Trojans tame Cougars in big win

In a game that went about as expected the USC Trojans were able to overpower the Washington State Cougars on the way to a 42-12 victory on Saturday in Pullman.

In a game that went about as expected the USC Trojans were able to overpower the Washington State Cougars on the way to a 42-12 victory on Saturday in Pullman.

There were plenty of offensive stars for the Trojans from Matt Leinart (23 of 28 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns) to the "Thunder and Lightning" running back duo of Reggie Bush (151 all-purpose yards, two touchdowns) and LenDale White (two touchdowns) as well as wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett (two touchdowns). The USC defense wasn't too bad either as they dominated the Cougar offense the entire night with big hits and turnovers (Mike Patterson had a pair of fumble recoveries, Manuel Wright recovered a fumble and Terrell Thomas had a pick).

Things got started on a good note for USC when Washington State tried an onside kick on the opening play only to see that strategy backfire when the kicker didn't get the ball past the mandatory ten yard limit. It didn't take long for Bush to get into the end zone as he took a handoff and used his speed to get to the outside for the score. Surprisingly, it was the first start of his Trojan career for Bush (a player some media members are calling the most talented in the country) and it's a credit to Reggie that we've never heard him even mention it or complain at any time.

Desmond Reed followed that up with a fantastic play on the ensuing kickoff when he hustled downfield and recovered the Killeen kick. That's the type of play Reed is starting to make on a consistent basis and it's sure to earn him high marks from the coaches. A touchdown run from LenDale followed shortly after that but the quick strike Trojans weren't done yet. The USC defense held the Cougar offense on the next possession which forced a punt that Bush returned on a dazzling return and with 7:22 left in the first quarter the Trojans had a 21-0 lead and the game was basically over.

From that point on USC fans were able to sit back and watch a steady stream of highlight quality plays from Dallas Sartz stripping the ballcarrier (Patterson recovered the ball) to a Jeff Byers block from deep in USC territory to spring LenDale on a big run as well as a nice tackle on a Michael Bumpus punt return from Josh Pinkard.

Leinart continued the scoring for the Trojans when he threw a beautiful deep pass to Jarrett for a 42 yard touchdown and then Shaun Cody forced yet another turnover, a fumble which was recovered by Patterson. Another touchdown run from White made it 35-0 and that's the way the first half ended although USC threatened to score again after a long completion to Jason Mitchell inside the five yard line but, somewhat surprisingly, the Trojans were unable to punch it in.

The second half got started with another touchdown pass from Leinart to Jarrett and at that point all that was left was for Pete Carroll to empty his bench and start giving his reserves some playing time. Unfortunately, that decision provided the only real drama of the game as back-up quarterback Matt Cassel struggled upon entering the game and after a fumbled center exchange with new center Jeff Byers, which led to a Washington State score, and an interception returned for a touchdown it was enough for Carroll to send a strong message to his team by putting Leinart back in the game.

We did see some solid running in the second half from both Hershel Dennis and Desmond Reed with Hershel in particular popping off some nice runs in extended action.

The Trojans advance to 8-0 and continue to maintain their stronghold on the top spot of the national rankings on a day when several other high ranked teams were extended into overtime sessions (including a big loss by the Miami Hurricanes in Chapel Hill). USC now gets ready for another cold and rainy road trip to the Northwest next week as they will face the Oregon State Beavers in another game the Trojans will be heavily favored to win.

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