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Bear Country Jamboree

No. 1 USC avoids the usual dramatics against Cal in a 35-10 victory at Berkeley that extends win streak to 32 games and eases memory of loss there in 2003.

November 13, 2005|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

BERKELEY — A last-minute defensive stand was not required.

There was no need for a phantom touchdown catch. Or a blocked field-goal attempt in overtime.

The dramatic plays and moments that characterized USC's games against California the last three seasons were absent Saturday at Memorial Stadium, courtesy of a Trojan defense that dominated from start to finish in a 35-10 victory before a sellout crowd of 72,981.

The victory extended USC's winning streak to 32 games. It also helped ease the memory of the Trojans' last visit here two years ago, when an up-and-coming Cal team handed USC its only loss in the last 44 games.

"As far as I'm concerned, that's a long time ago, and I ain't real worried about it anymore," Coach Pete Carroll said of the triple-overtime defeat.

USC improved to 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the Pacific 10 Conference by causing six turnovers and methodically wearing down the Golden Bears on a cool, breezy day.

Fiesta Bowl representatives were in attendance, but the Trojans remained firmly on track for a berth in the Rose Bowl -- this season's bowl championship series title game -- and a shot at an unprecedented third consecutive national title.

Running back LenDale White rushed for three touchdowns and quarterback Matt Leinart scrambled for two more to avenge his only loss as a starter.

A determined defensive line and musical-chairs linebacker corps helped the Trojans intercept four passes by jittery quarterback Joe Ayoob while holding Cal to its lowest point total in Coach Jeff Tedford's three-plus seasons.

Afterward, USC players and coaches said they had been looking for "separation" from a Cal program that has been nipping at the Trojans' heels since Tedford arrived.

USC defeated the Golden Bears by two points three years ago, lost by three here in 2003 and held on for a six-point win last season at the Coliseum with a dramatic defensive stand.

"We wanted to just leave a statement today that things are changing," said Leinart, who passed for 246 yards.

Safety Darnell Bing intercepted Ayoob's first pass on the sixth play from scrimmage, setting up White's first touchdown.

"For us to get an interception on the first pass, everyone took that as a time to step up and start playing," said Bing.

Linebackers Rey Maualuga and Collin Ashton and safety Ryan Ting also intercepted passes. Linebacker Keith Rivers and lineman Kyle Moore recovered fumbles for the Trojans, who have caused 11 turnovers in their last two games.

USC shut down the Golden Bears despite its youthful linebacker brigade.

Maualuga, who finished with six tackles, played most of the game at middle linebacker after Thomas Williams suffered a knee injury. Fellow freshman Brian Cushing started at one outside spot and had a team-high seven tackles; Rivers, a sophomore, started at the other and had six tackles.

Cal entered the game averaging 243 yards rushing a game, but USC held running back Marshawn Lynch to 87 yards, and limited the Golden Bears to 299 total yards.

Ayoob completed nine of 19 passes for only 98 yards.

"You can't afford to be one-dimensional against USC," Tedford said. "We were not clicking in the passing game [and] turned the ball over too many times."

The Trojans' 35 points and 434 yards were their second-lowest totals of the season, but they were never threatened.

On a day when Leinart did not throw a touchdown pass and Reggie Bush did not score a touchdown, USC built a 21-3 halftime lead and cruised to victory.

"It was easy for us today," said White, who rushed for 90 yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He scored on runs of one, six and two yards and also caught three passes for 61 yards.

After White's touchdown on the Trojans' first possession, Cal's Tom Schneider kicked a 45-yard field goal to cut the deficit to four points.

USC increased its lead to 14-3 midway through the second quarter when Leinart capped a 70-yard, 11-play drive with a six-yard scramble into the end zone.

Cal went three and out on its next two possessions, giving Leinart all the opportunity he would need. His 44-yard completion to Dwayne Jarrett set up Leinart's three-yard scramble for a touchdown and a 21-3 lead.

On the first possession of the second half, White turned a short pass into a 49-yard gain. Then he finished an 80-yard drive with his second touchdown for a 28-3 lead.

He scored his final touchdown midway through the fourth quarter before Cal scored its touchdown on a one-yard run by fullback Chris Manderino with 1:34 left.

Leinart, who had three passes intercepted here in 2003 and was held to a career-low 164 yards passing last season against Cal, finished 20 for 32 with an interception. Bush rushed for 82 yards in 17 carries.

After draining comeback victories at Oregon, Arizona State and Notre Dame, Carroll seemed relieved to gain a victory devoid of drama.

With its final road game behind it, USC has two regular-season games left, this week against Fresno State and Dec. 3 against UCLA, both at the Coliseum.

"This was the last one and knowing that we get on that plane and we're going home to stay, that's pretty sweet," Carroll said.



All Fall Down

USC vs. opponents during the Trojans' 32-game winning streak:

*--* PAC-10 Opponent Record Arizona 3-0 Arizona State 3-0 Stanford 3-0 Washington 3-0 Washington State 3-0 California 2-0 Oregon State 2-0 UCLA 2-0 Oregon 1-0 NONCONFERENCE Opponent Record Notre Dame 3-0 Michigan 1-0 Virginia Tech 1-0 Colorado State 1-0 Brigham Young 1-0 Oklahoma 1-0 Hawaii 1-0 Arkansas 1-0


Note -- USC has beaten every Pac-10 team home and road except for Oregon. The Trojans have played the Ducks just once -- this season at Oregon -- during the streak.

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