Turnovers Costly In UCLA's Loss To USC
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - Whatever chance UCLA had of upsetting crosstown rival Southern California dissolved in the opening 10 minutes Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
Carson Palmer threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Kareem Kelly on the first play from scrimmage following one of UCLA's many devastating mistakes, and that got No. 7 USC off and running to a 52-21 victory over the 25th-ranked Bruins.
'The first play was huge. It gave us momentum for the whole game,' Palmer said after passing for 254 yards and four touchdowns. 'Before the game, we were talking about putting up 50.
'It's an awesome feeling to beat these guys the way we did.'
Palmer and Kelly hooked up after Tab Perry fumbled the opening kickoff and Grant Mattos recovered, putting USC on top after 16 seconds of play.
USC also scored touchdowns on its next two possessions for a quick 21-0 lead. UCLA scored early in the second quarter to draw within two touchdowns before the Trojans ran off 31 straight points.
The 52 points were the most scored by either team in the series since USC defeated UCLA 52-0 in 1930 - the second meeting between the teams. The year before that, the Trojans beat the Bruins 76-0.
USC got two touchdowns and a field goal following fumble recoveries. Another TD after a bad snap from center in a punting situation resulted in a 34-yard UCLA loss.
The Bruins committed five turnovers, and that doesn't include the errant center snap. UCLA had only 14 turnovers in its first 10 games.
'We knew going into this game we had to play error-free to hang in there,' UCLA coach Bob Toledo said. 'We couldn't stop them.'
The win was the sixth straight for the Trojans (9-2, 7-1 Pac-10) and their fourth in a row over the Bruins after UCLA had won a record eight straight in the rivalry.
The Bruins (7-4, 4-3) had their three-game winning streak snapped.
'Across the board, we did everything we wanted to do,' USC coach Pete Carroll said. 'We were in total command all day. We got so many opportunities right off the bat and capitalized on every one. They did not get a chance to get going.
'What more can you say about Palmer's great leadership ability? Carson is playing better than anyone in the country right now. He should win the Heisman if we win next week.'
The Trojans finish the regular season Saturday night against No. 8 Notre Dame at the Los Angeles Coliseum. They've lost three straight to the Fighting Irish and haven't beaten UCLA and Notre Dame in the same season since 1981.
'They'll beat Notre Dame,' Toledo predicted, calling USC the best team the Bruins have played this season.
Palmer, who completed his first seven passes for 128 yards including touchdown throws to Kelly and Keary Colbert, was 19-of-32 without being intercepted.
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound fifth-year senior from Laguna Niguel, Calif., has passed for 2,251 yards and 23 touchdowns with five interceptions in USC's last seven games and has thrown at least two TD passes in eight straight games.
Palmer, who came in needing 76 yards to become the leading passer in Pac-10 history, surpassed the record of 10,911 yards set by Stanford's Steve Stenstrom from 1991-94 less than five minutes into the game - on his TD pass to Colbert.
Palmer, who also holds the career Pac-10 records for attempts and completions, finished the day with 3,214 passing yards this year and 11,090 in his career.
Tyler Ebell, who gained more than 100 yards in each of the Bruins' previous six games, was held to 56 yards on 12 carries. USC hasn't allowed a player to rush for 100 yards this year.
Palmer threw a 51-yard scoring pass to Colbert to cap an 85-yard, five-play drive on USC's second possession.
UCLA moved to the Trojans 43-yard line before being forced to punt, but Rusty Williams' snap sailed over Nate Fikse's head. Fikse ran the ball down but couldn't get the punt away.
Palmer ran 22 yards before Justin Fargas scored on a 1-yard plunge to make it 21-0 after only 9:18 of play.
The Bruins moved 89 yards on 10 plays early in the second quarter, scoring on a 7-yard run by Manuel White.
But Palmer threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Malaefou MacKenzie six plays after Moore mishandled the snap from center, and Mike Patterson recovered at the UCLA 14, making it 28-7 at halftime.
The 72nd game between the teams was played before a crowd of 91,084 at the Rose Bowl. USC leads the series 38-27-7.
The Bruins complete their season Dec. 7 at the Rose Bowl against No. 3 Washington State.
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer