Looking back at No. 9 USC's 38-0 victory over Notre Dame.
As expected: USC's defense dominated a Notre Dame offense that ranks last in the nation and took advantage of the Fighting Irish's porous offensive line to repeatedly pressure or sack first-time starting quarterback Evan Sharpley. Coach Pete Carroll said Sunday that statisticians incorrectly credited the Trojans with only five sacks, missing others recorded by Alex Morrow and Fili Moala.
Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez eliminated many of the mistakes he made in his first start against Arizona and the Trojans ran the ball effectively. Tight end Fred Davis (five catches, 40 yards, one touchdown) remained the Trojans' go-to receiver and freshman Joe McKnight continued to show big-play capability with a 51-yard touchdown run.
The Trojans moved up four spots in the Associated Press media poll and two spots to 12th in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
Unexpected: Sanchez figured to play better after getting his initial start out of the way against Arizona, but he surpassed expectations by passing for four touchdowns without an interception in his first start on the road.
Tailback Stafon Johnson, who had not practiced in team drills for two weeks, returned and averaged nearly six yards a carry. Receiver Vidal Hazelton caught three passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Stepped up: Sanchez completed 21 of 38 passes, avoided sacks and scrambled for a first down. His completion percentage could have been better if receivers and running backs had held onto several catchable balls.
Redshirt freshman Butch Lewis started in place of injured left tackle Sam Baker, did not give up a sack and helped spring McKnight for his touchdown.
Linebacker Brian Cushing returned from an ankle injury, linebacker Rey Maualuga played despite a hip injury and linebacker Luthur Brown had six tackles.
Stepped back: USC was penalized eight times and had a punt blocked.
"We had three [penalties] on the punt-return team, which has been a source of problems," Carroll said. "It's coming up again with young guys. We have to make some changes to get this alleviated. There's too much field position lost."
Coach's quote: Carroll on the tailback rotation: "It's taken us seven games to finally feel like we figured out how we want to use our guys.. . . We've really searched to try and get the right mix."
Injury report: Quarterback John David Booty said he would practice this week without the receiver's glove he had been using to protect his broken right middle finger.
Guard Chilo Rachal (knee) said he would definitely play against Oregon and Baker (hamstring) is expected to try. Carroll said center Kris O'Dowd (knee) and tackles Charles Brown (knee) and Thomas Herring (knee) would try to practice.
Looking ahead to the game vs. No. 5 Oregon (Saturday, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore., noon, FSN).
First look: After facing one of the nation's worst offenses, USC goes up against one of the best. The Ducks average a whopping 550 yards and 46.6 points a game.
Oregon is coming off a 55-34 victory over Washington, a game in which the Ducks rolled up a school-record 465 yards rushing.
"It's one of the most high-powered offenses we've faced since we've been here," said Carroll, who also expects Autzen Stadium to be rocking. "They can score really fast, [running back Jonathan] Stewart is ridiculously effective right now, totally on fire."
Topic of the week: In case you missed it, USC has a budding quarterback controversy.
Booty said that he expects to start after missing the last two games. Sanchez believes he has earned the nod.
"We're just going to wait it out until it feels right," said Carroll, who is in no hurry to let Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti know which quarterback to prepare for.
Season log (6-1)
Sept. 1: Idaho (1-7); Won, 38-10.
Sept. 15: at then-No. 14 Nebraska (4-4); Won, 49-31.
Sept. 22: Washington State (2-5, 0-4 in Pac-10); Won, 47-14.
Sept. 29: Washington (2-5, 0-4);
Oct. 6: Stanford (3-4, 2-3); Lost, 24-23.
Oct. 13: Arizona (2-6, 1-4); Won, 20-13.
Oct. 20: Notre Dame (1-7); Won, 38-0; The Fighting Irish defeated UCLA but suffered their worst loss in the history of their series against USC. Go figure.
Saturday, at Oregon (6-1, 3-1); Autzen Stadium crowd could set decibel record if Ducks continue high-flying ways against nation's third-ranked defense.
Nov. 3: Oregon State (4-3, 2-2)
Nov. 10: at California (5-2, 2-2)
Nov. 22: at Arizona State (7-0, 4-0)
Dec. 1: UCLA (5-2, 4-0)