Trojans Use Stout Defense To Shutout Oregon State, 22-0
Sept. 28, 2002
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Nothing like a rugged 'preseason' to get a football team ready for conference games.
No. 18 Southern California opened Pac-10 play Saturday with a 22-0 victory over No. 23 and previously unbeaten Oregon State.
The Trojans (3-1, 1-0) were coming off wins against Auburn and Colorado and a loss to Kansas State. The Beavers (4-1, 0-1) had a much softer early schedule with games against Eastern Kentucky, Temple, UNLV and Fresno State.
'It has been a march to get to the conference,' USC coach Pete Carroll said. 'Not to take anything away from our first three games, but those were preseason. This is what counts.'
It was only the second time a Dennis Erickson-coached team was shut out, with the other a 29-0 Fiesta Bowl loss to Arizona in 1994 when Erickson was at Miami. The NFL's Seattle Seahawks were never held scoreless during his four seasons as their coach.
'I've never had an offense that was so inefficient as we were today,' Erickson said. 'Give their defense credit. It was ugly.
'Offensively, I'm puzzled on how we went from where we were (in the first four games) to what happened today. We were in second-and-long all game.'
The Beavers came into the game averaging 499.8 yards, and Derek Anderson was No. 2 in passing efficiency. Pressured constantly by the Trojans, the sophomore quarterback went 8-of-30 for 80 yards and lost two fumbles.
'We didn't play to have a shootout,' Carroll said. 'We played to have a big defensive day. It's so much fun when you can fool their quarterback. We made it hard on them by making them guess all day.'
USC defensive end Omar Nazel said the Trojans were determined not to let Oregon State get into a groove.
'You can't give them an inch; they'll take a mile,' said Nazel, whose six tackles included three for losses. 'When you shut the door, you have to close it, lock it and double-bolt it.'
The defeat was Oregon State's 28th in the last 29 games against the Trojans - the Beavers beat them at Corvallis in 2000 - and the 19th straight loss at the Coliseum dating back to 1960. USC holds an all-time 55-8-4 edge, including 37-4-3 in Los Angeles.
Palmer went 23-of-41 for 231 yards and threw one interception. He connected with Williams on a scoring throw of 11 yards just before halftime and added a 16-yard TD pass in the third quarter.
'Offensively, we didn't play very well, I didn't play very well,' Palmer said. 'The defense won the game.'
The fifth-year senior still became the school's career leader in total offense with 8,725 yards, topping Rodney Peete's 8,640.
Ryan Killeen added three field goals for the Trojans, who had 330 yards of offense.
Both USC touchdowns and one of Killeen's field goals followed Oregon State turnovers.
Patterson recovered an Anderson fumble at the OSU 20 to set up Killeen's 42-yarder that made it 6-0, and Shaun Cody recovered another Anderson fumble at the USC 39 before the Trojans drove to their first touchdown.
A fumbled snap by Oregon State punter Carl Tobey gave USC the ball at the Beavers' 12 to set up Palmer's second scoring throw.
The Beavers' Ryan Cesca, who missed two field goals in the fourth quarter of a 16-13 overtime loss to USC last season, was wide right on a 42-yarder in the first quarter for Oregon State's only real scoring threat of the game.
On Palmer's first touchdown pass, he pump-faked, pulled out of the grasp of one defender, then threw to Williams. A week earlier, Williams had four drops in the Trojans' 27-20 loss to Kansas State.
By KEN PETERS
AP Sports Writer