Number One With A Bullet

Top-ranked Southern California ran through, around and all over Nebraska in a 49-31 victory Saturday night in Lincoln.

Stafon Johnson ran for 144 yards and one of USC's five rushing touchdowns and John David Booty threw two short TD passes.

The Trojans (2-0) piled up 313 yards rushing and won for the 61st time in 67 games. It was a thoroughly impressive performance and far more one-sided affair than the final score showed.

"I didn't think there was any question we could run the ball at any time," says USC coach Pete Carroll.

"Anything we wanted to get done on the line of scrimmage we were able to get done. This game was clear that we had command of it. I love that we played the way we did today."

The Huskers (2-1), who Sunday dropped from 14th on the AP and USA Today polls to 24th and 22nd respectively, were playing host to a No. 1-ranked team for the first time since 1978.

They came into the game in search of a breakthrough victory for fourth-year coach Bill Callahan. They're still looking after dropping to 1-10 all-time against No. 1s and 0-6 under Callahan against teams ranked in the Top 10.

USC's 49 points were the third-most scored by an opponent in Lincoln. "We've got to get better," said Callahan.

The Trojans broke open the game by scoring three straight touchdowns to open the second half, the first two set up by interceptions. "Once we got going, geez, we just took control," says Carroll.

USC led 49-17 in the fourth quarter, but Sam Keller led two touchdown drives against the Trojans' prevent defense to close the gap.

USC running backs broke off 12 runs of 10 yards or more, including six of 20 or longer. "We wanted to come in and play Trojan ball," Johnson said. "The crowd was bananas, but we came in and played our way and got the win."

The Trojans' rushing total was their most since running for 403 against UCLA in 2005 and the most allowed by Nebraska since Texas ran for 353 in 2003.

The 8.2 yards per carry was the most ever against Nebraska. "It's beyond disappointing," says linebacker Bo Ruud.

"This is a real bad performance by our team. It's on the players. We didn't do a good job on the defensive side of the ball. The defense did not show up today."

"They just whipped us up front," says Nebraska defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt. "They outphysicaled us and we didn't play very good fundamentally. We missed a lot of tackles. It was ugly."

Nebraska, which ran for 68 yards in a 28-10 loss at USC last year, netted just 31 yards on the ground on Saturday.

The Trojans scored on back-to-back series in the second quarter to erase a 10-7 deficit.

C.J. Gable, who had 69 yards on four carries, had runs of 14 and 11 yards and Johnson a 16-yarder before Stanley Havili ran in from the two.

Nebraska went three-and-out, and then Booty sprinkled in three short passes with five handoffs as the Trojans drove 73 yards in nine plays for a 21-10 halftime lead.

Johnson broke off a 32-yard run to the Nebraska 25, and three plays later he scored from the seven after his offensive line created a massive opening on a trap play.

Sam Keller was intercepted on Nebraska's first two series of the second half, and the Trojans capitalized both times during the middle of a 35-point run that put the Trojans up 42-10.

Booty found tight end Anthony McCoy alone in the back of the end zone for a two-yard TD, and Chauncey Washington scored to make it 35-10 after Kyle Moore ran back an interception 24 yards to the Nebraska one.

USC established the run immediately, with Havili going for 50 yards and Gable for 40 on the Trojans' first two plays. Booty finished the drive with a five-yard pass to Havili.

Nebraska tied it after a rarely called penalty on USC, disconcerting offensive signals, made the difference between a field goal and touchdown.

The Huskers stalled at the USC four and Alex Henery came on to try a 21-yarder. But Rey Maualuga was caught mimicking the offensive snap count, violating NCAA Rule 7, Article 5, which says "no player may call defensive signals that simulates the sounds or cadence of (or otherwise interfere with) offensive starting signals."

The penalty set up Nebraska with first-and-goal at the two and Cody Glenn scored two plays later from a yard out to tie it 7-7.

After Henery's 37-yard field goal put Nebraska up 10-7, the Trojans started their next possession at the Huskers' 45 after Malcolm Smith picked up kick returner Vincent Joseph's fumble and returned it 31 yards.

Joseph, who lost the ball when hit by Ricky Thenarse, was taken off the field on a stretcher after being tended to for more than 10 minutes.
He was hospitalized with a bruised larynx.

Booty was 19-of-30 for 144 yards. Keller was 36-of-54 for 389 yards, including 14-of-19 for 169 yards and two TDs in the fourth quarter.

Maurice Purify caught seven passes for 80 yards for the Huskers.

"It's not garbage time to us," Keller said of the fourth quarter when Nebraska put 21 points on the board, albeit too little too late.

"We're going to try to score every time every play. We kept plugging away. We weren't going to go into the tank just because things weren't going our way."

Nebraska-USC statistics