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USC's convincing win thrusts Trojans back into title race

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Just about everything seems to be breaking
right for Southern California these days.

Two weeks after a loss at Oregon State appeared to eliminate USC
from the national championship picture, the Trojans are solidly
entrenched again thanks to a pair of convincing victories and a
series of upsets around the country.

Chauncey Washington rushed for a career-high 119 yards and three
touchdowns, USC held No. 21 Oregon's explosive offense in check,
and the Trojans celebrated homecoming by beating the mistake-prone
Ducks 35-10 Saturday night.


"All in all, a really strong win for us," USC coach Pete
Carroll said. "It puts us in a really good position.

"We controlled the game throughout. There were a couple of
questions in the third quarter, they might come back, but the
defense wouldn't allow it. The guys did a good job in the red zone.
"

The Trojans (8-1, 6-1 Pac-10) extended their winning streak at
the Los Angeles Coliseum to 31 games, and Carroll's teams are 18-0
in November since he became USC's coach in 2001.

Carroll said following USC's 33-31 loss to the Beavers that it
might be a mistake to count the Trojans out of the BCS race.
Carroll has proven to be correct, but even he couldn't have
forecast all the upsets.

USC was ranked ninth after its 38-game regular-season winning
streak was snapped Oct. 28, but five higher-ranked teams have been
knocked off since that time. And a sixth, Florida, barely avoided
being beaten.

The Trojans, ranked seventh entering this weekend, figure to
move up to third or fourth when the new rankings are released. Ohio
State and Michigan, ranked 1-2, meet next Saturday, with the winner
assured of the No. 1 ranking in the final BCS standings.

If the Trojans win their final three games -- against No. 8
California, No. 9 Notre Dame and crosstown rival UCLA -- they would
seem to have a very good chance of finishing second.

"It was no secret that this game and the following three are a
big test, not only for the defense, but for the whole team," said
USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson, who had three of the Trojans'
four sacks. "Coach kind of called some people out and we had
decided that this was November and this is where everything is won
or lost and the guys put things in perspective."

The Cal-USC winner next Saturday night at the Coliseum clinches
the Pac-10 title.

USC's John David Booty completed 16 of 25 passes for 176 yards
and one touchdown with one interception. Steve Smith caught seven
passes for 88 yards, and Dwayne Jarrett made six receptions for 54
yards and one TD.

Turnovers deep in Ducks territory led to USC's second and third
touchdowns, and Oregon (7-3, 4-3) didn't resemble the team that
averaged 36.3 points per game in their previous nine games.

"A lot of people don't understand how good USC's defense is,"
Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "Their defensive line played
great."

Dennis Dixon completed 15 of 23 passes for 130 yards with one
interception, and Brady Leaf hit on 13-of-22 for 104 yards and one
touchdown. Jonathan Stewart was held to 42 yards on 14 carries.

Washington, who carried 15 times, scored on runs of 3 and 43
yards late in the third quarter to give USC a 28-3 lead. Dallas
Sartz recovered an errant pitchout from Dixon to Stewart at the
Ducks 12-yard line to set up the first touchdown.

Leaf threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Stewart early in the
fourth quarter on fourth-and-goal. The play was reviewed twice --
first being reversed because Stewart stepped out of bounds before
making the catch, then being upheld because the pass was deflected
by a USC player.

The Trojans responded by moving 80 yards on five plays, scoring
on a 12-yard pass from Booty to Jarrett to complete the scoring.

USC went ahead for good by scoring twice early in the second
quarter for a 14-0 lead.

Freshman C.J. Gable's 2-yard run capped an 80-yard drive, and
Taylor Mays, another freshman, intercepted a pass by Dixon and
returned it 38 yards to the Oregon 7-yard line on the first play
following the kickoff. Washington scored two plays later on a
5-yard run.

USC blew an opportunity later in the period, reaching the Oregon
39 before Washington was held to no gain on fourth-and-1. The Ducks
reached the Trojans 6 before Paul Martinez was wide left on a
23-yard field goal with 8 seconds left before halftime.

Oregon moved deep into USC territory again on its first
possession of the third quarter, but had to settle for a 22-yard
field goal by Martinez to move within 11 points.

Oregon drove 72 yards on 17 plays following the opening kickoff,
but came up empty when Dixon was held to no gain on a fourth-and-1
play at the USC 13-yard line.

The Trojans responded with a 72-yard drive of their own to the
Oregon 15 before Blair Phillips intercepted Booty's pass over the
middle.

The game, played before a sellout crowd of 92,000, was Oregon's
first at the Coliseum since the 2000 season, when they won a 28-17
decision during Paul Hackett's last season as USC's coach. The
Trojans, who went 19-18 in Hackett's three years, are 62-11 since
Carroll took over.