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November 12, 2006

USC stays in title hunt with rout of Oregon

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LOS ANGELES - Southern California appeared to be eliminated from the national championship picture two weeks ago after losing at Oregon State.

Two convincing victories and a series of upsets around the country since that time have thrust the Trojans back into the race.

Chauncey Washington rushed for a career-high 119 yards and three touchdowns, USC held No. 21 Oregon's explosive offense in check, and the Trojans celebrated homecoming by beating the mistake-prone Ducks 35-10 Saturday night.

The Trojans (8-1, 6-1 Pac-10) extended their winning streak at the Los Angeles Coliseum to 31 games, and Pete Carroll's teams are 18-0 in November since he became USC's coach in 2001.

USC was ranked ninth after its 38-game regular-season winning streak was snapped Oct. 28, but five higher-ranked teams have been knocked off since that time. And a sixth, Florida, barely avoided being beaten.

The Trojans, ranked seventh entering this weekend, figure to move up to third or fourth when the new rankings are released. They face No. 8 California (8-2, 6-1) next Saturday night at the Coliseum, with the winner clinching the Pac-10 title.

USC's John David Booty completed 16 of 25 passes for 176 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Steve Smith caught seven passes for 88 yards, and Dwayne Jarrett made six receptions for 54 yards and one TD. Lawrence Jackson had three of USC's four sacks.

Turnovers deep in Ducks territory led to USC's second and third touchdowns, and Oregon (7-3, 4-3) didn't resemble the team that averaged 36.3 points per game in their previous nine games.

Dennis Dixon completed 15 of 23 passes for 130 yards with one interception, and Brady Leaf hit on 14-of-23 for 123 yards and one touchdown. Jonathan Stewart was held to 43 yards on 14 carries.

Washington, who carried 15 times, scored on runs of 3 and 43 yards late in the third quarter to give USC a 28-3 lead. Dallas Sartz recovered an errant pitchout from Dixon to Stewart at the Ducks 12-yard line to set up the first touchdown.

Leaf threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Stewart early in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-goal. The play was reviewed twice - first being reversed because Stewart stepped out of bounds before making the catch, then being upheld because the pass was deflected by a USC player.

The Trojans responded by moving 80 yards on five plays, scoring on a 12-yard pass from Booty to Jarrett to complete the scoring.

USC went ahead for good by scoring twice early in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead.

Freshman C.J. Gable's 2-yard run capped an 80-yard drive, and Taylor Mays, another freshman, intercepted a pass by Dixon and returned it 38 yards to the Oregon 7-yard line on the first play following the kickoff. Washington scored two plays later on a 5-yard run.

USC blew an opportunity later in the period, reaching the Oregon 39 before Washington was held to no gain on fourth-and-1. The Ducks reached the Trojans 6 before Paul Martinez was wide left on a 23-yard field goal with 8 seconds left before halftime.

Oregon moved deep into USC territory again on its first possession of the third quarter, but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Martinez to move within 11 points.

Oregon drove 72 yards on 17 plays following the opening kickoff, but came up empty when Dixon was held to no gain on a fourth-and-1 play at the USC 13-yard line.

The Trojans responded with a 72-yard drive of their own to the Oregon 15 before Blair Phillips intercepted Booty's pass over the middle.

The game, played before a sellout crowd of 92,000, was Oregon's first at the Coliseum since the 2000 season, when they won a 28-17 decision during Paul Hackett's last season as USC's coach. The Trojans, who went 19-18 in Hackett's three years, are 62-11 since Carroll took over.

For more coverage of the USC Trojans, check out USCFootball.com; for more coverage of the Oregon Ducks, check out DuckSportsAuthority.com.



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