TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- After another shaky start, No. 1 USC turned
loose those Trojan horses in the backfield.
The strength and speed of LenDale White and Reggie Bush lifted
the two-time defending national champions out of trouble on a
sweltering Saturday in the desert.
White rushed for 197 yards in 19 attempts, Bush gained 158 on 17
carries, and the Trojans rallied from 18 points down at the half to
beat No. 14 Arizona State 38-28, breaking a Pac-10 and school
record with their 26th victory in a row.
Southern California (4-0, 2-0 Pac-10) abandoned Matt Leinart's
big-play passing game in favor of the run, and the Sun Devils (3-2,
1-1) were helpless to stop it.
"They didn't try anything fancy in the second half," Sun
Devils coach Dirk Koetter said. "They just ran the two tailbacks
The Trojans outrushed the Sun Devils 373-68 in a matchup of two
of the nation's most prolific offenses.
"We just pounded the football in the second half," USC coach
Pete Carroll said. "It was a beautiful job by the offensive
linemen, a beautiful job by Reggie and LenDale."
Bush had touchdown runs of 24 and 34 yards, the second one
giving the Trojans the lead for good 31-28 with 3:44 to go. White
scored on romps of 32 and 46 yard, the latter putting USC up 38-28
with 2:22 left after Arizona State's Sam Keller was intercepted for
the fourth time.
"They came out and fought real hard for a couple of quarters,"
White said. "Here at 'SC, we teach 'finish.' It's not about how
the first and second quarter ends or the third, it's about how you
finish in the fourth quarter."
Keller completed 26 of 45 for 347 yards and two touchdowns but
was intercepted five times, four in the second half. Keller had
been intercepted only twice going into the game, both in the season
He had thrown 131 passes without a pick before Oscar Lua's
interception in the second quarter.
"We very well could have won that game, and I think they were
scared, too, at a lot of points in that game," Keller said. "A
few bad plays by me, if they don't happen, then we win."
Terry Richardson's 84-yard punt return gave Arizona State an
early 7-0 lead and the Sun Devils led 21-3 at the half, letting
their fans revel in the 97-degree heat.
It was the second week in a row that USC fell behind on the road
and rallied. Last week at Oregon, the Trojans trailed 13-0 but
scored the next 45 points.
"We have our way at halftime," Carroll said. "Our guys know
that situation well enough now that they know what's going to come
from me, I know how they're going to respond, and we're going to go
about our business in a particular manner that gives us a chance to
win -- because basically they believe they can't be beat."
USC has outscored opponents in the second half 140-28 this
season, including 35-7 in front of a capacity Sun Devil Stadium
crowd of 71,706.
Still, after Leinart's 1-yard sneak had put USC ahead for the
first time, 24-21, with 8:46 to play, the Sun Devils overcame a
personal foul penalty that made it 1st-and-25 at their 15 to go the
length of the field.
Keller's 24-yard pass down the sidelines to Rudy Burgess and
Burgess' 6-yard run to the 1 set up a scoring toss to Lee
Burghgraef that put Arizona State up 28-24 with 5:57 to play.
The Trojans needed only five plays, three of them on the ground,
to retake the lead. Bush's 34-yard ramble capped the drive.
On the next possession, Derek Hagan went high to catch Keller's
pass over the middle. The ball slipped out of his hands and into
the arms of USC freshman Kevin Ellison. White's 46-yard TD run gave
USC a comfortable lead for the first time.
Hagan had 10 catches for 162 yards.
USC punted four times in the first quarter, equaling its total
for the entire season coming in to the game. The usually poised
Trojans were penalized eight times in the first quarter, four for
"For the second week in a row we just were on a torrid pace to
self-destruct in the first quarter," Carroll said.
On one series, the Trojans were at the Arizona State 35 after a
roughing-the-passer penalty, but a false start, personal foul and
false start on consecutive plays pushed the ball back to the USC
The first penalty occurred after Leinart left the game for a
play. He was shaken up when roughing was called on ASU.
"I got my head hit pretty good," said Leinart, who completed
23-of-39 for 258 yards and was not intercepted. "I don't know if I
was all there the whole game, but I just battled."
On the subsequent punt, Richardson burst through an opening on
the left side and raced down the sidelines to the end zone. It was
Arizona State's first punt return for a touchdown since Shaun
McDonald returned one 78 yards against USC on Nov. 4, 2000 and the
Sun Devils' longest since Eric Guliford went 89 yards against
California on No. 14, 1992.
The Trojans, averaging 59 points and 615 yards per game, managed
only a 36-yard field goal by Mario Danelo in the first half, and
that came after Lua's interception.
Keller, a junior in the fifth start of his career, was 6-for-6
for 100 yards on consecutive touchdown drives of 63 and 55 yards in
the second quarter.
He threw seven yards to Jamaal Lewis for a score, then freshman
Keegan Herring ran five yards for a touchdown and Arizona State was
up 18 with 4:34 left in the half.