8:00 PM ET, October 14, 2006
Los Angeles Coliseum, LOS ANGELES, CA
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Just because No. 3 Southern California has been pushed by unranked teams the past two weeks doesn't mean the Trojans are struggling.
Not according to Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter, and based on what he's seen of the Trojans, his opinion should be worth something.
"USC is playing at a very high level," he said. "To me, USC is still every bit as good as they've always been."
If that's the case, it doesn't bode well for the Sun Devils, who try to snap a six-game losing streak against the Trojans on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
USC has outscored ASU 202-82 in five games since Pete Carroll became the Trojans' coach and Koetter took over the Sun Devils' program in 2001.
The count was 164-54 before last year's 38-28 triumph by the Trojans, who rallied from a 21-3 halftime deficit to win on the road.
"It was a real frustrating game -- obviously a hard loss," ASU tight end Zach Miller recalled. "That's going to give us some fire. We want some revenge, we know we can play with them. We played with them last year."
That was one of USC's closest calls during a 26-game winning streak against Pac-10 opponents.
"Arizona State's absolutely going to be ready," Trojans linebacker Brian Cushing said. "They're a good team, we know that. They've got weapons. The offense is very similar to last year, and we remember what they did in that game."
USC (5-0, 3-0 Pac-10) is coming off a pair of six-point wins -- 28-22 over Washington State and 26-20 over Washington. The Trojans were favored by three touchdowns in both games -- the same margin by which they're favored over ASU.
The Sun Devils (3-2, 0-2) had a bye last weekend after being routed by No. 10 California 49-21 and No. 18 Oregon 48-13 the previous two weeks.
"They've run into two really high-rolling football teams in Cal and Oregon back-to-back," Carroll said. "They've got a quarterback that led the nation in throwing last year and he's sitting there ready to break out at any time.
"They're just one game from getting back on track again."
ASU's Rudy Carpenter has completed 77 of 142 passes for 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He threw for 2,273 yards and 17 TDs with two interceptions as a freshman last year. leading the nation in efficiency rating.
"Rudy is going through a little bit of a rough stretch right now," Koetter said. "It's not uncommon. Our timing has been off."
While Carpenter has struggled, tailback Ryan Torain has thrived, gaining a career-high 191 yards against Cal and averaging 6.3 yards per carry. ASU is rushing for an average of 172.8-yards per game to rank second in the Pac-10. USC, led by freshman Emmanuel Moody, is averaging 162.5 yards on the ground.
John David Booty, in his first season as USC's starting quarterback, has thrown for 1,209 yards and 11 touchdowns with three interceptions.
Dwayne Jarrett, the Trojans' All-American wide receiver, is expected to return to a full-time role against ASU. Limited because of a separated shoulder that Jarrett initially said was sprained, he made one reception against Washington. Patrick Turner picked up the slack, catching 12 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
The status of Steve Smith, the other starting wide receiver, was in question because of an ankle injury.
"Booty's doing a really good job," Koetter said. "Jarrett's one of the best receivers to play in the Pac-10. They are really playing well defensively, and they're winning games a little bit differently than the last four years."
USC has won 29 straight home games and 50 of 52 overall, but right now Carroll is looking for improvement.
"I'm disappointed in certain aspects of production," he said. "Really, in particular about defense and getting the football -- we need to get that done and we need to give the ball back to our offense and put them in good field positions, and take advantage of what that gives you."
USC has forced nine turnovers this season while committing five. The Trojans have been among the national leaders in turnover ratio in each of the past five years.
Top 25 Overview
USC will look to extend its winning streaks of 29 home games, 26 Pac-10 games and 20 conference home contests -- all league records -- against the Sun Devils, who have lost their last two games by a combined 63 points.
|Avg Points Allowed||27.2||15.0|