flag day] , "Los Angeles Times", September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Washington quarterback Locker displayed the dual passing/running threat Carroll had expressed concern about, but also showed his youth with erratic passing, finishing 12-for-27 with 83 yards passing and one interception, plus another 50 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns. USC did have positive showings in the running game, with Stafon Johnson running for 122 yards and a touchdown and Chauncey Washington also adding 106 yards and a score.Gregg Bell, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200709290065 (1) USC 27, Washington 24] , Associated Press, September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] In the end, Carroll and the Trojans described the game as less a victory than an escape, a game where USC's raw athleticism took advantage of Washington's youth.Bill Plaschke, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/30/sports/sp-plaschke30 Trojans almost beat themselves but find a way to escape with victory] , "Los Angeles Times", September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The Trojans suffered numerous injuries during the game: starting freshman center Kristofer O'Dowd hurt his kneecap and guard Chilo Rachal sprained his knee on the same play in the first quarter; they were replaced by senior center Matt Spanos, who had just been cleared for play after tearing a triceps before the season, and reserve guard Alatini Malu. Starting cornerback Shareece Wright, in his first start after replacing the injured Cary Harris, sustained a pulled hamstring muscle and was replaced by Mozique McCurtis. Tailback Stafon Johnson suffered a foot injury and fellow tailback C.J. Gable dressed but did not play because of a groin injury suffered just before the trip to Washington.David Wharton and Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/30/sports/sp-uscrep30 Several players sustain injuries] , "Los Angeles Times", September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The game drew comparisons to USC's 33–31 loss to Oregon State the previous season.Ryan Divish, [http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-33015720_ITM ‘Horrid’ USC still somehow prevails] (paid archive), "The News Tribune", September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] [http://www.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/stories/093007acc.html After falling to No. 2, USC seeking an Oregon State-type wakeup] , Associated Press, September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] As a result of the close finish, USC lost the No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll, falling to No. 2 with 1,591 points and 32 first-place votes to LSU's 1,593 points and 33 first-place votes; however, the Trojans remained No. 1 in the Coaches Poll, keeping a more substantial lead: 1,483 points and 45 first-place votes to LSU's 1,454 points and 14 first-place votes. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankingsindex?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=6&seasonType=2 2007 NCAA Football Rankings - Week 5 (Sept. 30)] , ESPN.com, September 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

tanford

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Cardinal
R1=0
R2=0
R3=7
R4=17
Home=Trojans
H1=3
H2=6
H3=7
H4=7
USC continued Pac-10 play by hosting the struggling Stanford Cardinal, under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh. In a major upset, USC stumbled at home to the 41 point underdog, losing 24–23.

Harbaugh made headlines prior to the season by claiming 2007 would be Carroll's last year with USC before departing to the NFL, drawing a terse rebuke from Carroll; Harbaugh later called the 2007 Trojans one of the best teams in history at the Pac-10 Media Day, reiterating the position in the week before their game.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/06/sports/sp-usc6 Trojans playing role of the heavy] , "Los Angeles Times", October 6, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] However, there were no hard feelings between the coaches. The two kept in cordial phone contact and Carroll made light of Harbaugh's comments several times during the season.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/03/sports/sp-uscrep3 Carroll takes a few shots at Harbaugh] , "Los Angeles Times", October 3, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The Stanford starting quarterback, redshirt senior T. C. Ostrander, suffered a seizure on the afternoon of September 30, one day after their game against Arizona State; he was released from Stanford Hospital after a few hours, but as a precautionary measure he was held out of the game against USC. The starting quarterback position fell to Tavita Pritchard, a redshirt sophomore with three passes in his college career.Thomas Bonk, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/03/sports/sp-stanford3 Stanford hit with unexpected] , "Los Angeles Times", October 3, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Stanford was also without two other key starters: defensive lineman Ekom Udofia (ankle) and offensive lineman Allen Smith (knee).Ray Ratto, [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/10/05/SP0QSK0CE.DTL Lay the 40 1/2...] , "San Francisco Chronicle", October 5, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] On October 3 it was announced that USC running back C.J. Gable, who was averaging a team-best 11 yards a carry, would undergo season-ending abdominal surgery to correct a nagging sports hernia that had limited his ability since the previous season; because he had only played in the first three games, he would seek a medical redshirt season.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/04/sports/sp-uscrep4 Surgery ends the season for Gable] , "Los Angeles Times", October 4, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Gable's fellow running back, Stafon Johnson, was also held out of the game due to a foot bruise suffered the previous week.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/03/sports/sp-uscrep3 Carroll takes a few shots at Harbaugh] , "Los Angeles Times", October 3, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Stanford was the last team to beat USC at the Coliseum, doing so on September 29, 2001 under Tyrone Willingham (now the coach of Washington) against then-first year coach Carroll.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/06/sports/sp-usc6 Trojans playing role of the heavy] , "Los Angeles Times", October 6, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] By game week, the line for the game favored the Trojans by 39.5 points, and reached 41 points by gametime.Lonnie White, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/04/sports/sp-lines4 USC’s big point line splits bettors] , "Los Angeles Times", October 4, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Arash Markazi, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/arash_markazi/10/07/stanford.usc/index.html Aftermath of an Upset] , SI.com, October 7, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The loss ended multiple USC streaks, including a five-game win streak against Stanford and a 35-game home winning streak.John Nadel, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200710060062&prov=ap Stanford 24, (2) USC 23] , Associated Press, October 7, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] For sportsbooks, the loss to a 41-point underdog marked the biggest upset in their history.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/si_blogs/football/ncaa/2007/10/five-things-we-learned-this-weekend.html Five Things We Learned This Weekend] , SI.com, October 7, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

There were a few positive efforts for the Trojans: Tight end Fred Davis caught five passes for a career-best 152 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown; and nose tackle Sedrick Ellis had three sacks. However, there were many more errors and substandard performances: quarterback John David Booty, who broke a bone in the middle finger of his throwing hand in the first half, had four passes intercepted in the second half. The offensive line had been suffering since losing two starters in one play during the previous week's game at Washington, but the effect was severe against Stanford; the offensive line gave up four sacks, one more than the Trojans had surrendered all season, and USC gained only 95 yards rushing. Key receiver Patrick Turner dropped several passes, the defense gave up 17 points in the fourth quarter and USC had an extra-point attempt blocked, a point which became a crucial difference. Like their previous game against Washington, USC out-gained Stanford by 224 yards (459 to 235) but made many crucial turnovers and penalties.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/08/sports/sp-uscrewind8 The shock hasn't worn off yet] , "Los Angeles Times", October 8, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/08/sports/sp-usc8 USC’s big slip throws the city for a loss] , "Los Angeles Times", October 8, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] In the press conference following the game, Coach Carroll summarized his concerns: "It's real clear that we have fallen out of line with our philosophy that has guided this program for years; we're turning the ball over too much."Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/08/sports/sp-uscrewind8 The shock hasn't worn off yet] , "Los Angeles Times", October 8, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Opinions in the sports press ranged from proclaiming the end of the USC's era of dominance in college football to calling the loss a major, but not fatal set-back to any hopes for a Trojans run at the national championship.Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=3054015 Stanford ends USC's dynasty with upset victory] , ESPN.com, October 8, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/si_blogs/football/ncaa/2007/10/five-things-we-learned-this-weekend.html Five Things We Learned This Weekend] , SI.com, October 7, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/notebook?page=gamedayFinal076 College GameDay Final: There's been no predicting these first six weeks] , ESPN.com, October 8, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The Trojans fell to No. 10 in the AP Poll; however, USC only fell to No. 7 in both the Coaches Poll and Harris Poll, both of which are the human components for determining who the BCS chooses for the National Championship Game. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankingsindex?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=7&seasonType=2 AP Poll, Coaches Poll, Week 7] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=7&seasonType=2&pollId=5 Harris Poll, Week 7] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.] As a result, USC remained in outside title contention with upcoming games against consensus-No. 2 California and top-10 Oregon.Chris Dufresne, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/08/sports/sp-dufresne8 Fall-out sheltered] , "Los Angeles Times", October 8, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/si_blogs/football/ncaa/2007/10/five-things-we-learned-this-weekend.html Five Things We Learned This Weekend] , SI.com, October 7, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/08/sports/sp-usc8 USC’s big slip throws the city for a loss] , "Los Angeles Times", October 8, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The upset landed the Trojans in ESPN.com's Bottom 10.David Duffey, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?page=bottom10076 Imagining USC in the Bottom 10 is easy if you try] , ESPN.com, October 9, 2007, Accessed August 4, 2008.]

In an interview the following month, Carroll assessed the mistakes that led to the loss as his own:

At the end of the regular season, "Sports Illustrated" chose Stanford's upset of USC as the second "Biggest Upset of 2007" after Division I FCS Appalachian State's upset of No. 5 Michigan. [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0712/cfb.upsets/content.9.html Biggest Upsets of 2007: #2 Stanford 24, No. 2 USC 23] , SI.com, December 13, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Arizona

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Wildcats
R1=0
R2=10
R3=3
R4=0
Home=Trojans
H1=7
H2=3
H3=0
H4=10
After the previous week's upset loss to Stanford, the Trojans hosted the Arizona Wildcats, led by head coach Mike Stoops, aiming to correct mistakes and demonstrate that they were still in contention for the Pac-10 title and to remain an outside candidate for the national title game.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/13/sports/sp-usc13 After Shock] , "Los Angeles Times", October 13, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Matt Becker, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/preview;_ylt=AoxyFUycf4BueA.ackYLiajyvbYF?gid=200710130062 Arizona vs. (10) USC] , "Associated Press", October 13, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Matters were complicated when it was announced that starting quarterback John David Booty would not start due to a broken middle finger on his throwing hand, suffered during the previous week's loss. As a result, redshirt sophomore Mark Sanchez made his first start for the Trojans; previously he had only played during garbage time.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/12/sports/sp-usc12 Call for Backup] , "Los Angeles Times", October 12, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The Trojans also remained without offensive linemen Chilo Rachal and Kris O'Dowd, as well as leading rusher Stafon Johnson, who remained idle for a second week after bruising his left foot during the game against Washington.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/13/sports/sp-usc13 After Shock] , "Los Angeles Times", October 13, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The Trojans entered the game a 21-point favorite.John Nadel, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap;_ylt=Aqqx2uSwSf71LJ9tss_cMcXwvbYF?gid=200710130062 (10) USC 20, Arizona 13] , "Associated Press", October 13, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The Trojans again showed inconsistency for most of the game before coming alive in the fourth quarter and pulling away to a 20–13 victory. USC started out well, going ahead 10–0 in the second quarter after running back Chauncey Washington's 18-yard touchdown run and David Buehler's 27-yard field goal. However, the offense began to sputter; the Trojans amassed only 12 total yards in the second quarter and 50 in the third. Part of the offense's problems were turnovers; Sanchez threw two interceptions in the second quarter, allowing Arizona to tie the game going into halftime. The Wildcats kicked another field goal early in the third quarter to go up 13–10, raising speculation that USC was going to be upset for the second consecutive week. The momentum of the game quickly changed in the fourth quarter after freshman running back Joe McKnight, touted as the next great Trojans tailback but yet to meet expectations, made a 45-yard punt return that Sanchez followed up on the next play with a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Fred Davis. After a defensive stop, Arizona punter Keenyn Crier kicked an 83-yard punt to the Trojans one-yard line. The Trojans pushed forward with fullback Stanley Havili before McKnight again made a big play, running 59 yards and setting up what would be a Trojans field goal. The USC defense then forced an Arizona turn-over on downs to preserve the victory.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/14/sports/sp-usc14 McKnight zigs, USC zags] , "Los Angeles Times", October 14, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] John Nadel, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap;_ylt=Aqqx2uSwSf71LJ9tss_cMcXwvbYF?gid=200710130062 (10) USC 20, Arizona 13] , October 13, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Sanchez recovered from his poor first half performance with a strong performance in the second, where he completed 11 of 15 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown while later making a key 10-yard scramble on third and seven late in the fourth quarter.Ben Bloch, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/14/sports/sp-uscside14 Sanchez overcomes shaky start for USC] , "Los Angeles Times", October 14, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The injuries that had plagued USC throughout the season continued as All-American tackle Sam Baker left the game because of a hamstring strain and freshman guard Zack Heberer, already substituting for an injured Chilo Rachal, suffered a shoulder bruise. On the defense, linebacker Rey Maualuga suffered a hip injury and safety Kevin Ellison broke his nose.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/14/sports/sp-uscrep14 Baker's injury further depletes offensive line] , "Los Angeles Times", October 14, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] An uncommon number of injuries, especially along the offensive line, depleted reserve players and forced Trojans to reach out to the general student population in order to find students with previous lineman experience to help on the scout team's offensive line; however, none were officially added to the roster.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/19/sports/sp-usc19 Trojans dial out on their open line] , "Los Angeles Times", October 19, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

In light of the Trojans close victory, USC dropped in both major polls, falling to No. 13 in the AP Poll and No. 9 in the Coaches Poll, tied with previously No. 2 California, which had just lost an upset to Oregon State. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankingsindex?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=8&seasonType=2 AP Poll, Coaches Poll, Week 8] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The Trojans debuted at No. 14 in the Bowl Championship Series standings. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/BCSStandings?week=1 BCS Standings - October 14, 2007] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

At Notre Dame

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Trojans
R1=7
R2=10
R3=14
R4=7
Home=Fighting Irish
H1=0
H2=0
H3=0
H4=0
USC visited inter-sectional rival Notre Dame for their 79th annual game for possession of the Jeweled Shillelagh. Pre-season demand for tickets was among the highest in Notre Dame history as USC made its first visit back to Notre Dame Stadium since the notable 2005 "Bush Push" game; demand remained high although, going into the season, the Fighting Irish were unranked.David Duffey, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview07/news/story?id=2975519 Don't miss these nonconference games in 2007] , ESPN.com, August 15, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Liz Link, [http://www.ticketcity.com/Top-50-College-Football-Tickets.html The Top 50 Hottest Tickets in College Football Unveiled (Press Release)] , TicketCity.com, August 12, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Notre Dame had the worst start to their season in program history, opening 0–5 (the previous record was 0–3) and headed into their game with USC at 1–6. [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21049290/ Irish drop to 0-5 after defeat to Purdue] , Associated Press, September 29, 2007, Accessed August 19, 2008.] With significant problems at most positions, Coach Weis made several changes at quarterback: Starting the opener with sophomore Demetrius Jones, he chose to start heralded freshman Jimmy Clausen for games two through seven; during which time Jones transferred from the program. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3003938 Clausen gets starting nod at QB against Penn State] , Associated Press, September 4, 2007, Accessed August 19, 2008.] After Clausen also showed trouble at the position, Weis elected to go with junior Evan Sharpley as the starter for the USC game; Sharpley had backed up Brady Quinn the previous season.Tom Coyne, [http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=ncf&id=3066004 Notre Dame to start Sharpley at QB vs. USC] , "Associated Press", October 16, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] In response to controversy over the length of the grass in Notre Dame Stadium during the 2005 game, where USC kickoff returner Desmond Reed suffered torn right knee ligaments and nerve damage while trying to turn on the field, the Fighting Irish cut the grass significantly shorter.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/20/sports/sp-uscrep20 Notre Dame's field in better shape this time] , "Los Angeles Times", October 20, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Notre Dame entered the game ranked last in total offense (190.9 yards a game) and rushing (32.1 yards a game), and next to last in scoring (11.4 points); their offensive line had given up 34 sacks.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/20/sports/sp-usc20 Pushing Back] , "Los Angeles Times", October 20, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

With starting quarterback John David Booty still recovering from a broken finger on his throwing hand, USC elected to start Mark Sanchez for the second straight week. On the Thursday night before the game, the Trojans charter flight experienced severe turbulence on approach to South Bend Regional Airport during a lightning storm; their aircraft dropped and threw several passengers (players, coaches and their spouses) from their seats and hit their heads on the ceiling during an initial approach that was aborted before the plane circled and landed safely.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/19/sports/sp-uscrep19 Team has bad flight arrival] , "Los Angeles Times", October 19, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Breaking with tradition, the Fighting Irish announced in June that they would be wearing their alternative green jerseys instead of blue against USC; Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis noted that it was in honor of the 1977 Irish team that switched to green jerseys before defeating the Trojans en route to a national championship (Weis was a student at Notre Dame at the time). Previously, the Irish did not let the public know when they would be wearing their green jerseys. [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19140025/ Notre Dame going green vs. USC] , Associated Press, August 5, 2007, Accessed August 19, 2008.]

The Trojans dominated the game, shutting out Notre Dame 38–0, USC's largest margin of victory in the series. Quarterback Mark Sanchez made significant improvements over the previous week, completing 21 of 38 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions. There were several highlight plays: Tight end Fred Davis made a one-handed touchdown catch in the first quarter, wide receiver Vidal Hazelton made a 48-yard touchdown run after evading several Irish defenders, and freshman running back Joe McKnight made a 51-yard fourth quarter run for his first touchdown. The USC defense stifled the Irish offense: allowing only 165 yards to the Trojans' 462 yards, making five sacks, and keeping the Irish from rushing for a first down until the fourth quarter. There were several special teams miscues: The Irish blocked a USC punt, the Trojans blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt and the Irish had a fumbled punt return recovered by USC. The Trojans had several key players return from injuries and make significant contributions, including linebacker Brian Cushing and running back Stafon Johnson.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/21/sports/sp-usc21 Heroes and zeros for Trojans] , "Los Angeles Times", October 21, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Ben Bolch, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/21/sports/sp-uscside21 Defense plays like Trojans of old] , "Los Angeles Times", October 21, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Gary Klein and Ben Bolch, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/21/sports/sp-uscrep21 Cushing’s return a mood-lifter for Trojans’ defense] , "Los Angeles Times", October 21, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

After two weeks of moving down in the rankings, the Trojans moved up to No. 8 in the Coaches Poll, No. 9 in the AP Poll (tied with Florida) and No. 12 in the BCS standings. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=9&seasonType=2&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Week 8 (Oct. 21)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=9&seasonType=2&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Week 8 (Oct. 21)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/BCSStandings?week=2 BCS Standings - October 21, 2007] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

At Oregon

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Trojans
R1=0
R2=3
R3=7
R4=7
Home=Ducks
H1=7
H2=3
H3=7
H4=7
With the Ducks as three-point favorites, the Trojans entered a Pac-10 game as underdogs for the first time since November 17, 2001; the game was the first between top-10 teams in the 41-year history of Oregon's Autzen Stadium.John Nadel, [http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=ncf&id=3076335 USC plays underdog role for first time in Pac-10 game since 2001] , Associated Press, October 23, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The match-up was framed as a battle between Oregon's highly productive offense and USC's defense.Ted Miller, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3077378 Can't overlook when the Oregon, USC weaknesses match up] , ESPN.com, October 25, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The Trojans were affected by the massive wildfires affecting Southern California that week; air quality during outdoor practices in Los Angeles dropped significantly, and Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez' father, a fire captain with the Orange County Fire Authority, was on the front line fighting the blazes.Jason King, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/news;_ylt=Apv7UlX2c8b8vOuleYgJR.YcvrYF?slug=jn-sanchez102407&prov=yhoo&type=lgns Into the fire] , Yahoo! Sports, October 24, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] With John David Booty still recovering from a broken finger, Sanchez was given the start for the third week in a row. The Trojans were also set to return from injury all-American offensive tackle Sam Baker and guard Chilo Rachal.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/26/sports/sp-uscrep26 Carroll decides to start Mark Sanchez] , "Los Angeles Times", October 26, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Despite having won the previous three contests, the Trojans noted concerns about playing in the famously loud and raucous Autzen Stadium.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/27/sports/sp-usc27 Decibels and ringing bells] , "Los Angeles Times", October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Before a stadium-record crowd of 59,277, the Ducks defeated the Trojans 24–17 in a game decided in the final seconds.Anne M. Peterson, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200710270060 (5) Oregon 24, (9) USC 17] , Associated Press, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The Trojans made key mistakes and did not exploit several opportunities against the Ducks. After Oregon fumbled the opening kickoff, USC failed to score after the Ducks stopped running back Joe McKnight on a fourth-and-one play at the Oregon 12 yard line. Later in the first quarter, an apparent 65–yard touchdown run by McKnight was nullified by a holding penalty away from the play.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/28/sports/sp-usc28 Hope takes holiday] , "Los Angeles Times", October 28, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The Trojans trailed 10–3 going into halftime, but tied the game in the third quarter on a Sanchez to Patrick Turner touchdown pass. However, on the next possession, fullback Stanley Havili fumbled the ball and Oregon recovered on the USC 16 yard line, leading to an Oregon touchdown. On USC's next series, Sanchez threw an interception. During the Trojans' following series, Oregon safety Matthew Harper intercepted a pass and returned it 27 yards to the Oregon 42. The Ducks took a 24–10 lead with 11:39 left as running back Jonathan Stewart scored his second touchdown. The Trojans rallied; Sanchez led an 85–yard, five-play drive that he capped with a 14–yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Ausberry. The USC defense forced an Oregon three-and-out and starting at their 17, the Trojans advanced to Oregon's 33 with 26 seconds left. However, on second down, Sanchez misread the defensive coverage and threw his second interception of the game to Harper with 11 seconds left in the game.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/28/sports/sp-usc28 Hope takes holiday] , "Los Angeles Times", October 28, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] After taking a knee to run out the clock on first down, USC used their final timeout to stop the clock. Unaware of the timeout, Oregon fans stormed the field before the game officially finished, and after being cleared away the Ducks took a second knee and ran out the clock, sealing the victory.Anne M. Peterson, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200710270060 (5) Oregon 24, (9) USC 17] , Associated Press, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The Trojans defense did slow down the Oregon offense, keeping them 212 yards below their season average, allowing the USC offense to out-gain the Ducks, 378 yards to 339.Ivan Maisel, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=3083036 Ducks look like championship contender in win over USC] , ESPN.com, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The Ducks' senior quarterback, Dennis Dixon, ran for 76 yards and a touchdown in 17 carries and completed 16 of 25 passes for 157 yards without an interception. However, the Oregon defense ultimately won the game for the Ducks. Sanchez threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns, but also had the two interceptions, including the game-ender.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/28/sports/sp-usc28 Hope takes holiday] , "Los Angeles Times", October 28, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] USC Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian's decisions on several key plays were called into question by fans in the week following the game.Bill Dwyre, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/04/sports/sp-dwyre4 USC's offense stays afloat with Sarkisian at the helm] , "Los Angeles Times", November 4, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Eugene's newspaper, "The Register-Guard", recorded the crowd noise at 127.2 decibels, making it the loudest crowd for a college football game; 1.2 decibels louder than the 126 decibels made by 77,381 Clemson fans during a game in 2005. [http://www.kgw.com/sports/stories/kgw_102807_sports_autzen_noise.1b705e3bc.html Ducks fans deliver an ear-splitting roar] , Associated Press, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The game was viewed as marking Oregon's rise to a national title contender and a break in USC's dominance of the Pac-10 conference.Ivan Maisel, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=3083036 Ducks look like championship contender in win over USC] , ESPN.com, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Arash Markazi, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/arash_markazi/10/27/oregon.usc/index.html Leader of the (middle of) the pack] , SI.com, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Chris Dufresne, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/28/sports/sp-dufresne28 Loss exposes Trojans as team in transition] , "Los Angeles Times", October 28, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Pete Thammel, [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/28/sports/ncaafootball/28oregon.html U.S.C. Suddenly Looking Up at Oregon] , "The New York Times", October 28, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The game also marked the first season since 2002 that the Trojans were going into November no longer considered a national title contender.Ivan Maisel, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=3083036 Ducks look like championship contender in win over USC] , ESPN.com, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Despite losing the game, the Trojans were still regarded as a legitimate threat in the conference and were projected as a potential at-large team for the BCS bowl games.Ivan Maisel, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=3083036 Ducks look like championship contender in win over USC] , ESPN.com, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Chris Dufresne, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/28/sports/sp-dufresne28 Loss exposes Trojans as team in transition] , "Los Angeles Times", October 28, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?page=bowlprojections9 Which team will face Ohio State?] , ESPN.com, October 30, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] However, there were voices in the media that believed the loss signaled the "death" of the "Trojan Dynasty" that had reigned in college football since 2002.Matt Hayes, [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21507051/ The Trojan dynasty is dead and buried] , MSNBC/Sporting News, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

The Trojans fell to No. 13 in the AP Poll, No. 15 in the Coaches Poll, and No. 19 in the BCS standings. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=9&seasonType=2&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Week 9 (Oct. 28)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=10&seasonType=2&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Week 9 (Oct. 28)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/BCSStandings?week=3 BCS Standings - October 28, 2007] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 3, 2008.]

Oregon State

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Beavers
R1=0
R2=3
R3=0
R4=0
Home=Trojans
H1=3
H2=21
H3=0
H4=0

USC celebrated homecoming by hosting the Oregon State Beavers, coached by Mike Riley. In 2006, the unranked Beavers stunned the No. 3 Trojans in a 33–31 upset in Corvallis.Anne M. Peterson, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200610280061 Oregon St. 33, (3) USC 31] , "Associated Press", October 28, 2006, Accessed July 6, 2008.] The Beavers had not won at USC since 1960.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/02/sports/sp-uscrep2 Oregon State puts on pressure] , "Los Angeles Times", November 2, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

Oregon State entered the game with the nation's best rushing defense, allowing only 54.5 yards rushing a game and also recording a nation-leading 34 sacks. The Beaver defense ranked 13th nationally in total defense, surrendering 299.9 yards a game. Trojans quarterback John David Booty returned from injury to start; offensive lineman Sam Baker remained out after re-injuring a hamstring against the Ducks. Oregon State star running back Yvenson Bernard was initially expected to play despite a sprained shoulder, but did not.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/02/sports/sp-uscrep2 Oregon State puts on pressure] , "Los Angeles Times", November 2, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Former USC linebacker Richard Wood, who was chosen for the College Football Hall of Fame, was honored at halftime.Gary Klein and Ben Bolch, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/04/sports/sp-uscrep4 Thomas picks a good time to excel] , "Los Angeles Times", November 4, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

In a strong defensive performance, the Trojans defeated the Beavers 24–3. The USC defense made nine sacks and intercepted a pass; they limited Oregon State to 176 total yards and a field goal off a Trojans fumble in the USC red zone. True freshman Everson Griffen had 3½ sacks, safety Kevin Ellison added two, end Lawrence Jackson had 1½ and nose tackle Sedrick Ellis and linebacker Brian Cushing had one each; cornerback Terrell Thomas made the interception. The Trojans offense had its second lowest total of the season, gaining 287 yards, but it rushed for 100 yards against the Beavers' tight rush defense, led by Chauncey Washington who gained 60 yards in 12 carries. Booty, returning from injury, could not find his rhythm but still completed 19 of 33 passes for 157 yards without an interception; the Trojans converted only five of 16 third downs. Both teams missed field goals in the first quarter, then exchanged field goals going into the second quarter. The Trojans then scored 21 unanswered points in less than eight minutes to close the half. Neither team scored in the second half. USC running back Stafon Johnson was allowed to play a few downs but was kept out for most of the game to allow his foot to heal fully.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/04/sports/sp-usc4 Sack time for Trojans] , "Los Angeles Times", November 4, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/05/sports/sp-uscrewind5 Putting forward its best defense] , "Los Angeles Times", November 5, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Ben Bolch, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/04/sports/sp-uscside4 Trojans get the payoff up front for a change] , "Los Angeles Times", November 4, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

The Trojans rose slightly in the polls to No. 12 in the AP Poll, No. 15 in the Coaches Poll, and No. 17 in the BCS standings. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=11&seasonType=2&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Week 10 (Nov. 4)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=11&seasonType=2&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Week 10 (Nov. 4)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/BCSStandings?week=4 BCS Standings - November 4, 2007] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.] The 2007 Holiday Bowl was mentioned as a possible destination for the Trojans. Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said they would be very interested in pitting the Trojans against the Texas Longhorns. The two teams last met in the 2006 Rose Bowl.Alan Trubow, [http://www.statesman.com/search/content/shared/sports/stories/2007/11/FBC_TEXAS_1108_COX.html Longhorns have multiple bowl possibilities] , "Austin American-Statesman", November 8, 2007, Accessed August 19, 2008.]

At California

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Trojans
R1=7
R2=7
R3=3
R4=7
Home=Golden Bears
H1=7
H2=3
H3=7
H4=0
In the pre-season, the Trojans' game against California was named as one of the candidates for the 10 most important games of 2007; the Trojans national title hopes hinged on proving themselves against a veteran team led by head coach Jeff Tedford in California Memorial Stadium.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/stewart_mandel/06/21/10.games/index.html Momentous matchups] , SI.com, June 21, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] David Duffey, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview07/news/story?id=2973803 Don't miss these conference games in 2007] , ESPN.com, August 14, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Prior to the season, Cal star receiver DeSean Jackson, an early Heisman Trophy candidate, called out USC cornerback Terrell Thomas in "ESPN The Magazine", stating that he would best the cornerback who contributed to limiting him to two catches in the 2006 match-up.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/16/sports/sp-uscrep16 Tailback Moody to transfer] , "Los Angeles Times", August 16, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] After USC's loss to Stanford, the game was still referred to as the Pac-10 game of the year; however, after Cal's mid-season losses to Oregon State and UCLA and USC's loss to Oregon, the game took on less importance.Ted Miller, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3057109 Looks good on paper, but Pac-10 midseason arrives with thud] , ESPN.com, October 10, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Justin Einhorn, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/preview?gid=200711100059 (12) USC vs. (24) California] , Associated Press, November 6, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Ted Miller, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3098463 Cal hoping to bounce back with statement win against Trojans] , ESPN.com, November 7, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

On a rain-soaked evening in Strawberry Canyon, the Trojans gained a 24–17 victory over the No. 24 Golden Bears behind a career-best effort by running back Chauncey Washington. After seeing his early success against the Cal defense, USC began handing the ball almost exclusively to Washington who ran for 220 yards on 29 rushes. Due to the rain and Washington's success on the ground, Booty only attempted 20 passes for 129 yards in 11 completions with one touchdown and no interceptions; the Trojans offensive line did not give up a sack.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/12/sports/sp-uscrep12 Defense, Washington keyed win] , "Los Angeles Times", November 12, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] USC returner Ronald Johnson returned four kicks for 102 yards, including one for 41 yards and another for 35, giving USC favorable field position.Gary Klein and Thomas Bonk, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/11/sports/sp-uscrep11 Returner Johnson waiting for big break] , "Los Angeles Times", November 11, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Cal running back Justin Forsett had an effective night, running for 164 yards in 31 carries. However, the Trojans defense had another solid effort, holding Cal to 14 points below its scoring average and forcing quarterback Nate Longshore into two interceptions and a sack.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/12/sports/sp-uscrep12 Defense, Washington keyed win] , "Los Angeles Times", November 12, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Cal's one-time Heisman Trophy candidate, wide receiver DeSean Jackson, was limited to five receptions for 64 yards and was kept from returning any kicks. [http://usctrojans.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2007-2008/usccal.html Box Score: USC 24, California 17] , Associated Press, November 11, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

The game turned to the Trojans favor during the fourth quarter, when the Trojans put together a 10 play, 96-yard drive behind Washington and capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Stafon Johnson.Thomas Bonk, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/11/sports/sp-uscside11 Cal can't make crucial stop] , "Los Angeles Times", November 11, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Cal received the ball back with 7:38 left, but the Trojans forced turnovers in the Bears' subsequent two drives; after Lawrence Jackson recovered a fumbled snap on the first drive, cornerback Terrell Thomas intercepted a Longshore pass at the USC 17 with 2:47 to play to seal the victory.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/11/sports/sp-usc11 Trojans drive safely] , "Los Angeles Times", November 11, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] As part of its Hall of Fame weekend, Cal wore throwback jerseys based on its 1975 team in honor of All-American quarterback Joe Roth; it was the third team to wear throwback jerseys in their game against the Trojans.Gary Klein and Thomas Bonk, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/11/sports/sp-uscrep11 Returner Johnson waiting for big break] , "Los Angeles Times", November 11, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Linebacker Keith Rivers suffered a high ankle sprain.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/12/sports/sp-uscrep12 Defense, Washington keyed win] , "Los Angeles Times", November 12, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

After the victory and the subsequent bye week, the Trojans again rose slightly in the polls to No. 11 in the AP Poll, No. 11 in the BCS standings, and No. 12 in the Coaches Poll. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=13&seasonType=2&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Week 12 (Nov. 18)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=13&seasonType=2&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Week 12 (Nov. 18)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/BCSStandings?week=6 BCS Standings - November 18, 2007] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

At Arizona State

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Trojans
R1=17
R2=10
R3=17
R4=0
Home=Sun Devils
H1=14
H2=3
H3=0
H4=7
In the pre-season, the game against veteran head coach Dennis Erickson's first squad at ASU was identified as a potential trap game for the Trojans.David Fox, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/football/ncaa/06/19/schedules.pac10/index.html Pac-10 schedule rankings] , SI.com/Rivals.com, June 21, 2007, Accessed May 30, 2008.] With No. 2 Oregon's loss during the bye week, Arizona State rose to No. 9 in the polls and the top of the Pac-10 standings while USC remained in contention for at least a share of the Pac-10 title if they could win out.Andrew Bagnato, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200711150057 Arizona 34, (2) Oregon 24] , Associated Press, November 16, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

Scheduled for prime time television on Thanksgiving Day, it was the only major college game scheduled on the holiday.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/21/sports/sp-uscrep21 Reserves need to step up with Rivers, Moore injured] , "Los Angeles Times", November 21, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] It was Arizona State's first Thanksgiving Day game, and USC's 20th, though its first since 1938.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/22/sports/sp-uscrep22 Ellison visits spot of injury] , "Los Angeles Times", November 22, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] The game attracted a number of celebrities, including former USC Heisman-winners Marcus Allen and Matt Leinart, who was joined by Arizona Cardinals teammate Larry Fitzgerald, Heisman-winner Gino Torretta, Bob Davie and Charles Barkley; it also included a halftime performance by singer Little Richard.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/22/sports/sp-uscrep22 Ellison visits spot of injury] , "Los Angeles Times", November 22, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] In honor of the holiday, the Sun Devils added a turkey leg to the end of Sparty's pitchfork painted at the center of the field.Gary Klein and Diane Pucin, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/23/sports/sp-uscrep23 Ronald Johnson gets it going early] , "Los Angeles Times", November 23, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

Eleven years removed from their last Rose Bowl berth, Arizona State had made a quick turn-around under Erickson, returning to national prominence with a 9–1 record.Dan Pieringer, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/preview;_ylt=AooqnyYB6MIDnE5FEvDddhvyvbYF?gid=200711220058 (11) USC vs. (7) Arizona St.] , Associated Press, November 22, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Using an NFL-style offense under junior quarterback Rudy Carpenter, the Sun Devils put extra pressure on their offensive line, resulting in 43 sacks, the most in the Pac-10 Conference and second most in the nation. In order to relieve Carpenter, who had suffered injuries over the season in his throwing hand, Arizona State planned to also work in the running game behind Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance. USC entered the game ranked first in the Pac-10 and third nationally in defense, giving up 267.9 yards per game.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/22/sports/sp-usc22 Trojans plan to draw a line in the sand] , "Los Angeles Times", November 22, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] The Sun Devils had trailed in every Pac-10 conference game in the season up to that point.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/21/sports/sp-uscrep21 Reserves need to step up with Rivers, Moore injured] , "Los Angeles Times", November 21, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

Behind a strong performance by John David Booty, the Trojans defeated the Sun Devils, 44–24, in front of a sold-out Sun Devil Stadium. Under an even passing attack, Booty threw for 26 of 39 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and also rushed for a touchdown, distributing the ball to eight different receivers, including four separate players for his touchdowns. Tight end Fred Davis made five receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. David Buehler kicked three field goals. The Trojans defense also had a strong game, making six sacks as the Sun Devils were shut down for most of the second half and held to only 16 yards rushing; two of the Sun Devil's scores were from a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown and a score off a blocked punt in the fourth quarter.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/23/sports/sp-usc23 Booty and a feast] , "Los Angeles Times", November 23, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/26/sports/sp-uscrewind26 A moving performance by Booty] , "Los Angeles Times", November 26, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Defensive end Lawrence Jackson made four of USC's sacks, the most by a USC player since 1989, including one that split Carpenter's lip and caused him to throw his helmet towards the sideline in frustration; Jackson also finished with a school-record 5½ tackles for losses.Diane Pucin, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/23/sports/sp-uscside23 Jackson really gets to Carpenter] , "Los Angeles Times", November 23, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/26/sports/sp-uscrewind26 A moving performance by Booty] , "Los Angeles Times", November 26, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Ronald Johnson had another strong game on special teams, returning the opening kickoff 49 yards.Gary Klein and Diane Pucin, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/23/sports/sp-uscrep23 Ronald Johnson gets it going early] , "Los Angeles Times", November 23, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

Two days later Oregon lost to UCLA, leaving the Trojans in a tie for first place in the Pac-10 standings with Arizona State (winning the tiebreaker).John Nadel, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200711240064 UCLA 16, (9) Oregon 0] , Associated Press, November 24, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] USC's strong victory, along with several upsets during the week, led the Trojans to rise to No. 8 in the AP Poll, No. 8 in the BCS standings, and No. 9 in the Coaches Poll. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=14&seasonType=2&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Week 13 (Nov. 25)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=14&seasonType=2&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Week 13 (Nov. 25)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/BCSStandings?week=7 BCS Standings - November 25, 2007] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

UCLA

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Bruins
R1=0
R2=7
R3=0
R4=0
Home=Trojans
H1=7
H2=10
H3=0
H4=7
The Trojans ended the regular season by hosting the UCLA Bruins, who were led by head coach Karl Dorrell, in the 77th edition of their annual crosstown rivalry game for possession of the Victory Bell. In the 2006 season, the Bruins' 13–9 upset of the then-No. 2 Trojans in the final week of the regular season ended the Trojans' hopes for reaching the National Championship game.David Duffey, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview07/news/story?id=2973803 Don't miss these conference games in 2007] , ESPN.com, August 14, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] With both teams ranked going into the season (USC first, UCLA 14th in the AP Poll), there was buzz in Los Angeles that both teams might reach their December 1 game undefeated.Chris Dufresne, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/01/sports/sp-decfirst1 Talk of the town] , "Los Angeles Times", September 1, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] UCLA made it as high as 11th in both polls before suffering a 44–7 upset loss at unranked Utah in week 3 that knocked them out of the top 25.Doug Alden, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200709150094 Utah takes advantage of UCLA miscues in 44-6 win over No. 11 Bruins] , Associated Press, September 15, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008..] It was the 36th time that a Rose Bowl berth was on the line in the game: A USC victory would guarantee them at least a share of the Pac-10 Conference title and a berth in the 2008 Rose Bowl Game; UCLA, despite entering the game 6–5 (5–3 in the Pac-10), also entered the game with a chance at the Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth if they could defeat the Trojans and Arizona could beat Arizona State in a game later in the day.Matt Becker, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/preview;_ylt=AooqnyYB6MIDnE5FEvDddhvyvbYF?gid=200712010062 UCLA vs. (8) USC] , Associated Press, December 1, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008..] Gary Klein and Chris Foster, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/26/sports/sp-rose26 Unexpected Rose arrangement] , "Los Angeles Times", November 26, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

During the 2006 contest, UCLA Defensive Coordinator DeWayne Walker had the Bruins apply aggressive pressure to John David Booty, limiting the quarterback's ability to drive the passing game while holding the Trojans to 55 yards rushing and an average of only 1.9 yards per carry. USC entered the 2007 game averaging 186.6 yards rushing and 4.8 yards per carry, significantly higher than the 128 yards rushing per game in 2006.Lonnie White, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/27/sports/sp-xando27 Can UCLA stop USC?] , "Los Angeles Times", November 27, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] UCLA's season was marked by numerous injures, particularly at quarterback. Original starting quarterback Ben Olson injured his knee early in the season and missed over four games. Backup quarterback Patrick Cowan also suffered a knee injury but returned for two more games before suffering a collapsed lung against Arizona. As a result, the Bruins had resorted to playing walk-on McLeod Bethel-Thompson and converted-wide receiver Osaar Rasshan.Chris Foster, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/27/sports/sp-uclarep27 Three quarterbacks, one problem] , "Los Angeles Times", November 27, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

In the week leading up to the game, a dispute between USC and the Coliseum Commission, the public managers of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, went public. USC threatened to move to the Rose Bowl (home of the UCLA Bruins since 1982) if an agreement could not be reached.Sam Farmer, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/28/sports/sp-rose28 USC considers leaving Coliseum for Rose Bowl] , "Los Angeles Times", November 28, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Bill Plaschke, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/28/sports/sp-plaschke28 Coliseum can't let USC complete fade pattern] , "Los Angeles Times", November 28, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] David Wharton and Sam Farmer, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/29/sports/sp-rose29 Mayor benches NFL bin in favor of Trojans] , "Los Angeles Times", November 29, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Bill Dwyre, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/01/sports/sp-dwyre1 USC’s threat to leave may be (com)mission impossible] , "Los Angeles Times", December 1, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] In addition to honoring the outgoing seniors during their final game in the Coliseum, the Trojans also honored late players Drean Rucker and Mario Danelo, who would have both been members of the 2007 senior class. Rucker, a linebacker from Moreno Valley, drowned during the summer before his freshman year with USC (and was honored during the 2004 season) and Danelo died from a fatal fall immediately following the 2006 season; members of both families attended. The stadium also held a moment of silence for the passing of Trojans alumnus and donor Louis Galen.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/01/sports/sp-uscrep1 Rucker, Danelo will be in their thoughts] , "Los Angeles Times", December 1, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] USC entered the game as a 20 point favorite.Lonnie White, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/01/sports/sp-lines1 Numbers favor the Trojans] , "Los Angeles Times", December 1, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

The Trojans defense dominated the Bruins in a 24–7 victory before a sold-out Coliseum crowd. The Trojans held the Bruins to a season-low 168 yards, sacking quarterback Patrick Cowan four times for 31 yards in losses and held the Bruins to 12 net rushing yards. USC forced four turnovers, recovering three UCLA fumbles and intercepting a pass. The Bruins did not convert any of its 11 third down situations. The Bruins sole score came in a drive in the closing minutes of the first half. USC gained 231 rushing yards and 437 overall. On the ground, running back Joe McKnight rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown, Stafon Johnson ran for 73 yards and senior Chauncey Washington gained 66 yards and scored a touchdown. Booty completed 21 of 36 passes for 206 yards with a touchdown and an interception.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/02/sports/sp-rivals2 Pasadena Residents] , "Los Angeles Times", December 2, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

The victory assured USC a share of the Pac-10 title. Although Arizona State would defeat Arizona later in the night to become co-champions, the Trojans clinched a berth in the Rose Bowl by virtue of their victory over the Sun Devils the previous week. USC extended its unprecedented streak of Pac-10 titles to six in a row, having already broken the record the previous season with five.Bill Dwyre, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/02/sports/sp-dwyre2 Carroll gives no signals for a fade pattern] , "Los Angeles Times", December 2, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Dorrell was fired by UCLA the following Monday.Chris Foster, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/04/sports/sp-dorrell4 Bruins ready for next step] , "Los Angeles Times", December 4, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] USC's victory, coupled with another week of upsets, led the Trojans to rise to No. 6 in the AP Poll, No. 6 in the Coaches Poll, and No. 7 in the BCS standings. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=15&seasonType=2&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Week 14 (Dec. 2)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=15&seasonType=2&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Week 14 (Dec. 2)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/BCSStandings?week=8 BCS Standings - December 2, 2007] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 6, 2008.]

Rose Bowl versus Illinois

Linescore Amfootball
Road=Illini
R1=0
R2=3
R3=7
R4=7
Home=Trojans
H1=14
H2=7
H3=14
H4=14

The Trojans ended the 2007 season by participating in the 2008 Rose Bowl, held on New Year's Day in the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California; it was the Trojans' fourth Rose Bowl game and sixth BCS Bowl in six years. Although it traditionally hosts the champions of the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences, the 2007 Big Ten Champion, Ohio State, was ranked No. 1 in the final BCS poll and instead participated in the 2008 BCS National Championship Game. The rules governing BCS bowl selections allowed the Rose Bowl to select a BCS "at-large" team from the top 14 teams ranked in the BCS Standings that have at least nine wins. Keeping with its traditional bowl ties, the Rose Bowl selected the No. 13-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini (9–3), under third-year head coach Ron Zook.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/03/sports/sp-rose3 USC-Illinois accents Rose Bowl tradition] , "Los Angeles Times", December 3, 2007, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

The Illini entered the Rose Bowl after a Cinderella season where they won nine games, including an upset victory over at-the-time No. 1 Ohio State, after winning a total of four games the previous two seasons.David Wharton, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/17/sports/sp-illinirep17 Underdog role works well for the Illini] , "Los Angeles Times", December 17, 2007, Accessed August 20, 2008.] It was Illinois' first bowl game since winning the 2001 Big Ten Championship and playing in the 2002 Sugar Bowl. The Illini offense was led by sophomore quarterback "Juice" Williams, who in the regular season passed for 13 touchdowns and ran for seven, junior running back Rashard Mendenhall, who averaged 127 yards rushing per game and scored 18 touchdowns, and freshman receiver Arrelious Benn, who caught 49 passes and had 158 yards in 32 carries.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/03/sports/sp-rose3 USC-Illinois accents Rose Bowl tradition] , "Los Angeles Times", December 3, 2007, Accessed July 7, 2008.] For taking Illinois to the Rose Bowl a year after going 2–10, Zook won both national and Big Ten coach of the year honors. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3172840 Zook named coach of year after Illinois' turnaround season] , Associated Press, December 29, 2007, Accessed August 20, 2008.] The Illini entered the game 13.5 point underdogs, the biggest of any of the season's 32 bowl games.Eddie Pells, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200801010062 USC gets all the bounces and the points in 49-17 win over Illinois] , Associated Press, January 1, 2008, Accessed May 30, 2008.]

The Trojans routed the Illini 49–17 before a sold-out Rose Bowl crowd. USC set a Rose Bowl-record of 633 offensive yards and tied the record for points scored. John David Booty completed 25 of 37 passes for 255 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Seven different Trojans rushed the ball, led by running back Joe McKnight who had 125 rushing yards and touchdown (McKnight totaled 206 yards for the game). Tight end Fred Davis led the receivers with seven receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. Mendenhall led the Illini, rushing 17 times for 155 yards and one touchdown, with 214 yards overall. Williams had 245 yards passing, completing 21 of 35 passes with two interceptions and was sacked five times.Eddie Pells, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200801010062 USC gets all the bounces and the points in 49-17 win over Illinois] , Associated Press, January 1, 2008, Accessed May 30, 2008.] The second Trojans touchdown was a trick play thrown by walk-on receiver-quarterback Garrett Green, who caught a ball thrown backward by Booty and then threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to running back Desmond Reed, who backflipped into the endzone, resulting in an excessive celebration penalty.Gary Klein, Mike Hiserman and David Wharton, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/02/sports/sp-rosenotes2 Green puts arm to good use] , "Los Angeles Times", January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] The fourth quarter included a touchdown by sixth-year senior and one-time starter Hershel Dennis, his first score since 2004, leading to a bench-clearing celebration that resulted in USC receiving another excessive celebration penalty. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz_U3WtAIjY 2008 Rose Bowl - Hershel Dennis] , YouTube.com, January 2, 2008, Accessed July 11, 2008.] Gary Klein, Mike Hiserman and David Wharton, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/02/sports/sp-rosenotes2 Green puts arm to good use] , "Los Angeles Times", January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

USC's 32-point victory was the largest margin of victory in the Rose Bowl since 1984, when UCLA defeated Illinois 45–9.Teddy Greenstein, [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/chicagotribune/access/1406259671.html?dids=1406259671:1406259671&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Jan+2%2C+2008&author=TEDDY+GREENSTEIN&pub=Chicago+Tribune&edition=&startpage=5&desc=Walk-on+walks+off+Rose+Bowl+winner Walk-on walks off Rose Bowl winner] (paid archive), "Chicago Tribune", January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] The lopsided score amplified existing criticism of the Tournament of Roses for scheduling the lower-ranked Fighting Illini as the at-large team.Bill Dwyre, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/02/sports/sp-dwyre2 Big Ten? Seems more like Big Zero] , "Los Angeles Times", January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Arash Markazi, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/arash_markazi/01/02/rose.bowl/index.html Plague of allegiance] , SI.com, January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/stewart_mandel/01/03/cfb.bag/index.html Botched Championship Series] , SI.com, January 3, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Booty was selected as the Rose Bowl Offensive MVP, and set a Rose Bowl record with seven career touchdowns. USC linebacker Rey Maualuga was selected as the Defensive MVP with three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.Chris Foster, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/02/sports/sp-roseside2 Maualuga caps a strong defensive effort] , "Los Angeles Times", January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] It was USC's fifth victory in six consecutive appearances in a BCS Bowl.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/02/sports/sp-rose2 Movers and takers] , "Los Angeles Times", January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

USC ended the season as No. 2 in the final Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the final AP Poll with one first-place vote. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=1&seasonType=3&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Final (Dec. 16)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 7, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=1&seasonType=3&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Final (Dec. 16] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

After the season

Comments

The 2007 USC Trojans entered the season picked as the unanimous No. 1 team, with expectations of playing in the BCS National Title Game. After the loss to 41-point underdog Stanford, the team's opportunities for national success came into serious question, and following the loss to Oregon there were questions as to whether USC would even win the Pacific-10 Conference.Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/bowls07/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=3176724 Trojans look like nation's best with no one left to play] , ESPN.com, January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Matt Hayes, [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21507051/ The Trojan dynasty is dead and buried] , MSNBC/Sporting News, October 27, 2007, Accessed July 3, 2008.] The Trojans regrouped and salvaged their season, winning a share of the conference and the Rose Bowl, and by the end of the season were said to be playing the best football of anyone in the country.Eddie Pells, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200801010062 (6) USC 49, (13) Illinois 17] , Associated Press, January 1, 2008, Accessed May 30, 2008.] Arash Markazi, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/arash_markazi/01/02/rose.bowl/index.html Plague of allegiance] , SI.com, January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Gerry Ahern, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/news;_ylt=AkFX2mDbS.VOYNwfycvPJugcvrYF?slug=ga-rose010108&prov=yhoo&type=lgns USC back in title hunt?] , Yahoo! Sports, January 1, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/bowls07/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=3176724 Trojans look like nation's best with no one left to play] , ESPN.com, January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Art Spander, [http://cbs.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/10553727/rss USC makes its claim as best team in land] , CBSSports.com, January 1, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Larry Dorman, [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/02/sports/ncaafootball/02rose.html U.S.C. Cuts the Profile of a Title Contender] , "The New York Times", January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Injuries to key players, particularly quarterback John David Booty's broken finger during the Stanford game, had a significant impact over the season, leading to questions of how USC would have fared if injuries had not taken their toll.Bill Dwyre, [http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-dwyre2jan02,1,4319574.column Big Ten? Seems more like Big Zero] , "Los Angeles Times", January 2, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

USC finished the season ranked No. 2 in the Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the AP Poll, trading the respective No. 3 and No. 2 spots with Georgia, another team that finished with a strong 11–2 record and a dominating performance in its BCS Bowl game. The teams finished close to each other in the final polls: In the Coaches Poll, USC received 1380 votes to Georgia's 1370; and in the AP Poll Georgia received 1515 to USC's 1500. USC received one first-place vote in the final AP Poll. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=1&seasonType=3&pollId=1 AP Top 25 - Final (Dec. 16)] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 7, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2007&weekNumber=1&seasonType=3&pollId=2 USA Today Coaches Poll - Final (Dec. 16] , ESPN.com, Accessed July 7, 2008.] With LSU's dominating win over Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game, college football had its first two-loss national champion, and with teams like USC and Georgia locked out of playing LSU or Ohio State, the season served as another example for those advocating for some form of Football Bowl Subdivision playoff.Arash Markazi, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/arash_markazi/01/09/bcs.debate/index.html Great BCS debate] , SI.com, January 9, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Stewart Mandel, [http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/web/COM1118340/index.htm Anger management] , SI.com, January 9, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Ivan Maisel, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel--ivan&id=3187106 Adams needs to follow through if he's serious] , ESPN.com, January 8, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

The Trojans accomplished two unprecedented feats: USC became the first team to win six straight Pac-10 titles, and became the first team in major college football to achieve six straight 11-win seasons.Bill Dwyre, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/02/sports/sp-dwyre2 Carroll gives no signals for a fade pattern] , "Los Angeles Times", December 2, 2007, Accessed July 6, 2008.] Eddie Pells, [http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/recap?gid=200801010062 (6) USC 49, (13) Illinois 17] , Associated Press, January 1, 2008, Accessed May 30, 2008.] In addition, USC also remained tied for the most BCS Bowl appearances at six, all consecutive.

Immediately after the 2007–2008 bowl season, in early looks at the 2008 season, USC was ranked as the pre-season No. 4 ("Sports Illustrated") and No. 5 (ESPN.com) due to key player departures mitigated by the overall talent level.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/stewart_mandel/01/08/early.top10/index.html Georgia Rule] , SI.com, January 8, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Mark Schlabach, [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=3186264 Georgia takes top spot in early look at 2008's Top 25] , ESPN.com, January 8, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] "Sports Illustrated" soon revised its ranking to No. 3 after nearly all draft-eligible juniors decided to remain with the program instead of entering the NFL Draft.Stewart Mandel, [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/stewart_mandel/01/16/power.rankings/index.html Early look at '08] , SI.com, January 17, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

NFL Draft

Of all the Trojans' draft-eligible juniors, only offensive guard Chilo Rachal declared himself available for the 2008 NFL Draft.Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, [http://media.www.dailytrojan.com/media/storage/paper679/news/2008/01/18/Sports/Dont-Rush.Judgment.On.Rachals.Decision-3158174.shtml Don't rush judgment on Rachal's decision] , "Daily Trojan", January 18, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Twelve USC players, eleven seniors and a junior, were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, the most of any school in 2008: the seniors were offensive tackle Sam Baker, quarterback John David Booty, tight end Fred Davis, nose tackle Sedrick Ellis, defensive end Lawrence Jackson, offensive tackle Drew Radovich, linebacker Keith Rivers, center Matt Spanos, cornerback Terrell Thomas, running back Chauncey Washington, linebacker Thomas Williams, and the junior was offensive guard Rachal. [http://www.nflcombine.net/files/invlist/2008/school_sort.html 2008 Official Invite List] , NFL Scouting Combine, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

USC did well in the draft; ten players were taken overall and a school-record seven players were selected in the first two rounds, beating the previous record of five (1968 and 2006) and the most in the first round.Sam Farmer, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/27/sports/sp-nfl27 USC is big as the day is Long] , "Los Angeles Times", April 27, 2008, "Accessed April 28, 2008."] The first round selections were Ellis (seventh, New Orleans Saints), Rivers (ninth, Cincinnati Bengals), Baker (21st, Atlanta Falcons) and Jackson (28th, Seattle Seahawks); the second round picks were Rachal (39th, San Francisco 49ers), Davis (48th, Washington Redskins) and Thomas (63rd, New York Giants); the fifth round selections were Booty (137th, Minnesota Vikings) and Williams (155th, Jacksonville Jaguars); in the seventh round Washington was selected 213th by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Radovich signed as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings; Spanos signed with the Miami Dolphins.Judd Zulgad and Kevin Seifert, [http://www.startribune.com/sports/vikings/18321704.html Henderson's brother leads group of 16 free agents] , "Star Tribune", April 27, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Steve Wine, [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/2008-05-19-1321284345_x.htm OL McKinney joins Dolphins] , "Star Tribune", May 19, 2008, Accessed July 11, 2008.]

Awards

Senior Fred Davis became the first Trojan to win the John Mackey Award, awarded to the nation's top tight end.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/07/sports/sp-fbcrep7 Rose Bowl says no deal, for now] , "Los Angeles Times", December 7, 2007, Accessed July 7, 2008.] Five Trojans were selected to the various 2007 College Football All-America Teams. In addition to Fred Davis, tackle Sam Baker earned his third-straight spot on an All-American team. On the defense, tackle Sedrick Ellis, linebacker Keith Rivers, and safety Taylor Mays all earned All-American honors. Ellis was named the Pacific-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year by league coaches, and selected to the All-Conference first team defense along with defensive end Lawrence Jackson, linebackers Rivers and Rey Maualuga, and cornerback Kevin Ellison. The All-Conference first team offense included Davis, Baker, and offensive lineman Chilo Rachal. [http://www.pac-10.org/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/120307aal.html Pac-10 Football Awards and All-Conference Team Announced] , Pacific 10 Conference, December 3, 2007, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

The Trojans had nine players invited to participate in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama: Baker, quarterback John David Booty, Davis, Ellis, Jackson, offensive linemen Drew Radovich, Rivers, cornerback Terrell Thomas and running back Chauncey Washington.Gary Klein, [http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/01/sports/sp-uscrep1 Draft is next step for some players] , "Los Angeles Times", January 1, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.] All nine players were placed on the North team, which was coached by Lane Kiffin, who had coached for the Trojans between 2001–2006 before becoming the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. The nine players sent by USC were the second-most ever invited from one team in a single season, one less than the 10 players by Alabama in 1987 and tied with the nine players sent by Auburn in 1988, though the earlier selection rules favored the two locally-based schools.Chris Low, [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/draft08/columns/story?id=3207600 Former Trojans happy to be reunited with Kiffin] , ESPN.com, January 22, 2008, Accessed July 7, 2008.]

References

External links

* [http://usctrojans.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/usc-m-footbl-body.html USC Athletic Department's official site]
* [http://www.uscripsit.com/ USCRipsIt.com] : Official website of USC Trojans football.


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