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The conference's best team did what it was supposed to against the Pac-10's worst. USC scored on its first two possessions and five times in the first half en route to a dominant 45-0 triumph in Tucson. Freshman running back Len Dale White set a new Trojan record with his 11th touchdown of the year, a two-yard plunge that capped Troy's first drive.
USC tied another individual record on its second drive. Sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart connected with Mike Williams for Williams' 25th touchdown reception in 23 games. He broke Kevin Williams record later in the evening.
Despite being overmatched, Arizona had occasional opportunities. The UA had 10 looks inside the USC 20 in the first half, but could not punch it in. Dropped passes and an ill-advised Kris Heavner heave into the back of the end zone, intercepted by USC's Kevin Poole, kept the goose egg in tact.
USC, which averaged 515 total yards, carved up the beleaguered UA defense to the tune of 587 yards. Most of the Trojan yardage came through the air, where Leinart was dominant. The seasoned sophomore tore up the UA secondary for 296 yards on 22 completions in 30 attempts. Conversely, Arizona managed just 195 total yards. Tailback Mike Bell had 14 yards on as many rushing attempts.
It was a night of records on both sides of the ball. Williams and White set individual USC marks, as did Leinart, who has 165 attempts without an interception. Ryan Killeen has converted 49 consecutive point-afters, which ties the mark with two others.
USC is 20-4 since a win at Arizona in 2001.
For the UA, it was a night of record-setting futility. It was the first time Arizona endured a shutout since losing 54-0 at Washington in 1991. This is the first time in school history the UA has lost nine games in a season. Arizona has failed to score in the first half in eight games this season. It has trailed by 35 or more points on three occasions this year, twice on TBS.
Arizona did a nice job of shutting down USC's rushing attack in the first half, but Leinart proved to be too good in the air. Leinart, who's numbers compare favorably to those of Carson Palmer's, did his best to make USC fans forget the Heisman Trophy winner. Leinart hit all the open receivers and even a number that were not so open.
Arizona passers struggled. Kris Heavner and Nic Costa were a combined 12-34 for just 145 yards. Heavner threw three interceptions, two inside the red zone, ending promising drives. Even when Heavner was on target the Cats struggled. Twice inside the 20, Heavner had perfect passes dropped, one by Sean Jones in the flat that would have earned a first down at least, and one in the end zone by Michael Jefferson that would have given the Cats a score before the half.
"It's frustrating," confessed Ricky Williams. "That can change the momentum of a game."
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