USC regains class of the Pac status
TEMPE, Ariz. - Visiting USC flew by the Sun Devils, 44-24, for the eighth straight meeting between the two teams to retake first place in the Pac-10. All USC needs to do now is beat UCLA on Dec. 1 and for Oregon to lose one of its final two games in order for the Trojans to clinch a trip to the Rose Bowl.
USC ROLLS IN VICTORY OVER ASU
TEMPE, Ariz. - Stars and speed.
There was plenty of both Thursday night at Sun Devil Stadium.
Former USC football players Matt Leinart, Duce Lutui and Marcus Allen looked on from the sideline alongside NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley. Rock 'n' roll great Little Richard performed at halftime.
All were here to see the nationally televised Thanksgiving showdown between No. 11 USC and No. 7 Arizona State for control of the Pac-10.
And that's where the speed of the Trojans proved its worth. Visiting USC flew by the Sun Devils, 44-24, for the eighth straight meeting between the two teams to retake first place in the Pac-10. All USC needs to do now is beat UCLA on Dec. 1 and for Oregon to lose one of its final two games in order for the Trojans to clinch a trip to the Rose Bowl.
"This was a really sweet win," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "We've been looking forward to the time where we really felt we were all together."
The Trojans were dominant, moving the ball at will on offense while defensively overwhelming the Sun Devils.
Trojan quarterback John David Booty look liked the Heisman candidate he was projected to be, completing 26-of-39 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns. He also snuck a 1-yard score up the middle seconds before the end of the first half.
"We used the run and (the passing game) opened up," Booty said. Though running back Chauncey Washington carried the ball 22 times for only 80 yards, USC repeatedly used play action to keep the ASU defense guessing.
Trojan tight end Fred Davis led all receivers, catching five passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. Davis' score put the game on ice for USC and epitomized ASU's defensive struggles. Davis caught the ball on 10-yard crossing route but rumbled the remainder of the way, breaking four tackles.
"That's the worse we've tackled all year," ASU coach Dennis Erickson said.
Things weren't much better for the Sun Devil offense. ASU's season-long offensive line troubles continued and prevented the Sun Devils from developing any offensive rhythm.
USC sacked ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter six times, four of which came courtesy defensive end Lawrence Jackson.
"We knew that they were going to throw the ball deep and we took advantage of the rush," Jackson said.
Jackson hit Carpenter so hard at one point during the third quarter, the quarterback's helmet came flying off and Carpenter missed the next play as he spit blood from his mouth because of a busted lip.
"They came to hit," Carpenter said. "We were overmatched and we got whooped."
When the Trojan defense wasn't chasing after Carpenter, it was clamping down on ASU's running game. The Sun Devils' two-headed attack of Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance produced just 24 yards on 20 carries.
All that remains for both teams are games against their rival schools. USC hosts UCLA on Dec. 1, while on the same day ASU welcomes Arizona to Tempe.
With USC emerging victorious in the unofficial Pac-10 championship game and positioning itself for a Rose Bowl berth, ASU might have to settle for a second place trip to the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27. The worse the Sun Devils can finish in the conference is third, which would give them an automatic bid to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on Dec. 31.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
USC quarterback John David Booty. The senior signal caller carved up the Sun Devils' secondary with ease for 375 yards and four touchdowns.
PLAY OF THE GAME:
Kickoff return for touchdown by ASU wide receiver Rudy Burgess. The 98-yard dash by Burgess early in the first quarter had little impact on the game in the end, but it sure made things interesting. Without it the Sun Devils might have been down 17-0 or worse. Plus, it's hard not to enjoy a player running up the sidelines for a score while his entire team runs alongside him on the bench in a show of support. It's reminiscent of Carlton Fisk waving the baseball fair during Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
Final regular season games for both teams.
USC hosts UCLA, Dec. 1
ASU hosts UA, Dec. 1