The Southern California Trojans spoil Arizona’s homecoming with a 17-10 victory in Tucson. Though the Wildcats had developed a reputation for sinking top 25 opponents in the desert sand, the Trojans defense ensured that the 5th ranked visitors would leave on their feet.
With Arizona’s defense appearing up to the task, limiting USC to their lowest scoring output on the season, the Trojans' defensive unit flexed their superiority. USC stretched their scoreless string to 11, shutting out Arizona’s offense in the first quarter. The string was finally snapped on a Wildcat’s field goal to begin the second. The field goal was set up by a Mark Sanchez interception that left the Cats sitting in the red zone and looking for the lead. The men of Troy held, and Arizona settled for a tying 3. A third quarter fumble by Mark Sanchez set up the Cats’ only touchdown, with Nicholas Grisby running it in from 5 yards out.
In all, the Trojans limited Arizona’s high powered offense to just 188 total yards, with just 88 in the air. USC moved the ball well, but failed several times to capitalize movement with points on the board. Mark Sanchez went 21 of 36 for 216 yards and a touchdown, but his two turnovers kept the hosts hanging around anticipating a homecoming after party. Stafon Johnson led the Trojans in rushing (83 yards), and Joe McKnight was used sparingly.
Taylor Mays said before the season began that defense is what this team thrives on. He was correct, as the defensive collapse in the first half in Corvallis, and a strong performance in every game since, is the difference between USC remaining in both the conference and national title hunt or packing their bags early for the Holiday Bowl.