Back to the future

Looking like their old selves, Trojans frustrate Golden Bears in every way imaginable as they cruise to 48-14 win.

In 2001, Pete Carroll's first season, USC lost in heart-breaking fashion at Oregon and Washington only to win five of its final six games and set the stage for the Trojan Dynasty to come.

In 2010, Lane Kiffin's team looks to have turned the same corner.

"Reminds me of the way we used to play here," defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron said. "There was no doubt about that on the field."

USC bounced back from last-second losses and put together its best performance under Kiffin, bludgeoning California, 48-14, in front of 72,386 at the Coliseum on Saturday.


USC's defense gave Wes Horton plenty of reasons to cheer. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
Matt Barkley threw for five touchdowns, all in the first half, and twice hit Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods for scores, but it was the defense that came alive for the first time this year.

Behind a simplified and aggressive attack, the Trojans (5-2, 2-2 Pac-10) limited the Golden Bears to 245 yards of offense, most of which was accumulated in the second half with the game no longer in doubt.

Assistant head coach Monte Kiffin allowed players to make calls at the line of scrimmage and dialed up the pressure. In the process, the defense, which suffered catastrophic breakdowns against Washington and at Stanford, looked as good as it had all year.

"We just felt like we going to put our feet to the grass and play," Orgeron said. "That's all that happened today."

Even without defensive end Wes Horton and linebacker Malcolm Smith in the starting lineup due to injury, they limited Shane Vereen to 53 yards on 10 carries and forced Kevin Riley into a miserable 15 of 29 outing, throwing for just 193 yards and two interceptions along with two late touchdowns.

The effort came after senior cornerback Shareece Wright called a players' only meeting this week to address the defense.

"I felt like we needed it," Wright said. "The team responded really well, the defense responded to what I talked about. It was the same thing Coach Kiffin emphasizes, just from a player's perspective. Everybody do what they have to do, we going to win games."

That has not been an issue for the potent USC offense, averaging 41 points per game in Pac-10 play, which shredded a Cal (3-3, 1-2 Pac-10) defense which had ranked first in the conference in several categories.

Barkley threw for 352 yards and tied the school record for touchdowns in a game for the second time this season, joining Mark Sanchez as the only Trojan quarterback to throw for five scores in one half.

Woods had 141 yards of total offense, Johnson added 45 yards on seven receptions and Marc Tyler rushed for a game-high 79 yards and a touchdown.

"As a team, from offense to defense, I think we played our most complete game yet," Barkley said. "It was really good to see everyone in each phase of the game on point. That's what we needed this week and we got it."

Now USC has a bye week before hosting Oregon, which should jump to No. 1 in both the AP and USA Today polls after top-ranked Ohio State lost at Wisconsin, on Oct. 30.

The Ducks demolished the Trojans, 47-20, on Halloween last season.

"We definitely don't want last year to happen and we have an opportunity not to let it," Wright said.


T.J. McDonald goes up high to make the interception. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)


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