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The New York Sun

It is a measure of Pete Carroll’s success at USC that the Trojans were seen as a disappointment in going 11-2 and winning the Rose Bowl last year. Such are the expectations surrounding a program that went 37-2 from 2003-05, with a pair of national titles. But as dominant as USC has been, the Trojans could not overcome a banged-up starting quarterback (Mark Sanchez) and a schedule that saw them face Oregon, Cal, and Arizona State, all on the road.

Fall camp has been trying for Carroll, as Sanchez missed time with a dislocated kneecap, and standout tailback Joe McKnight, the star of the Rose Bowl rout of Illinois, suffered a variety of injuries. USC is also plenty green, returning just 11 starters. Seven of those are on defense, however, where the Trojans have high-round NFL prospects at every level, including defensive tackle Fili Moala, linebackers Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga, and safety Taylor Mays.

Arizona State, coming off a surprising 10-win season in Dennis Erickson’s first year, still has quarterback Rudy Carpenter and a potent offense, but the Sun Devils’ leaky line must protect him. Oregon and Cal could also be in the mix if they can find consistency at quarterback.

The New York Sun

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