USC records largest shutout victory since 1931

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Two hours before kickoff, Southern California's players menacingly rocked their buses, as if they couldn't wait to get on the field. There would be no taking Washington State lightly, not after what happened on their last trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Mark Sanchez became the first USC quarterback to throw five touchdown passes in a half and the focused No. 6 Trojans dominated this time as a huge favorite, beating Washington State 69-0 on Saturday a month after they were upset by Oregon State.

USC's defense, ranked first in the nation coming in by allowing just 9.4 points per game, ended the Cougars' streak of scoring at 280 games dating to Sept. 15, 1984, when Ohio State beat Washington State 44-0. That scoring streak was second-longest in the nation to Michigan's 295 games.

"Our guys had a ball playing football today, from the locker room on out," coach Pete Carroll said. "Right from the start, we wanted to find that focus that we really hadn't had yet."

It was the largest shutout victory for USC (5-1, 3-1 Pac-10) since a 69-0 win over Montana in 1931.

"Our intention wasn't to come out and beat these guys by 80 points. Our intention was to come out and play a great football game," star linebacker Rey Maualuga said.

The Trojans easily could have done both. Maualuga was kicking himself for having a potential interception and touchdown bang off his hand in the second quarter. And USC began showing mercy at the end of the first half, marching to the WSU 10 but then letting time expire.

The Trojans have won their last three games by a combined 141-10 since that stunning loss at Oregon State on Sept. 25 cost them their No. 1 ranking. They have scored 117 unanswered points. They have recorded consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1971.

"That loss to Oregon State couldn't have come at a better time as far as waking everybody up," Maualuga said.

Sanchez wasn't surprised.

"It's supposed to look that way when you prepare that way," said the Pac-10's leader in passing efficiency, with 19 touchdowns and six interceptions.

He completed 15 of 20 passes for 253 yards. He also tied the school record of five scoring throws for a game -- shared with Rodney Peete, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart -- with 4:51 still remaining in the second quarter. Tight end Anthony McCoy turned a 10-yard pass into a 21-yard touchdown by spinning off a hit by Xavier Hicks.

The Cougars (1-7, 0-5) absorbed their largest margin of defeat since they began playing in 1894. And that's with Carroll pulling his starters beginning in the first quarter, Sanchez playing only 2 1/2 quarters, and USC mostly running basic off-tackle plays in the second half -- when it still scored 28 points.

At least Washington State won't lose again this week. It has a bye.

"I'd take two," first-year coach Paul Wulff said.

Beset by injuries, Washington State has allowed 66, 63, 66 and now 69 in four of their conference losses. The Cougars, whose only win is against Portland State of the Championship Subdivision, have been outscored 385-111 this season. That's on track to break the Pac-10 record for most points allowed in a season, 469 by Oregon State in 1981.

"It's unfortunate for those guys. They are trying to build a program," Carroll said. "It's tough. I don't know what else we could have done.

"It was a little bit uncomfortable to see what was going to happen."

The Trojans outgained Washington State 408-17 in the first half and 625-116 for the game. They led 21-0 less than 11 minutes in. Patrick Turner and Ronald Johnson each caught two of Sanchez's scoring throws, freshman Broderick Green rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns and C.J. Gable ran for 109 yards and three more scores. Stafon Johnson must have had an off game. He ran for 112 yards but didn't score.

It was the first time USC had three 100-yard rushers in a game since 1977.

"We're at where we're supposed to be," Gable said.

On offense, the Cougars never crossed midfield. They protected quarterback Kevin Lopina from getting hit and tried to shorten this rout by snapping directly to running backs and even wide receivers in passing situations. Lopina completed six of nine passes for 28 yards -- WSU's lowest air output since 1975 -- with one interception. He hit the ground twice in his return from a broken bone in his back.

Washington State had four first downs. They didn't advance past their own 38-yard line until the third quarter -- when third-stringer Logwone Mitz lost a fumble at the WSU 40 at the end of a run.

The dispirited home fans gave a derisive standing ovation 2:30 left in the first quarter when Lopina found Jeshua Anderson for a 10-yard completion and WSU's only first down of the half.

"Something has to change. It has to," Cougars defensive lineman Andy Mattingly said. "A lot of guys are getting used to losing. It doesn't [tick] them off that we are losing this bad."