Southern California 38,
Arizona State 28
After another shaky start, No. 1 Southern California turned loose those Trojan horses in the backfield.
The strength and speed of LenDale White and Reggie Bush lifted the two-time defending national champion out of trouble on a sweltering Saturday in the desert.
White rushed for 197 yards on 19 attempts, Bush gained 158 on 17 carries and the Trojans rallied from 18 points down at the half to beat No. 14 Arizona State, 38-28, breaking a Pacific-10 and school record with their 26th victory in a row.
Southern California (4-0, 2-0) abandoned its big-play passing game in favor of the run, and the Sun Devils (3-2, 1-1) were helpless to stop it.
"They didn't try anything fancy in the second half," Sun Devils Coach Dirk Koetter said. "They just ran the two tailbacks at us."
The Trojans outrushed the Sun Devils, 373-68, in a matchup of two of the nation's most prolific offenses.
"We just pounded the football in the second half," USC Coach Pete Carroll said. "It was a beautiful job by the offensive linemen, a beautiful job by Reggie and LenDale."
Bush had touchdown runs of 24 and 34 yards, the second one giving the Trojans the lead for good at 31-28 with 3 minutes 44 seconds to go. White scored on romps of 32 and 46 yards, the latter putting USC up 38-28 with 2:22 left after Arizona State's Sam Keller was intercepted for the fourth time.
"They came out and fought real hard for a couple of quarters," White said. "Here at SC, we teach 'finish.' It's not about how the first and second quarter ends or the third, it's about how you finish in the fourth quarter."
Keller completed 26 of 45 for 347 yards and two touchdowns but was intercepted five times, four in the second half. Keller had been intercepted only twice going into the game, both in the season opener.
He had thrown 131 passes without a pick before Oscar Lua's interception in the second quarter.
"We very well could have won that game, and I think they were scared, too, at a lot of points in that game," Keller said. "A few bad plays by me, if they don't happen, then we win."
Terry Richardson's 84-yard punt return gave Arizona State an early 7-0 lead and the Sun Devils led 21-3 at the half, letting their fans revel in the 97-degree heat.
It was the second week in a row that USC fell behind on the road and rallied. Last week at Oregon, the Trojans trailed 13-0 but scored the next 45 points.