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ASU football plays host to #11 USC on Thanksgiving night

November 19, 2007
Date: Thursday, November 22, 2007
Kickoff: 6:00 p.m. MT
Site: Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium (71,706) - Tempe, Ariz.
Television: ESPN
Play-by-Play: Chris Fowler
Color: Doug Flutie and Craig James
Sideline: Erin Andrews
Sun Devil Radio: KTAR 620 AM & KMVP/KTAR 92.3 FM
Play-by-Play: Tim Healey
Color: Former ASU QB and 1987 Rose Bowl MVP Jeff Van Raaphorst
Sideline: Amy Bender
National Radio Play-by-Play: Roxy Bernstein
National Radio Color: Gino Torretta
National Radio Sideline: Jon Bloom

• 2007 marks the 18th time in school history ASU has won at least nine games
Rudy Carpenter is the fourth QB in ASU history to pass for 2,000 yards three straight years
• Senior WR Rudy Burgess is the only active player in the Pac-10 Conference and one of three in the nation to have surpassed 1,000 yards rushing, receiving and returning during his career
• The Sun Devil defense has forced a turnover in 12 straight games, dating back to last season
• The ASU defense has allowed an average of 1.2 points in the fourth quarter this season
• Arizona State is bowl eligible for the fourth straight season, the second time in school history it has done that
• ASU has not suffered back-to-back losing seasons in 59 years, the fourth-longest active streak in the nation

TEMPE, Ariz. - Coming off a 24-20 win over UCLA at the Rose Bowl, Arizona State returns to Tempe to host the USC Trojans in a Pac-10 Conference matchup on Thanksgiving. The Sun Devils are 9-1 and 5-1 in the Pac-10. USC is 8-2, 5-2 in the Pac-10 after a 24-17 victory over California in Berkeley on Nov. 10.

The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 12 of ASU's football games live on its 10-station radio network, including flagship station Sports 620 KTAR AM. Tim Healey (play-by-play) and former Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst) will call the action.

ESPN will televise the Sun Devils meeting with USC to a national audience. Chris Fowler will handle play-by-play while former Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie and Craig James will serve as color analysts. Erin Andrews will patrol the sidelines.

The USC game will be broadcast nationally on radio. Roxy Bernstein will call the action while former Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta will handle the color. Jon Bloom will handle sideline duties.

Saturday will be the 24th meeting between the Sun Devils and the Trojans. USC leads the all-time series 14-9, including a 7-5 record in Tempe. ASU has dropped seven straight games to the Trojans, including last season's 28-21 loss at the L.A. Coliseum.

The Sun Devils come into the match up with USC ranked #6 in the USA Today Poll and the BCS Standings and #7 in the AP Poll. The Trojans are ranked 11th in the AP Poll and the BCS and 12th in the USA Today Poll.

The Sun Devils once again had to come from behind, falling behind 10-0 to the Bruins early before storming back to claim a 24-20 win. Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance each ran for scores and Rudy Carpenter threw for another as ASU outscored the Bruins 14-7 in the second half to pick up the win.

• Arizona State's opponent scored first for the sixth time this year and ASU trailed at halftime for the fifth time this season
Keegan Herring's 71-yard touchdown run was his third TD run of 70+ yards this season
• The Sun Devils won at the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1996.

Rudy Carpenter continues to be one of the top QBs in the Pac-10 Conference. Carpenter ranks second to WSU's Alex Brink, who is a year of eligibility ahead of Carpenter, in passing attempts, completed passes, passing yards, touchdown passes and 300 yard games. Carpenter now has 60 career touchdown passes and has thrown for 7,324 yards in his his three seasons at ASU. Carpenter has been named a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top QB.

Rudy Carpenter now has 60 touchdown passes in his career. He is only the fourth Sun Devil all-time to throw at least 60 touchdowns, joining Andrew Walter (85), Jake Plummer (65) and Danny White (64). The 60 career TD passes are tied for 15th-most in Pac-10 history with Oregon's Bill Musgrave. With his touchdown toss against the Bruins, Carpenter passed Oregon's Joey Harrington and Washington State's Ryan Leaf, who both threw 59 career scoring strikes. Rudy is one TD shy of Oregon's Kellen Clemens, who is currently with the New York Jets, for 14th-place in Pac-10 history.

With his 200 yards through the air against the Bruins, Rudy Carpenter now has 7,324 career passing yards as a Sun Devil. He is only the third Sun Devil to ever pass the 7,000 yard mark, joining Andrew Walter (10,617) and Jake Plummer (8,827). He has also topped the 2,000 yard mark for the season, the third straight year he has achieved that milestone. He has 2,528 yards passing so far in 2007. He is the fourth Sun Devil in history to pass for at least 2,000 yards three straight times. He joins Jeff Van Raaphorst (1984-86), Jake Plummer (1994-96) and Andrew Walter (2002-04) on that list.

WR Chris McGaha set a new career high in receptions and receiving yards against the Bruins, hauling in nine passes for 123 yards. He has 41 catches for the season. Of those 41 receptions, 33 of them have gone for a first down, including seven of the nine against UCLA. Though he has yet to find the end zone, 80% of his catches have resulted in a Sun Devil first down.

Thanks to his 116-yard day against the Bruins, Keegan Herring picked up his third 100-yard game of the season and sixth of his career. It marked the sixth time this season ASU has had a 100-yard rusher in a game. ASU is now 250-49-5 all-time when it has a 100-yard rusher, including 6-0 this season.

Troy Nolan picked up his fifth interception of the year against Washington on Oct. 13. The five picks by Nolan is the most by a Sun Devil in a single season since Nijrell Eason had five in 2000.

Rudy Burgess is one of only three active FBS players and one of only 14 FBS players all-time to top the 1,000-yard mark in rushing, receiving and return yardage. In his career, Burgess has 1,092 yards on the ground, 1,438 yards through the air and 1,378 return yards on both punts and kickoffs. He has scored 18 times as a Sun Devil, six rushing and 12 receiving. He also threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Derek Hagan in 2005 against Washington State. Hagan set the school record for career touchdown receptions on that pass.

Groza Award candidate Thomas Weber has begun his ASU career like no other kicker before him. The redshirt freshman kicker had his school record of 17-straight successful field goal attempts end against the Ducks on Nov. 3. Before missing wide right on a 32-yard attempt at the end of the second quarter, Weber had connected on a 19-yarder and a 34-yarder to give him 17 field goals in a row. Not only was that the best streak in ASU history to begin a career, it's also a school record for most consecutive made field goals. Alan (1987) and Luis (1981) Zendejas shared the previous record of nine, and Mike Richey held the previous record of consecutive field goals to begin a career at eight in 1989 and 1990. Weber continued to shine against the Bruins, booting a 53-yarder at the end of the first half to set a new career long. It was his 19th made field goal of the year, putting him two shy of tying the Pac-10 freshman record held by Arizona's Gary Coston in 1986. The NCAA record for field goals by a freshman is also within reach, as Weber needs only four more to tie Collin Mackie of South Carolina, who went 23-30 in 1987.

Weber showed the Bruins he can punt as well as kick, booming 10 punts for an average of 39.5. He also hit a career long 63-yarder. He pinned UCLA inside the 20 four times, including his final punt of the game, which went out of bounds at the UCLA 2-yard line with 41 seconds to play.

Weber's 19 field goals so far this season are the fourth-most field goals made in a single season in school history. Luis Zendejas holds the school record with 28, going 28-37 in the 1983 season. Weber needs four more to tie Mike Barth, who made 23 in 2002, for third on the list. Weber is first in the Pac-10 in scoring, averaging 9.4 points per game.

Robert James continues to be a leader on the Sun Devil defense. James has led Arizona State in tackles six times this year, and is leading the team with 83 total tackles. He's also made eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks this season. He recorded five tackles against the Bruins.

Sophomore defensive end Dexter Davis enjoyed one of the most sensational freshman seasons by a Sun Devil defender in school history last season, earning Pac-10 All-Freshman honors and honorable mention freshman All-America recognition by The Sporting News. The Phoenix, Ariz., native recorded a team-best and Pac-10 freshman season-high 6.0 quarterback sacks, the third-most by a Sun Devil rookie in school history. Davis' total trails only those by Terrell Suggs (2000) and Shante Carver (1990), who each posted 10.0 sacks as a freshman and in total, Suggs (44 career sacks) and Carver (41) rank first and second on ASU's all-time career sacks list. Also, Davis totaled 40 tackles on the season, the most by an ASU freshman since TSN freshman All-America safety Jason Shivers' team-high 89 total stops in 2001. Davis has picked up right where he left off, as he has racked up a team leading 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. He twice sacked UCLA's Osaar Rasshan in the win over the Bruins.

Arizona State is ranked nationally in many major categories on both offense and defense. The Sun Devils are ranked 9th nationally in pass efficiency defense (101.7). The defense is also ranked 16th in the nation in rushing defense (103.4 ypg). The Sun Devils lead the country in Time of Possession at 34:21 and are 9th in the country in Pass Efficiency (152.1). Troy Nolan is tied for 14th in the nation with five interceptions. Rudy Carpenter is 11th nationally in pass efficiency (152.32), while Thomas Weber is tied for 10th nationally with 19 field goals.

No team in the Pac-10 showcased as many talented defensive freshmen as ASU did in 2006, headlined by defensive end Dexter Davis and linebacker Travis Goethel, both of whom earned Pac-10 All-Freshman and honorable mention Freshman All-America honors by The Sporting News. Both Davis and Goethel anchor the Sun Devil defense in 2007.

The Sun Devils showcase one of the most experienced and honored offensive lines in the Pac-10, as ASU boasts the only unit of linemen in the conference which returns all five starters from the conclusion of the 2006 season. Also, ASU returns three offensive linemen that received All-Pac-10 honors in 2006, trailing only Oregon State for most in the conference and five Sun Devil linemen, including four starters, have already earned their undergraduate degree. The Sun Devil front five is led by second-team All-Pac-10 center, graduate Mike Pollak and honorable mention All-Pac-10 recipients junior guard Paul Fanaika and graduate tackle Brandon Rodd. Graduate guard Robert Gustavis and graduate tackle Julius Orieuwku also provide starting experience for 2007. In 2006, the Sun Devil blockers helped enable ASU to gain its greatest rushing total since 1999 and showcase the team's first 1,000-yard runner since 2001. So far this season, the line has done their job again. ASU is averaging 164.6 yards per game on the ground and Ryan Torain reached the 100 yard mark on the ground three times. Keegan Herring also has three 100-yard games under his belt. Also, ASU has rushed for 16 touchdowns so far this year.

After establishing itself in recent years as a national offensive powerhouse predominately predicated on its passing attack, ASU proved it could attack opposing defenses with a punishing ground game last season. The Sun Devils boast one of the best backfields in the Pac-10, featuring junior Keegan Herring and sophomore Dimitri Nance. ASU rushed for 2,206 yards in 2006 and so far in 2007 it has gained 1,494 yards on the ground. In total, ASU has three of eight active Pac-10 ballcarriers to have surpassed 1,000 career rushing yards, including Herring and Ryan Torain as well as senior wide receiver Rudy Burgess, who is a dangerous all-purpose threat and was ASU's starting tailback during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

After breaking ASU's freshman rushing record by totaling 870 yards in 2005, junior Keegan Herring rushed for 549 yards on 94 carries in 2006 as part of the most dynamic rushing combination in the Pac-10 Conference. One of the quickest athletes in the Pac-10, Herring led all Sun Devil runners last season averaging 5.8 yards-per-carry and is one of only four active ballcarriers in the conference to have rushed for over 500 yards in each of the past two seasons. He has hit the 500 yard mark again, the third straight year he has surpassed it. Herring has 775 yards on 132 carries so far in 2007. In 35 career games, the Peoria (Ariz.) High School product has totaled 384 carries for 2,194 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Against the Bruins, he snapped off a highlight-reel 71-yarder for a touchdown.

With 2,194 career rushing yards, Keegan Herring has become the 16th Sun Devil to rush for over 2,000 yards in his career. Herring is one of only six active Pac-10 running backs to achieve the 2,000 yard mark. He is the first Sun Devil to get to 2,000 yards since J.R. Redmond, who did it from 1996 to 1999. Herring is now 10th all-time in ASU history with his 2,194 yards, 280 yards shy of Ben Malone for 9th place.

Rudy Carpenter is now 20-8 as Arizona State's starting quarterback. That's the fifth most victories by a starting ASU QB all-time. Danny White holds the all-time record for wins by a starting QB, going 30-3 in from 1971 to 1973. Dennis Sproul is second with a 26-11 record from 1974-77. Carpenter is one win shy of Jeff Van Raaphorst for fourth-place.

Dennis Erickson is no stranger to facing ranked opponents. In his career, Coach Erickson is 27-16 against Top 25 teams, including an 8-5 record against teams in the Top 5. USC enters this contest ranked #11 in the AP Poll.

Dennis Erickson is 49-15-1 (.762) as a head coach in the month of November, his highest winning percentage in any month. He has 51 wins in October and 50 in September.

The 8-0 start at ASU for Dennis Erickson was not only the best start by a coach in school history, it was one of the best starts in the history of the Pac-10 Conference. The 8-0 mark was the second-best start by a Pac-10 coach in the Post-War Era, and the best start in the past 56 years. In 1951, Stanford's Charles Taylor started 9-0. Coach Erickson is also the first ASU coach to ever win his first five Pac-10 games at ASU.

For just the second time in ASU history, the Sun Devils are bowl eligible for a bowl game for the fourth straight season. The last time ASU went to four straight bowl games was from 1970 to 1973, when it appeared in the Peach Bowl and the first three Fiesta Bowls.

Sun Devil fans will be treated to musical legend Little Richard at halftime of the USC game. Little Richard is an inaugural member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and will perform with the Sun Devil Marching Band. It will mark Little Richard's final public appearance ever.

The Arizona State football team has several two-sport athletes on the roster. WR Mike Jones has spent the past two seasons as a centerfielder for the baseball team, including last year's Pac-10 Championship team that advanced to the College World Series. Jones was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 42nd round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft, but has opted not to sign a contract and will return to the baseball team in 2008. WR Kyle Williams will also play baseball for ASU in 2008. He took the 2007 baseball season off to concentrate on football, but hopes to compete for an infield spot in 2008. In addition to the baseball players, ASU football also has three student-athletes who participated in the Pac-10 Track & Field Championships last season. WR Rodney Glass, CB Justin Tryon and WR Brandon Smith all ran for the Devils in Palo Alto, Calif.

Eight members of the Arizona State football team have already earned their undergraduate degrees, tied for the fifth most players in the country. Five of the ASU grads are offensive linemen.

The meeting with USC at Sun Devil Stadium sold out weeks ago, giving Arizona State back-to-back sell outs. The previous home game against California on Oct. 27 was also sold out.

ASU was picked to finish fourth in the Pacific-10 Conference by West Coast media members who regularly cover the league.

Arizona State will close out the regular season when they host in-state rival Arizona in the battle for college football's oldest rivalry trophy, the Territorial Cup. The game will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2 beginning at 6 p.m. from Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.