FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- If this is what a rebuilding year
looks like at Southern California, the rest of the country could be
in big trouble.
John David Booty threw three touchdown passes in the second
half, and the sixth-ranked Trojans rolled to a 50-14 win over
Arkansas on Saturday night in their first game since Reggie Bush
and Matt Leinart moved on to the NFL.
USC offense vs. Arkansas defense
USC ran up 50 points and nearly 500 yards of total offense on Arkansas' defense Saturday night. But before anyone goes annointing John David Booty the next Matt Leinart, check out how USC's performance against the Razorbacks this season compares with how what the Trojans did against the Hogs in '05.
"It's great," Booty said. "Some people have doubted us --
didn't know really what we had. To be able to come out tonight and
score 50 points -- I thought our offensive line and our running
backs did a great job."
USC beat Arkansas 70-17 last year, but was expected to slip a
bit without Leinart and Bush, the 2004 and 2005 Heisman Trophy
winners. Instead, the Trojans exceeded the 49 points per game they
averaged last season.
USC needed a little help getting started, and the Razorbacks
provided it with five turnovers -- three while the game was still in
scoring 20+ points
"We can't give a team of their caliber that many
opportunities," Arkansas quarterback Robert Johnson said.
Arkansas running back Felix Jones fumbled three times in the
first half, and USC recovered two of them. Kevin Thomas returned
Jones' last fumble 12 yards to the Arkansas 3. After an
incompletion, freshman C.J. Gable ran for a touchdown to give USC a
The Trojans led 16-7 at halftime, and Terrell Thomas'
interception early in the third quarter gave USC the ball at the
Arkansas 28. Booty's 14-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Turner made
USC has won 46 of its last 48 games. The Trojans went 12-1 last
year, just missing an unprecedented third straight national title
when they lost to Texas 41-38.
Last year, the Trojans scored four touchdowns in their first
eight plays against Arkansas. USC didn't strike as quickly this
time, but had no trouble controlling the ball against the
Razorbacks, keeping it for 35:19.
Booty went 24-of-35 for 261 yards and made few mistakes as he
began the difficult challenge of replacing Leinart at quarterback.
"I thought he handled himself beautifully," USC coach Pete
Carroll said. "Got us off to a terrific start."
USC finally went on an extended touchdown drive toward the end
of the third quarter. The Trojans moved 80 yards in 11 plays, and
Booty found Fred Davis in the back corner of the end zone for a
Darren McFadden had nine carries for 42 yards for Arkansas.
McFadden, last year's Southeastern Conference freshman of the year,
dislocated his toe in late July in a fight outside a Little Rock
club. His status had been uncertain, but he was on the field for
the Razorbacks' first play from scrimmage.
"It's a little sore, but it's all right," said McFadden, who
said he felt about 80 to 85 percent.
Johnson went 12-of-25 for 110 yards with two interceptions. He
completed seven consecutive passes on a second-quarter drive -- one
he finished with a 1-yard touchdown run.
But aside from that, the Razorbacks struggled to move the ball
against a USC defense looking to improve on an inconsistent year,
capped by a poor showing against Texas in the Rose Bowl.
Prized freshman Mitch Mustain entered at quarterback for
Arkansas in the fourth quarter to a warm ovation from the crowd. He
immediately drove the Razorbacks downfield and scored on a 4-yard
run to make it 44-14, but he threw an interception on Arkansas'
"It was a lot of fun," Mustain said. "The stuff that I ran
was stuff I was pretty familiar with."
Mustain was one of the most touted recruits ever to come out of
Arkansas. He played in high school at Springdale, which is about 20
minutes from Fayetteville. The Razorbacks hired Gus Malzahn,
Mustain's coach at Springdale, as offensive coordinator in
USC also showcased some of its younger players. For the first
time, Tailback U started a true freshman at that position in a
season opener. Gable began the game in the backfield and ran for 51
Freshman Emmanuel Moody scored on a 9-yard run to make it 44-7,
and freshman Allen Bradford added a 1-yard run for the Trojans'
final touchdown. Moody finished with 58 yards on seven carries.
"With the three young tailbacks all getting touchdowns, that's
pretty cool," Carroll said.
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt lost for the first time in nine
season openers with the Razorbacks.
The crowd of 76,564 set a record for Arkansas' Fayetteville