USC has the image of a grind-it-out football team, and Stanford is known for its sophisticated passing offense.
There was an identity crisis Saturday at the Coliseum. The Trojans were the big-play passing team, while the Cardinal just nibbled away, using short-yardage passes without much success.
USC shocked Stanford in the first half with long passes that set up touchdowns and went on to win, 30-6, before a crowd of 56,837.
The outcome was predictable, and both teams suffered injuries that could have a bearing on the rest of the season.
USC offensive guard Tom Hallock strained a ligament in his right knee in the first quarter and could be inactive for three weeks. His teammate, nose guard Tony Colorito, sprained his left ankle, and his status is questionable for next Saturday's game against Notre Dame at South Bend, Ind.
Stanford also had a serious setback. Quarterback John Paye, who performed courageously in the face of a fierce USC pass rush, has a separated right shoulder. The injury was incurred on Stanford's first series. Still, he remained in the game until the fourth quarter, when he was replaced by Fred Buckley.
X-rays will be taken of his shoulder today or Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
Paye was performing under duress as Colorito and defensive tackles Brent Moore and Matt Koart were constantly in his face.
"You might say that we got our mail in the Stanford backfield," Colorito said.
By winning, USC improved its overall record to 3-2 and 2-1 in the Pacific 10. Stanford, which has lost five straight games, is 1-5 overall and 0-3 in league play.
USC led, 20-0, at halftime, had a lull in the third quarter but was never really in danger of losing.
Tailback Fred Crutcher scored three touchdowns on short runs, and Don Shafer, a shaky field-goal kicker until Saturday, was accurate with kicks measuring 24, 47 and 36 yards.
But the decisive plays came in a most unlikely manner.
On the third play of the game, USC quarterback Sean Salisbury rolled to his right while split end Hank Norman was running unattended downfield.
It was just a question of whether Salisbury's pass would reach Norman, who was behind the Cardinal secondary. It did. Norman gathered in the pass at the Stanford 33-yard line and wasn't halted until he reached the 14. It was a 63-yard play, setting up the Trojans' first touchdown.
"We put the play in this week," Salisbury said. "Their weak cornerback (Walt Harris) had a tendency to go with the flow of the bootleg motion."
Norman said that the cornerback didn't pay any attention to him on his long pass route.
Early in the second quarter, Crutcher took a pitchout and then handed the ball to flanker Randy Tanner. The flanker reverse isn't an unusual play for the Trojans, but Tanner didn't plan on running. He pulled up and threw a 50-yard pass to Norman, who was waiting at the Stanford 25.
Norman was tackled almost immediately, but the stunning play set up USC's second touchdown.
"In the films, Stanford's defensive backs had a tendency to bite on play-action motion," Tanner said. "It took me a long time to throw the pass because I'm short (5-11) and I couldn't see over the linemen."
Tanner, a sophomore, was a part-time quarterback when he played at Bishop Amat High School.
"They'd put me in for a few plays at quarterback because I have a pretty strong arm," he said.
Remarkably, USC attempted only 11 passes in the first half but had more passing yardage, 162 to 140, than Stanford, even though Paye thew 31 times, completing 18.
Most of his passes, though, were medium-range throws. He tried to go deep a few times, but without much success.
"I have all the respect in the world for him (Paye)," Colorito said.
Paye completed some passes while he was falling down, or being hounded into the sideline. He got to know Colorito and his teammates on a first-name basis.
The Trojan tailback tandem of senior Crutcher and freshman Aaron Emanuel was effective against the Cardinal.
Crutcher gained 105 yards on 22 carries, including a neat 19-yard cutback preceding USC's second touchdown. Emanuel was a punishing runner, gaining 122 yards in 21 carries. His 30-yard burst up the middle in the fourth quarter set up USC's last touchdown.
It was the first time since 1978 in a game against California that USC has had two 100-yard rushers. Charles White and Lynn Cain, now with the Rams, accomplished the feat then.
Even though USC was a big-play passing team, Salisbury didn't have a good day overall. He completed only 5 of 14 passes for 92 yards--with 63 yards coming on one throw.
"I didn't play well and I have no reason for it," Salisbury said. "If it was a final examination, I would have flunked. But I'm a very confident person and I'll have a hell of a game next week."
Rodney Peete, a redshirt freshman, replaced Salisbury in the fourth quarter and directed USC to its only touchdown in the second half.