Tape It Up: USC vs. Arizona State: Banged-Up QBs Back In Action

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USC vs. Arizona State: Banged-Up QBs Back In Action

After Oregon fell to Arizona a week ago, USC's stock rocketed upwards in the suddenly close Pac-10 conference race. If the Trojans can pull out a win over Arizona State on Thanksgiving night, at Arizona State, they put themselves in perfect position to finish in a tie for the top spot in the Pac-10. Both teams are coming off a bye with two formerly banged-up quarterbacks ready to prove that their injuries have healed. USC's John David Booty should start his second straight game after missing three weeks with a broken finger, while Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter threw last weekend for the first time in nearly two weeks, having spent time allowing his injured thumb to heal.

Arizona State controls its own post-season destiny, and with a healthy Carpenter back under center, the Sun Devils are in good shape to win out and claim their third-ever conference title. Carpenter has been hampered for the past few weeks with a thumb injury originally sustained against Oregon, then re-injured against UCLA on Nov. 10. He is ranked third in the league in passing with 252 yards per game, and should be back to full strength in time for the Thanksgiving battle.

The Trojans' quarterback issues are a bit further removed. Booty was back in the lineup two weeks ago after missing time to heal his right middle ringer, and although he missed three days of practice earlier this week, the missed time was mostly precautionary. Plus, Booty has three of the best running backs in the conference to hand off to, and left tackle Sam Baker has a chance to start this week after sustaining a hamstring injury against Oregon. Linebacker Keith Rivers is still questionable.

Assuming both quarterbacks are fully healthy this week, the edge should still go to Carpenter. ASU and USC are Nos. 2 and 3 in scoring offense in the Pac-10, respectively, but Booty had some horrendous games before sitting out to heal his finger. Booty's TD:INT ratio is 14:8, while Carpenter's is 20:8. Both QBs are completing 63 percent of their passes, but Carpenter is far ahead of Booty in pass efficiency. Luckily, Booty does have that trio of talented running backs to compensate for any bad day he might be having, but the edge in this QB battle looks, from the outset, to belong to Carpenter.

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