September 17, 1999

No. 17 USC Is Next Challenge for SDSU


Game 3 San Diego State Aztecs (1-1) at
Southern California Trojans (1-0)
Sept. 18, 1999 12:30 p.m. LA Coliseum


The San Diego State Aztecs, 1-1 after last Saturday's loss at Illinois, faces a stiff challenge this week in the form of the Southern California Trojans. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The game will be regionally televised by ABC. The USC contest is one of three straight road games for the Aztecs. SDSU lost at Illinois (Big Ten) last week and travels to Kansas (Big XII) next week.

The loss at Illinois ended SDSU's four-game regular-season winning streak and dropped the Aztecs to 8-2 over the last 10 regular-season games.

San Diego State has not lost consecutive games since last September when the Aztecs opened with losses to Wisconsin, Southern California and Arizona before closing the regular-season at 7-4.

This week's matchup marks the third meeting between SDSU and Southern California. The two schools met last season in Los Angeles, with USC coming away with a 35-6 victory.

On Sept. 5, 1992, the two schools fought to a 31-all draw in the season opener. The Aztecs came from 14 points down in the second half, thanks to Marshall Faulk. He finished the game with 220 yards on 27 carries with three touchdowns.

USC began its season overpowering Hawaii with a 62-7 rout. The loss extended Hawaii's losing streak to 19 at the time. The game was never in doubt as Southern Cal scored on its first six possessions, leading 41-0 at halftime.

Sophomore quarterback Carson Palmer and tailback Malaefou MacKenzie accounted for five touchdowns in USC's dominating performance. Palmer completed 14-of-16 passes for 167 yards and one score. He added another touchdown on a nine-yard bootleg around the right end. MacKenzie, scored three times on short plunges.

Tailback Chad Morton led all rushers with 19 carries for 95 yards and one score. Teammate R. Jay Soward hauled in three catches for 34 yards and returned three punts for 30 yards with a long of 15.

The Men of Troy are coming off an 8-5 season, including a third-place finish in the Pac 10. Unlike last year when USC's defense was the strength of team, the offense is looked upon to lead the way in 1999. USC possesses three of the top skill position players in the country in tailback Chad Morton, wide receiver R. Jay Soward and quarterback Carson Palmer.

The 1998 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick Morton, rushed for 985 yards and ranked second in the Pac-10 in yards per game (96.7). Soward, a 1999 preseason All-American and Fred Biletnikoff award candidate, is one of the nation's most explosive players. In his career, Soward has scored a touchdown every 6.9 times he touchs the ball. A year ago he caught 44 passes for a team-high 679 yards with six touchdowns.

Palmer became only the second true freshman to start at quarterback at USC. In 13 games, he completed 130-of-235 for 1,755 yards and seven touchdowns. Southern Cal's defense has a hard act to follow. In 1999, the Trojans led the Pac-10 in total defense (332.5), pass efficiency defense, (91.2, good enough for third nationally) and scoring defense.

The defensive line appears to be USC's best unit. It is led by 1999 pre-season All-Amercian defensive tackle Ennis Davis, who won All-Pac-10 first team honors last fall. He is joined by senior Aaron Williams, who started the last five games of 1998, compiling 44 tackles and two forced fumbles.

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