8:45 PM ET, September 2, 2006
Razorback Stadium, FAYETTEVILLE, AR
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- If this is what a rebuilding year looks like at Southern California, the rest of the country could be in big trouble.
John David Booty threw three touchdown passes in the second half, and the sixth-ranked Trojans rolled to a 50-14 win over Arkansas on Saturday night in their first game since Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart moved on to the NFL.
USC offense vs. Arkansas defense
USC beat Arkansas 70-17 last year, but was expected to slip a bit without Leinart and Bush, the 2004 and 2005 Heisman Trophy winners. Instead, the Trojans exceeded the 49 points per game they averaged last season.
USC needed a little help getting started, and the Razorbacks provided it with five turnovers -- three while the game was still in doubt.
scoring 20+ points
Arkansas running back Felix Jones fumbled three times in the first half, and USC recovered two of them. Kevin Thomas returned Jones' last fumble 12 yards to the Arkansas 3. After an incompletion, freshman C.J. Gable ran for a touchdown to give USC a 10-0 lead.
The Trojans led 16-7 at halftime, and Terrell Thomas' interception early in the third quarter gave USC the ball at the Arkansas 28. Booty's 14-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Turner made it 23-7.
USC has won 46 of its last 48 games. The Trojans went 12-1 last year, just missing an unprecedented third straight national title when they lost to Texas 41-38.
Last year, the Trojans scored four touchdowns in their first eight plays against Arkansas. USC didn't strike as quickly this time, but had no trouble controlling the ball against the Razorbacks, keeping it for 35:19.
Booty went 24-of-35 for 261 yards and made few mistakes as he began the difficult challenge of replacing Leinart at quarterback.
"I thought he handled himself beautifully," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "Got us off to a terrific start."
USC finally went on an extended touchdown drive toward the end of the third quarter. The Trojans moved 80 yards in 11 plays, and Booty found Fred Davis in the back corner of the end zone for a 9-yard score.
Darren McFadden had nine carries for 42 yards for Arkansas. McFadden, last year's Southeastern Conference freshman of the year, dislocated his toe in late July in a fight outside a Little Rock club. His status had been uncertain, but he was on the field for the Razorbacks' first play from scrimmage.
"It's a little sore, but it's all right," said McFadden, who said he felt about 80 to 85 percent.
Johnson went 12-of-25 for 110 yards with two interceptions. He completed seven consecutive passes on a second-quarter drive -- one he finished with a 1-yard touchdown run.
But aside from that, the Razorbacks struggled to move the ball against a USC defense looking to improve on an inconsistent year, capped by a poor showing against Texas in the Rose Bowl.
Prized freshman Mitch Mustain entered at quarterback for Arkansas in the fourth quarter to a warm ovation from the crowd. He immediately drove the Razorbacks downfield and scored on a 4-yard run to make it 44-14, but he threw an interception on Arkansas' next possession.
"It was a lot of fun," Mustain said. "The stuff that I ran was stuff I was pretty familiar with."
Mustain was one of the most touted recruits ever to come out of Arkansas. He played in high school at Springdale, which is about 20 minutes from Fayetteville. The Razorbacks hired Gus Malzahn, Mustain's coach at Springdale, as offensive coordinator in December.
USC also showcased some of its younger players. For the first time, Tailback U started a true freshman at that position in a season opener. Gable began the game in the backfield and ran for 51 yards.
Freshman Emmanuel Moody scored on a 9-yard run to make it 44-7, and freshman Allen Bradford added a 1-yard run for the Trojans' final touchdown. Moody finished with 58 yards on seven carries.
"With the three young tailbacks all getting touchdowns, that's pretty cool," Carroll said.
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt lost for the first time in nine season openers with the Razorbacks.
The crowd of 76,564 set a record for Arkansas' Fayetteville stadium.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... USC marched down the field after Arkansas scored in the second quarter and answered with a field goal that sparked a 31-point run.
Gameball goes to... John David Booty. It's not easy to follow Matt Hollywood, but Booty did his best Leinart impression -- 260 yards on 24-for-36 passing with 3 TDs.
Stat of the game... 120-31: In the last two games, USC has outscored Arkansas by 89 points. Imagine if the Trojans opened with a I-AA opponent...
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-14||2-10|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||0-0|
|FG||10:24||MARIO DANELO 35 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 28 yards.
|TD||13:12||C.J. GABLE 3 YD RUN (MARIO DANELO KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 3 yards.
|FG||7:41||MARIO DANELO 38 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 29 yards.
|TD||2:23||ROBERT JOHNSON 1 YD RUN (STEPHEN ARNOLD KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||0:00||MARIO DANELO 44 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 44 yards.
|TD||9:24||PATRICK TURNER 14 YD PASS FROM JOHN DAVID BOOTY (MARIO DANELO KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 28 yards.
|TD||2:55||FRED DAVIS 9 YD PASS FROM JOHN DAVID BOOTY (MARIO DANELO KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||12:29||RYAN POWDRELL 1 YD PASS FROM JOHN DAVID BOOTY (MARIO DANELO KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 73 yards.
|TD||10:00||EMMANUEL MOODY 9 YD RUN (MARIO DANELO KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 31 yards.
|TD||8:21||MITCH MUSTAIN 4 YD RUN (STEPHEN ARNOLD KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||1:42||ALLEN BRADFORD 1 YD RUN (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 26 yards.