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35--3 for USC (Déjà Vu for OSU)
AUSTIN MURPHY
September 22, 2008
With new passer Mark Sanchez and an unproven offensive line performing well in their first important test, top-ranked USC was its usual brilliant self in becoming the latest team to expose Ohio State in a big-game situation
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September 22, 2008

35--3 For Usc (déjà Vu For Osu)

With new passer Mark Sanchez and an unproven offensive line performing well in their first important test, top-ranked USC was its usual brilliant self in becoming the latest team to expose Ohio State in a big-game situation

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In this case it was Mark, who had been testing his knee. "I think I can practice today!" he declared. To be safe, the trainers sat him for 11 days. But that pep, that eagerness to get back into the fray, is vintage Sanchez. When he finally returned to the huddle, it gave the offense a palpable lift. "I'm not saying there won't be times when he'll get too pumped," says Carroll. "But I like his way."

The coach is also delighted by Sanchez's ability to move in the pocket, to spin and scramble and buy time to keep a play alive. On his final touchdown pass last Saturday, Sanchez felt pressure from his right. Carroll provides the play-by-play: "Big blitz coming, we pick it up—kind of. We've got guys on guys, but it's starting to break down. [Sanchez] moves, like he might have to avoid the rush, then realizes he doesn't have to and boom, fires a touchdown pass. As opposed to what he could have done."

As opposed, in other words, to taking a sack, or throwing the ball away, as might have happened in the recent past. But it's 2008. The Trojans' defense is ferocious, and the offense, as Carroll says, is fun again—not a good thing for USC's opponents. These guys are never more dangerous than when they're having fun.

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