LOS ANGELES (AP) - On the heels of a stunning loss at Oregon State last month, Southern California fell behind Oregon 10-3 the next week, making it seem that all the hype about USC might have been overdone.
Since falling behind the Ducks, however, the Trojans have been every bit as good as advertised.
USC enters Saturday night's crucial Pac-10 game at Arizona having outscored the opposition 138-0 since early in the second quarter of the Oregon game.
``We're aware of that,'' defensive end Kyle Moore said Tuesday. ``It's a big deal in some people's eyes. We're capable of doing that every week. We can keep doing it if we do everything right.''
The sixth-ranked Trojans came back from their early deficit to beat Oregon 44-10 before blanking Arizona State 28-0 and Washington State 69-0, giving them back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1971 and thrusting them back into the national championship picture.
en a good run for the defense now, and we've had some great challenges in there and really big-time field position challenges, which shows the mettle of the team and their attitude and progress.
``It's fun for the kids and fun for the coaches, and it's a source of pride when you can put a little string like that together.''
The Trojans (5-1, 3-1 Pac-10) lead the country in scoring defense, having allowed 7.8 points per game. Oregon State had three of the six touchdowns and 27 of the 47 points USC gave up in its first six games.
``They're big, fast and physical,'' Arizona coach Mike Stoops said of USC's defense. ``That's the first thing you realize. Everywhere you look, they have quality players. They make you earn it on the field. They're going to make you execute, we certainly understand that. We're going to have to be creative in trying to move the football.''
It would be pretty shocking if the Trojans pitch a third straight shutout, since the Wildcats (5-2, 3-1) are averaging 40.4 points per game this season to rank second in the Pac-10 behind USC, and 44.8 points in their last six home games - all victories.
``This is going to check us out and it's going to be very hard to hold them down at all,'' Carroll said. ``They have scored a ton of points already on most everybody they have played.
going to try to take the momentum that we're building here out of the first half of the season and take it to Tucson and see if we can get ourselves a win.''
A sellout crowd of 57,400 is expected at Arizona Stadium, where the Wildcats beat then-No. 25 California 42-27 last weekend.
``They were down 24-14 at halftime and came roaring back and commanded a great win, and the place went crazy,'' Carroll said. ``Really, they have got to be flying.''
The Trojans were certainly flying early in the season, earning a near-unanimous No. 1 ranking after routing Virginia 52-7 and No. 10 Ohio State 35-3. The talk at that point didn't revolve around whether they'd make it to the BCS title game in January, rather who they'd be playing.
Then came the 27-21 loss to 25-point underdog Oregon State on Sept. 25.
``The Oregon State game was a bad game we had as a team, both sides of the ball,'' Moore said. ``We've made sure that hasn't happened again.''
USC, listed Tuesday as a 15-point favorite, holds a 25-6 lead in the series and has won six straight over Arizona since a 31-15 loss in 2000 - the year before Carroll became the Trojans' coach.
am he's had.''
Stoops, in his fifth year at Arizona, said consistency has been the key this year.
``Any time you play USC, it's a big game,'' he said. ``This has a lot of significant meaning for us in the Pac-10. I'm happy for our players and coaches that we're able to play in a big game. I think our kids will handle it well. I don't think many people expect us to win. That takes a little pressure off.''

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