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NCAA Football Preview (Washington St-USC)
Posted: Sat September 13, 1997 at 10:40 a.m EDTWashington St (1-0) at USC (0-1) 6:30 pm EDT
Southern California hopes that its strong showing against Florida State in its opener was not a fluke while Wahington State attempts to do something it has never accomplished when the two square off in Los Angeles. The Trojans held (0-1) their own against Florida State before dropping a 14-7 decision, but it is the Cougars (1-0, 1-0 Pac-10) who have a chance at school history. Washington State, which opened its season with a 37-34 victory over UCLA, has never beaten both Los Angeles schools in the same season. In order to accomplish the task, the Cougars must snap a nine-game losing streak to the Trojans. USC leads the series 48-5-4, its best winning percentage against any Pac-10 team. Washington State has dropped 15 of the last 16 meetings, with the only win coming in 1986. USC, which is 35-6-3 in conference openers at home, has not started a season 0-2 since 1960. "Washington State had a good win at home against UCLA, and with the bye they have had some rest and been able to focus on us," USC coach John Robinson said. "This game is going to everything we can handle. It's a must-win game for us. We look forward to getting on the winning side this season." Last season's contest saw USC pull out a thrilling 29-24 victory in Pullman. Delon Washington's 17-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter gave the Trojans the lead and Matt Keneley's sack of Ryan Leaf at the USC 23-yard line forced a fumble that Sammy Knight recovered with 30 seconds left to seal the victory. Sophomore quarterback John Fox played well in his debut, completing 18-of-32 passes for 159 yards against Florida State. Washington will also face a stiff test as the Cougars' rush defense has held 25 of its last 46 opponents under the century mark. In all, only three players have broken the 100-yard mark against Washington State in the last two seasons. For the Cougars, Leaf had a huge game against the Bruins, completing 17-of-30 passes for 381 yards. Nian Taylor, who had five receptions for 200 yards, and Chris Jackson both hauled in long touchdown passes as Wahington State rolled up 529 yards of total offense. The Cougars split four games against ranked opponents in 1996.
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