No. 1 USC Runs Past No. 14 Nebraska
Sept. 15, 2007
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Top-ranked Southern California ran through, around and all over Nebraska.
Stafon Johnson ran for 144 yards and one of USC's five rushing touchdowns and John David Booty threw two short TD passes in a 49-31 victory Saturday night.
The Trojans (2-0) piled up 313 yards rushing and won for the 61st time in 67 games. It was a thoroughly impressive performance and more one-sided than the final score showed.
'Once we got going, geez, we just took control,' USC coach Pete Carroll said. 'Everything we wanted to get done we were able to get done.'
USC lost some support to LSU on the polls last week, but it wouldn't be surprising if the Trojans recoup some of those first-place votes when the new Top 25 comes out Sunday.
The 14th-ranked Huskers (2-1), playing host to a No. 1-ranked team for the first time since 1978, came into the game in search of a breakthrough victory for fourth-year coach Bill Callahan. They're still looking after dropping to 1-10 all-time against No. 1s and 0-6 under Callahan against teams ranked in the Top 10.
USC's 49 points were the third-most scored by an opponent in Lincoln.
'We've got to get better. We've got to get better,' Callahan said.
The Trojans broke open the game by scoring three straight touchdowns in the second half, the first two set up by interceptions.
USC led 49-17 in the fourth quarter, but Sam Keller led two touchdown drives against the Trojans' prevent defense to close the gap.
USC running backs broke off 12 runs of 10 yards or more, including six of 20 or longer.
The Trojans' rushing total was their most since getting 403 against UCLA in 2005 and the most allowed by Nebraska since Texas had 353 in 2003.
'They just whipped us up front,' Nebraska defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt said. 'They outphysicaled us and we didn't play very good fundamentally. We missed a lot of tackles. It was ugly.'
Nebraska, which ran for 68 yards in a 28-10 loss at USC last year, netted just 31 yards on the ground.
The Trojans scored on back-to-back series in the second quarter to erase a 10-7 deficit.
C.J. Gable, who had 69 yards on four carries, had runs of 14 and 11 yards and Johnson a 16-yarder before Stanley Havili ran in from the 2.
Nebraska went three-and-out, and then Booty sprinkled in three short passes with five handoffs as the Trojans drove 73 yards in nine plays for a 21-10 halftime lead. Johnson broke off a 32-yard run to the Nebraska 25, and three plays later he scored from the 7 after his offensive line created a massive opening on a trap play.
Sam Keller was intercepted on Nebraska's first two series of the second half, and the Trojans capitalized both times during the middle of a 35-point run that put the Trojans up 42-10.
Booty found tight end Anthony McCoy alone in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard TD, and Chauncey Washington scored to make it 35-10 after Kyle Moore ran back an interception 24 yards to the Nebraska 1.
USC established the run immediately, with Havili going for 50 yards and Gable for 40 on the Trojans' first two plays. Booty finished the drive with a 5-yard pass to Havili.
Nebraska tied it after a rarely called penalty on USC - 'disconcerting offensive signals' - made the difference between a field goal and touchdown.
The Huskers stalled at the USC 4, and Alex Henery came on to try a 21-yarder. But Rey Maualuga was caught mimicking the offensive snap count, violating NCAA Rule 7, Article 5, which says 'no player may call defensive signals that simulates the sounds or cadence of (or otherwise interfere with) offensive starting signals.'
The penalty set up Nebraska with first-and-goal at the 2, and Cody Glenn scored two plays later from a yard out to tie it 7-all.
After Henery's 37-yard field goal put Nebraska up 10-7, the Trojans started their next possession at the Huskers' 45 after Malcolm Smith picked up kick returner Vincent Joseph's fumble and returned it 31 yards.
Joseph, who lost the ball when hit by Ricky Thenarse, was taken off the field on a stretcher after being tended to for more than 10 minutes. He was hospitalized with a bruised larynx.
Booty was 19 of 30 for 144 yards. Keller was 36 of 54 for 389 yards, including 14 of 19 for 169 yards and two TDs in the fourth quarter. Maurice Purify caught seven passes for 80 yards for the Huskers.