Oct. 29, 2005
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Southern California's offense was at its spectacular best. For once, the Trojans' defense kept up, too.
Poor Washington State never had a chance.
Matt Leinart passed for 364 yards and three touchdowns before coming out late in the third quarter, LenDale White rushed for 155 yards and two scores, and top-ranked USC took command early in beating the Cougars 55-13 Saturday for its 30th straight victory.
"It was a proud day for us," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "We did it all today. Our offense was ridiculously effective."
And so was the defense against the usually high-scoring Cougars.
USC essentially put the game away by taking a 28-6 lead in the first quarter as Leinart passed for 232 yards and three scores.
The Trojans, who entered as the country's leader in scoring (49 points per game) and total offense (581 yards), gained 269 yards in the opening quarter and had 459 by halftime along with 25 first downs.
USC finished with 745 total yards - most ever allowed by a Washington State team - and 40 first downs.
The Cougars came in averaging 518.6 yards and 39.1 points previously, but were held to 284 total yards and 13 first downs. Quite a performance for a defense that's been labeled the Trojans' soft spot - one that had been allowing 347 yards per game.
"You can't compare defense and offense, but they've got a powerhouse defense," WSU's Jason Hill said. "They've got powerhouses on both sides of the ball."
Hill averaged 166.1 receiving yards in his team's first seven games - second-best in the country. He was held to six catches for 49 yards by the Trojans.
"We worked hard this week on our schemes," said USC's Josh Pinkard, moved recently from safety to cornerback because of several injuries. "We made a big statement today. We held their big receiver to a minimum."
Perhaps fueled by the latest Bowl Championship Series standings, which had them second behind Texas, the Trojans played their best all-around game of the season by far.
"We're back-to-back national champions. You can't spell BCS without USC," White said.
"It is in the back of our minds, and it is extra motivation," said Steve Smith, who caught two TD passes. "We're used to that because we were stripped two years of a national championship."
USC is shooting for an unprecedented third straight national title. As Smith pointed out, the Trojans were bypassed for the BCS title game in the 2003 season, but finished No. 1 in The Associated Press poll.
The Trojans are ranked No. 1 in the AP, coaches' and Harris polls, but fell .0007 behind Texas in the BCS standings this week because the computers favored the Longhorns. It will probably be a different story when the next set of standings are released.
Playing before a homecoming crowd of 92,021 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Trojans (8-0, 5-0 Pac-10) tied Texas for the 11th longest winning streak in major college football history. Only three teams have won as many as 30 in a row in the past 35 years.
USC also has a 24-game winning streak at home and a 20-game streak against Pac-10 opponents. Both are school records.
The loss was the fifth straight for the Cougars (3-5, 0-5), but was far more decisive than the other four, which came by a total of 21 points.
"We got our butt kicked, period. They got my vote," WSU coach Bill Doba said. "In the first quarter, their speed was something we had never seen.
"I've only been in college football 30 years, but they're as good as I've seen."
Leinart completed 24 of 34 passes with one interception and moved to second on USC's career completions list with 693. Carson Palmer, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2002, had 927 completions in his four-year career. Leinart also tied Palmer's Pac-10 record by reaching 200 passing yards for the 32nd time.
Last year's Heisman winner threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Jarrett to open the scoring, and hit Smith on scoring plays of 15 and 24 yards later in the first. Jarrett had 11 receptions for 200 yards - both career bests. He has caught 26 TD passes in 21 career games.
White, who carried 20 times, scored on a 2-yard run late in the second quarter and a 21-yarder early in the final period.
Reggie Bush gained 97 yards on 17 carries, but didn't have a touchdown, missing out in the first quarter when he fumbled near the goal line. Tackle Winston Justice recovered in the end zone for the TD.
WSU's Jerome Harrison, the second-leading rusher in the country, became just the third player in the past 42 games to gain 100 or more yards against USC, picking up 147 yards on 21 carries. He has surpassed the 100-yard mark in a school-record 11 straight games.
Harrison capped an 81-yard drive on WSU's second possession by scoring from 13 yards out. Lawrence Jackson blocked Loren Langley's conversion attempt, leaving USC with a 7-6 lead at that stage.
Then the rout was on for USC.
USC plays Stanford next week at home, the last team to beat the Trojans in the Coliseum. The Cardinal won 21-16 on Sept. 29, 2001.