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USC FOOTBALL FYI

Return to Columbus is special for USC's Pete Carroll

Trojans' Friday walk-through marks the coach's first time in Ohio Stadium since 1979, when he was an assistant on Buckeyes' staff.

September 12, 2009|Gary Klein

COLUMBUS, OHIO — sIt took 30 years, but Pete Carroll finally returned to Ohio Stadium as the third-ranked Trojans prepared for tonight's game against eighth-ranked Ohio State.

Carroll was a 28-year-old secondary coach on Earl Bruce's 1979 Ohio State staff. After the Buckeyes lost to USC in the 1980 Rose Bowl, Carroll left for North Carolina State.

So Friday's visit to the Horseshoe for the Trojans' typically playful stadium walk-through stirred memories.

Carroll recalled looking out his office window three decades ago and seeing former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes walking across the street.

"I went running out there across the parking lot to catch him and intercept him and kind of introduce myself and talk to him for the first time -- just like a little kid, man, which I was at the time," Carroll said. "That was very cool to come back. . . . It's exciting to be here."

Stating his case

Tonight's game also is a homecoming of sorts for punter Billy O'Malley, the only Ohio native on the Trojans' roster.

O'Malley grew up near Cleveland but never attended an Ohio State game in Columbus.

"I'm excited to see what it's like on game day," said O'Malley, who will be kicking in front of a crowd of more than 100,000.

Though he attended high school in the Buckeye state, O'Malley said the exploits of Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush turned him into a Trojans fan. He applied to USC and made the team as a walk-on.

O'Malley, a fourth-year junior, edged out junior college transfer Jake Harfman for the punting job at the end of training camp.

O'Malley punted six times in the opener against San Jose State, averaging 34.7 yards a kick.

Carroll said he would like to see an increase in that average against the Buckeyes.

"We need to do better," Carroll said.

Harfman, who played at Chino Hills Ayala, will handle kickoffs and also possibly field-goal attempts that are beyond Jordan Congdon's range. Harfman attended Urbana University in Ohio as a freshman in 2007.

O'Dowd in,

Tyler out

Kristofer O'Dowd will start at center and Jeff Byers will move to left guard.

Carroll said Butch Lewis, who started the opener at left guard, would be available to play after recovering from an ankle injury suffered on Tuesday.

Tailback Marc Tyler won't play because of a toe sprain suffered in practice on Thursday. The status of safety Drew McAllister (hip) will be determined at game time.

Quick hits

USC is 12-9-1 against Ohio State and has won the last six games. However, the Trojans are 3-4 against the Buckeyes in Columbus. . . . USC is 67-27-2 against Big Ten Conference opponents. . . . Free tickets for a 3-D showing of the game at the Galen Center are no longer available, a USC official said.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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