Top-ranked Southern California scored 35 unanswered points to send No. 5 Ohio State reeling home with another nationally televised defeat. This one, played under the lights at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum ended with the Buckeyes on the down side of a 35-3 shellacking.
Switching quarterbacks Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor nearly on a play-by-play basis, the Buckeyes put together a lengthy drive in the first quarter that ended with a 29-yard field goal by Ryan Pretorius to go ahead 3-0.
The Trojans wasted little time in striking back, however, as Mark Sanchez led a seven-play, 74-yard drive that ended with the USC quarterback finding fullback Stanley Havili streaking down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown connection. The drive took a tidy 2:34 off the clock and gave the home team a lead it would not relinquish.
Ohio State went three-and-out on its ensuing drive before punting the ball back to the Trojans, who again marched to the end zone for a drive that concluded with a Sanchez touchdown. This time, the sophomore used a play-action fake to draw in the Ohio State defense before dumping a pass into the hands of tight end Blake Ayles for a 1-yard touchdown that made it 14-3.
Momentarily, the Buckeyes appeared to have answered with a touchdown of their own on the next drive but Boeckman's long touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie was wiped out by a holding penalty and Pretorius later missed a 46-yard field goal attempt.
That was basically the last time the Buckeyes threatened to be within one score.
Later in the second quarter, the Trojan defense got in on the scoring act when USC linebacker Ray Maualuga intercepted a Boeckman pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown to set the halftime margin.
The home team tacked on two Sanchez-to-Damian-Williams touchdowns in the second half to complete the scoring.
With star tailback Chris Wells sidelined with a foot injury, Ohio State's offense never found much of a consistent rhythm after the opening quarter.
The Buckeyes finished with just 207 total yards, including 71 on the ground.
Starting in Wells' place, Daniel "Boom" Herron ran for 51 yards on 11 carries while Pryor added 40 yards on 11 totes.
Pryor, a highly touted freshman, also completed 7 of 9 passes for 52 yards.
Boeckman, the senior starter, was 14-for-21 passing for 84 yards and threw two interceptions.
The Buckeyes' leading receiver for a second game in a row was Ray Small, who hauled in six passes for a total of 30 yards.
The offensive star of the night, however, was Sanchez, who completed 17 of his 28 pases for 172 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw an interception late in the second quarter when the Trojans were looking to add to their lead.
Joe McKnight led a stable of running backs by accumulating 105 yards on 12 carries, an 8.8-yard average.
Ohio State returns to action at noon Sept. 20 with a visit from Troy at Ohio Stadium.