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Palmer accurate, Bruins mistake-prone in lopsided game

11/23/2002

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 Bruins (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 25 AP).

"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.

Now, USC will be pulling for UCLA. The Trojans will win the
Pac-10 championship and play in the Rose Bowl game on New Year's
Day if the Bruins beat Washington State on Dec. 7 at the Rose Bowl.
The third-ranked Cougars (9-2, 6-1) were upset 29-26 in triple
overtime by Washington later Saturday.

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.

UCLA's Drew Olson completed 8 of 17 passes for 121 yards with
one interception, and fellow freshman Matt Moore was 7-of-11 for 64
yards and one touchdown.

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.