Burgess Looks For Elusive USC Win

There's one thing that senior Rudy Burgess, who hails from Southern California, would like to accomplish before the curtain closes on his Sun Devil career. That is to prevail over the only team he hasn't beaten since donning the maroon and gold – the USC Trojans.

With hoards of media descending on Sunday's night practice, Burgess admitted that this has only added to the excitement that he and his teammates feel just four days away from the Thanksgiving night home showdown against USC. After a bye week, the wide receiver and his teammates feel rejuvenated and certainly up to what could be their stiffest challenge of the 2007 season.

"We took a couple of days off, watched other teams play and we came out today in practice pretty strong," Burgess said Sunday evening. "The team has a lot of energy and we can't get any antsier than we are right now. This is my last try and I'm gonna try my hardest to get it done."

Speaking of watching other games, Burgess, like many of his teammates, followed the action in the Oregon-Arizona game. The senior may have had other plans that night, but with the events that unfolded in Tucson throughout Thursday his original plans had to take a back seat.

"I was at the Phoenix Suns game, and I wasn't even watching it because I was watching that Arizona game," Burgess remarked. "I'm sitting there saying ‘good job U of A' and then I say ‘wow' (making a facial expression that translates to ‘I can't believe I just said that'). It was unfortunate for Dennis Dixon. You win some, you lose some and that loss can help us in the long run."

The scoreboard watching obviously wasn't exclusive to last Thursday. ASU players realize that not only do they have a chance at a Rose Bowl, but there's still hope of appearing in a national championship game. "We just have to sit back, play our hand and let them (the other teams) play their hand and see if they fall," said Burgess. "We have to focus on Thanksgiving (and the game against USC) and have a good game."

The phrase ‘control your own destiny' is one that has been thrown around a lot ever since Oregon lost to Arizona last Thursday. After all, if the maroon and gold win their last two games, they're guaranteed to play in the Rose Bowl. Ironically, this phrase was mentioned by Head Coach Dennis Erickson to the team, before the season ever started. "He told us that if we want to get to a BCS game we have to win," Burgess recalled. "He said we can only win the games we play and we can't control other teams."

This year Burgess leads Arizona State in all-purpose yards with 917. In fact, the senior is the only active player in the Pac-10 Conference and one of three in the nation to have surpassed 1,000 yards rushing (1,082), receiving (1,438) and returning (1,279) during his career. He's fourth on the team in receiving with 369 yards and he has found the end zone three times. Overall, he admitted that he had a slow start to the season but has been performing well the last few weeks. "I'm playing how I expected to play and I'm staying healthy so that helps," he commented. "This far down the season I'm feeling pretty good."

Burgess stated that he liked the three-wide receiver set as the base scheme for the ASU offense, because all the various aerial targets do give him more chances to get open and make catches. According to the wide receiver, the much talked about thumb injury to quarterback Rudy Carpenter, hasn't adversely impact his play and his fellow ASU wideouts.

"He's a solider playing with a piece of a thumb barely hanging on," Burgess noted. "He's a competitor and that's what we need. All of us have to play through pain and that's what he does."

The struggles of ASU at kick return this year have been well documented. Burgess leads the team in this category with 22 yards per return, and does see a brighter future for this group. "We look at it as a big boulder we keep on chipping at it and one day it's gonna break," said Burgess. "We have different schemes for this week and hopefully we can take a return back (for a TD) this week."

With all the hype surrounding this sold out USC game, you can rest assured that players, much like some fans out there, are scrambling to get their hands on extra tickets. "I got family, friends, strangers, aliens…all coming down to watch this game," said Burgess with a laugh. "But if they can't watch this one in-person, it's not a bad one to watch on T.V."

Then again, possible history in the making is always better when you personally attend the event.

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