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September 22, 2007
LOS ANGELES — USC coach Pete Carroll said he wanted more production out of the Trojans' passing game.
His players responded.
After being kept under wraps for the season's first two games, John David Booty passed for 279 yards and four touchdowns, and No. 1 Southern California opened the Pac-10 season by beating Washington State 47-14 Saturday night for its 35th consecutive victory at home.
The Trojans (3-0, 1-0 Pac-10) are attempting to win at least a share of the conference championship for an unprecedented sixth straight season.
Booty completed 10 passes for 79 yards on USC's first possession, and 28 of 35 overall before coming out early in the fourth quarter. Booty, who passed for 350 yards previously this season, threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns to Fred Davis in the first half, when the Trojans took a 27-7 lead.
The outmanned Cougars (2-2, 0-1) didn't have a first down for six straight possessions after their opening drive.
"I'm really fired up about this offense because we have a lot of ways to go right now, a lot of places to put the football," Carroll said. "We ran for 200 and threw for 300 tonight."
Actually, the numbers were 302 and 207, giving the Trojans 509 yards of total offense to Washington State's 247. USC averaged 263.5 yards rushing and 175 yards passing in beating Idaho and Nebraska, prompting Carroll to work for a more balanced attack.
"We really needed to work on the throwing game and make sure we didn't lose any rhythm and make sure that we maintained John's confidence," the coach said.
Davis, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound senior who caught five passes for 87 yards in the first two games, had nine receptions for 124 yards against the Cougars, both career bests.
Several of Booty's completions came on quick passes to his wideouts, who were given plenty of room by the WSU cornerbacks. And Davis was open over the middle time after time.
The Trojans are 59-8-4 against Washington State, including 37-4-2 at the Los Angeles Coliseum where a crowd of 86,876 watched their latest triumph.
As successful as the Trojans have been in this series, the Cougars gave them all they could handle last year before losing 28-22. The game ended with Taylor Mays intercepting Alex Brink's desperation pass at the USC 4-yard line.
It was a much different story this time, with Brink coming out early in the fourth quarter after completing 17 of 33 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
"This was an old-fashioned butt-whipping," Cougars coach Bill Doba said. "John David Booty did a nice job. John David is strong and quick and they protect him."
Dwight Tardy, who averaged 101 yards rushing in WSU's first three games, was held to 27 yards on 11 carries. Michael Bumpus and Brandon Gibson, the Cougars' standout wide receivers, made just three receptions each.
"They did nothing we weren't expecting, they were just too physical," Doba said. "They're the No. 1 team for a reason and played well. We did things you can't do against good teams."
Brink pointed to the Cougars' inconsistency.
"We moved the ball well at times, but shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers or penalties or not making third-and-shorts," he said. "Their defensive line allows them to do a lot of things. They can drop their linebackers in coverage because their line gets so much pressure."
Booty threw a 6-yard scoring pass to Davis on fourth-and-2, capping an 83-yard, 13-play drive following the opening kickoff and giving USC a 7-0 lead.
Brink's 44-yard pass to Gibson on third-and-18 from the Cougars' 8 triggered an 84-yard, 15-play drive that tied the game. The touchdown came on a 3-yard pass from Brink to Jed Collins.
The Cougars picked up five first downs on their opening possession. They wouldn't get No. 6 until the third quarter.
Desmond Reed returned the ensuing kickoff 44 yards to the WSU 42, and the Trojans needed only seven plays to take a 14-7 lead on Stanley Havili' s 1-yard run.
David Buehler kicked a 23-yard field goal on USC's next possession, and the Trojans then turned two WSU mistakes into 10 more points for their 20-point halftime lead.
First, punter Darryl Blunt mishandled what appeared to be a perfect snap from center, and was tackled at the Cougars' 20. Booty threw a 14-yard scoring pass to Davis three plays later.
Then Brink, under heavy pressure, threw into a crowd and Kyle Moore picked it off, setting up a 29-yard field goal by Buehler.
The Trojans scored twice in the third quarter on a 7-yard run by Washington and a 4-yard pass from Booty to Allen Bradford. In between, Brink threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Bumpus.
Booty's 20-yard pass to Vidal Hazelton with 11:28 remaining completed the scoring. That turned out to be Booty's final play of the game.