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Field Doesn’t Figure to Slow Them Down

Times Staff Writer

Top-ranked USC will try to stay on track for an Orange Bowl berth tonight when it plays Oregon State on a fast track at Reser Stadium.

The Trojans have played on newer artificial surfaces that are closer to the appearance and feel of grass, but Oregon State’s playing surface is more like a hard carpet.

“I think it’s probably the same turf my dad played on,” said junior linebacker Dallas Sartz, whose father, Jeff, played safety at Oregon State.

According to Oregon State’s media guide, AstroTurf12/2000 was installed in the stadium in July 1999.

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Trojan Coach Pete Carroll said his team’s speed could be amplified by the hard surface.

Running back Reggie Bush will be “a rocket out there,” Carroll said.

Speedy cornerbacks Justin Wyatt and Eric Wright also could benefit.

“They call it a fast track, so hopefully it works out to our advantage,” Wyatt said.

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Offensive tackle Kyle Williams has not started a game, but he could play a significant number of snaps again at both tackle positions.

Williams usually rotates extensively with right tackle Taitusi Lutui. Last week against Washington State, Williams also played left tackle when Sam Baker suffered a knee sprain.

“I’m usually averaging 35 to 40 plays a game, and against Washington State I think it was about 65,” Williams said. “That was the most I’ve played here, so it was great.”

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Baker will start tonight, but Williams will be ready.

“I’m just glad I can play both and that they’re letting me have a chance to get on the field,” he said.

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Tom Malone was chosen as one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, presented annually to the nation’s top punter. The winner will be announced Dec. 9.... No. 1-ranked USC teams are 4-1 against Oregon State. The Trojans lost, 3-0, in 1967, but won in 1968, 1972, 1979 and 1981.... USC is off to its best start since 1988, when the Trojans started 10-0.

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Oregon State has 48 players from California. USC has no players from Oregon.... USC has not allowed a fourth-quarter touchdown.... Tonight’s game is a sellout, the 27th in succession for Oregon State at Reser Stadium, which has a capacity of 35,362.


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