USC was the better team, and Huskies knew it

Updated: October 26, 2003, 12:10 PM ET

SEATTLE -- For a team that lost by 20 points, the Washington Huskies didn't seem too upset. In fact, they freely admitted they were outplayed by Southern California.

"They have guys with great speed," linebacker Tim Galloway said. "They can get outside. They do great things."

It wasn't long in the interview room Saturday before the Huskies (4-4, 2-2 Pac-10) were asked about next week's visit by Northwest rival Oregon (5-3, 2-2). And they sure seemed more inclined to talk about the Ducks.

"You know Oregon and Washington love each other so much," tackle Khalif Barnes said. "Our games are always tough, as far as the hitting and having a hatred for each other."

Before they can start pumping themselves up for the Ducks, the Huskies will need to figure out how to improve the woeful tackling that allowed too many big plays by USC (7-1, 3-1).

Matt Leinart, the successor to 2002 Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer, threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns as the Trojans beat Washington 43-23, the first USC victory at Husky Stadium in 10 years.

It's hard to pick the best highlight by the visitors.

Leinart threw a 20-yard TD pass to Keary Colbert, Ronald Nunn returned an interception 57 yards and LenDale White broke a 21-yard scoring run as USC built an early 20-7 lead.

The Huskies pulled to 20-14 just before halftime on Cody Pickett's 10-yard TD pass to Reggie Williams, capping an 80-yard drive. But the Trojans swept away in the second half, leaving Washington defenders grasping the air.

Reggie Bush had a 60-yard TD pass from Leinart, catching the ball at midfield and going untouched into the end zone as three Huskies chased him. Leinart added a 52-yard TD pass to fullback Brandon Hancock and a 37-yarder to Bush.

"They made good plays because we missed tackles," Galloway said. "When we have guys there, we have to make the tackle. There's no excuse for that. Some of those big plays should have been maybe for a couple yards."

Galloway and others said they had a good week of practice leading up to the USC contest. Take away the missed tackles, and perhaps they could have played the talented Trojans closer.

"USC is a good football team," Pickett said. "They played well. We had some opportunities that we didn't convert. We definitely could play better, but they're a good team."

On the other hand, this team doesn't need moral victories.

"Losing is losing," Pickett said. "It doesn't feel good."

So where do the Huskies go from here? After facing Oregon, they visit Arizona and California before closing the regular season at home in the Apple Cup grudge match against Washington State.

Washington hasn't had a losing season since 1976, and the Huskies want to finish strong. A major bowl is out of the picture, but a trip to some postseason destination is possible if they can win more than they lose from here.

Still, nobody's looking beyond Oregon next weekend.

"We've got to get ready for that one," free safety Owen Biddle said. "That'll be a fun one. We love to play Oregon. They're a rival, and we've got to get a win to get back on track."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index