By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - Randy Fasani passed for 194 yards and two touchdowns as Stanford, off to its first 3-0 start since 1986, held off Southern California 21-16 on Saturday.
Fasani, who completed 11 of 25 passes with one interception, threw a 34-yard scoring pass to Luke Powell and a 2-yarder to Brett Pierce, both in the second quarter, to give the Cardinal (3-0, 2-0 Pac-10) a 21-0 lead.
Fasani, a fifth-year senior who also rushed for 43 yards on 10 carries, has thrown 10 touchdown passes with one interception this season.
The Trojans (1-3, 0-2 Pac-10), who played a miserable first half, cut Stanford's lead to 21-16 with 6:34 remaining when Chris Cash blocked Mike Biselli's 39-yard field-goal attempt and Kris Richard returned it 65 yards for a touchdown.
USC's attempt for a 2-point conversion failed.
The Trojans, who have lost three in a row, got the ball back at their 40 with 5:20 to play, but were forced to punt without getting a first down.
Fasani's 23-yard run to the USC 39 gave Stanford a first down with 3:05 left, and the Trojans then used their final timeout.
Kerry Carter, who gained 79 yards on 23 carries, picked up 12 yards on the next play, helping the Cardinal run out the clock.
Stanford had the ball for over nine minutes while getting into position for Biselli's field goal attempt, which would have made it 24-10, but Cash came up the middle to block the kick.
In the end, though, it didn't matter.
Stanford took a 7-0 lead on its second possession, scoring on a 4-yard run by Carter two plays after Fasani's 50-yard pass to Powell.
Fasani threw his TD pass to Powell on the first play of the second quarter two plays after USC botched a flea-flicker.
McCullough, trying to return the ball to Palmer, lateraled it right to Stanford's Brian Gaffney, who was unable to handle it, perhaps due to surprise, but teammate Anthony Gabriel recovered.
The Cardinal scored again six minutes later on the pass from Fasani to Pierce four plays after an interception by Ryan Fernandez at the USC 40.
Palmer and Charlie Landrigan teamed up on a 63-yard pass play to the Stanford 11 late in the second quarter, but the Trojans failed to cash in when Davis missed a 26-yard field goal.
Many in the crowd of 53,962 at the Los Angeles Coliseum booed as the Trojans left the field at halftime.
The Trojans blew two scoring chances in the first quarter, failing to capitalize on a fumble recovery by Kenechi Udeze at the Stanford 46 and a blocked punt by Troy Polamulu that gave them possession at their 49.
USC Head Coach Pete Carroll
"Well, I'm looking at a game report, and what I see is a list of penalties. It really disappoints me that we would go out and show that kind of a first half. We made mistakes of our own volition. We don't see them when we practice, but it's showing up in games. We are not playing smart enough. This is a good football team we played today, but we're not playing smart enough. They gave us things and we didn't capitalize.
"We gave up three big plays and made it so difficult on ourselves. We have to figure out a way to change it up.
"Our team plays really, really hard. It's an important part of our future. If that's the only thing we can hang our hats on after four weeks, it's something to build on. We're not playing smart. Our decision making is just not there right now. I like the fight in these kids. We're going to go back to work and clean it up. Unfortunately, that's where it's at after four weeks, but that's where it starts.
"We were embarrassed about how we played in the first half. In the second half it was just a matter of us going out and playing football. Unfortunately, it's just not good enough right now.
"We're not blocking very well at the point of attack. We're getting crushed up front when we run the ball. That's a good defense, but they didn't do anything special. We just didn't block well.
"We turned it around well in the second half. We blitzed well, had good special teams. But the first half was too much too overcome.
"We have four sophomores on the offensive line and we hope they develop and turn into the offensive line we need. They're not playing well enough right now.
"We need to start getting in the game and get something going offensively. We need to score some points so we can play in a normal mode.
Trojan Cornerback Kris Richard
"We realized in the lockerroom that it's not good enough. We're coached better than how we performed. It starts from the opening quarter when I allowed the ball to get caught over my head. I opened up a can of worms.
"(My) touchdown doesn't make up for it. I was just doing what I was coached to do. I was supposed to be there and if the ball is blocked, I'm supposed to be there. It doesn't make up for what I gave up.
"We were into the game. There were a few plays here and there that could have changed the outcome. This is the third game in a row in which we were so close to getting it done. I don't believe anyone was tired out there.
"We played to win. There's nothing written down in any book anywhere that says we can't win the rest of our games. And that's what we're going to try to do. It starts with Washington.
"We are a better football team than we are showing. We are one or two plays away. We are this close. It's a matter of taking those extra steps."
Trojan fullback Charlie Landrigan
"We had some penalties throughout the game and some incompletions and just couldn't get going. It's frustrating that we keep putting ourselves in a hole. It's all in the details.
(On the offense's woes)
"We're under pressure, but we don't get down on ourselves. It's up to the seniors to get things going.
(On the lack of running game)
"We just have to keep executing, hitting the holes and working on our assignments.
"We've been in every game. We just need to get over the hump. There's a lot of football to be played. We have a great opportunity next week."
Stanford Head Coach Tyrone Willingham
"We are 3-0 right now. Is that a good start? Yes it is. I don't worry about (Top 25) rankings. What we worry about is winning the football game. If we keep doing that, good things will happen."
"I thought in the first half, we played