|USC Legends News|
Southern California's loss two weeks ago hindered the team's hopes to appear in a BCS game. Knowing that another loss would likely shut out the team for the first time in six years, the No. 7 Trojans face off with 21st-ranked Oregon in Los Angeles on Saturday to open a three-game home stretch.
This is arguably the team's toughest stretch of the season for USC (7-1, 5-1), which also plays No. 8 California and No. 9 Notre Dame at home following this game before a season-ending contest against crosstown rival UCLA at the Rose Bowl.
"Everything is going to happen in L.A.," said Carroll, who is 17-0 in November in six years as Trojans coach. "It's been a long year on the road with a lot of trips and stuff. Now we have the benefit of being home the rest of the season, and we have to make the most of it."
The Trojans' last loss at home came against Stanford in 2001 - Carroll's first season at USC - when the team finished 6-6 and lost to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl, the team's last non-BCS bowl game.
USC, which is currently ranked seventh in the BCS standings, also lost on the road to Oregon that season, but has since won the last two meetings between the two teams, including a 45-13 rout Sept. 24, 2005.
Though the Trojans chances for the BCS title game are slim, they still have a good chance to represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl. USC trails Cal by one game in the conference standings, with the winner likely to play the loser of the Ohio State-Michigan game in Pasadena.
"We can't control what happens," receiver Dwayne Jarrett said. "The only thing we can control is us. All we can do is keep winning and playing hard and at the end of the season we'll see what happens."
USC is coming off a 42-0 rout of Stanford last Saturday. Quarterback John David Booty threw a season-low 21 passes and completed just 12, but had three touchdowns - all in the third quarter - while Terrell Thomas scored on a 71-yard blocked field goal return.
The win came a week after a 33-31 loss to Oregon State, the team's first regular-season loss in more than three years.
"People thought after that loss to Oregon State, we'd just tumble and fall," linebacker Rey Maualuga said. "I feel like we came out and made a statement. We're coming and we're hungry."
This is the first time USC has hosted Oregon (7-2, 4-2) since a 28-17 loss in 2000.
The Ducks (7-2, 4-2) are coming off a 34-14 win over Washington last week, giving them back-to-back wins for the first time since starting the season 4-0. Quarterback Dennis Dixon was 14-of-25 for 109 yards and two interceptions, but Jonathan Stewart and the running game more than compensated, accounting for 316 yards.
Stewart led the attack with 25 carries for 159 yards and two touchdowns, while Jeremiah Johnson added eight carries for 22 yards and a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Stewart has been bothered by a sore ankle and ribs, but his 159 yards were the most since Sept. 2, when he totaled 168 against Stanford.
"I felt really good," Stewart said. "I know how tough I am and what my body's feeling like. I've been pressing through a lot of stuff, and it's finally starting to break though. This is the healthiest I've been since Stanford."
While Stewart's return provides a big boost, Dixon's role in the offense seems has been negligible. He hasn't thrown for more than 150 yards in four consecutive games, and his two interceptions resulted in Washington's scores.
The Trojans lead the all-time series 35-15-2, but Oregon is 4-3 in the last seven meetings.
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