Barkley ties USC record with five TDs
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Nassib completed his first 11 passes for 74 yards before the Trojans adjusted, and USC's Matt Barkley passed for 324 yards and a school record-tying five touchdowns to five different receivers Saturday night in a 38-17 victory over the previously unbeaten Orange.
''We were ready to go. We came out of the tunnel, got the ball first and were ready to go,'' said Nassib, who finished 25 of 37 for 230 yards. ''I was just getting the ball out, making quick reads and getting the ball to our guys, but later, I made the mistake of trying to do too much.
''They dialed up some pressures and things we haven't seen before. They made a lot of good plays. It was hard for us to build any momentum, but it was the offense's fault for not keeping the defense off the field. We wore out our defense.''
The Trojans scored just one second-half offensive touchdown in their first two games and averaged 21 points in victories over Minnesota and Utah. It was a much different story in this game.
USC's offensive explosion snapped a string of six straight games in which the Trojans had scored fewer than 30 points. They entered the game ranked 90th in scoring among the country's 120 FBS schools.
''We had them in a perfect position on numerous occasions. It was third-and-15, third-and-long, and they made the perfect play and got the ball out,'' Syracuse defensive end Mikhail Marinovich said. ''We're all disappointed, but we can't really dwell on this.
''We have to keep improving on everything we messed up on. The young guys are proving themselves week to week, but we've got a long way to go.''
Marinovich is the son of former USC lineman Marv Marinovich and the younger brother of Todd Marinovich, who passed for 337 yards and three touchdowns for the Trojans in a 34-16 victory over Syracuse 21 years ago at the Meadowlands in the most recent game between the schools.
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''It was awesome to be here in front of my father, all of my friends and family,'' said the younger Marinovich, who recovered a fumble and was in on three tackles. ''(I'm) just disappointed we couldn't come out with a win.
Robert Woods caught eight passes for 82 yards and a touchdown for the Trojans (3-0), giving him 33 receptions this season, the most in any three-game span by a USC player in school history. Keyshawn Johnson caught 32 passes in the final three games of the 1995 season.
Barkley completed 26 of 39 passes without being intercepted. The junior from nearby Newport Beach threw for five touchdowns twice last season and is one of five players to accomplish the feat at USC. He has thrown nine TD passes while being picked off just once this year.
''It's about time. It kind of felt like Trojan football again,'' Barkley said of USC's offensive effort. ''If they're going to leave guys open, we're going to exploit that.''
Barkley threw a 44-yard scoring pass to wide-open freshman Randall Telfer on the fourth play of the third quarter, giving the Trojans a 24-3 lead.
The Orange reached the USC 35 on their next possession, but Nassib was sacked on third down by DaJohn Harris and Shane Horton, forcing a punt. The Trojans then went 80 yards on eight plays, scoring on a 43-yard pass from Barkley to freshman Marqise Lee to make it 31-10.
Barkley's final TD pass was a 9-yarder to freshman Xavier Grimble early in the fourth quarter. Ryan Nassib's 12-yard scoring pass to Lemon with 6:34 to play completed the scoring in the game.
''It wasn't blown coverage,'' Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said of the wide-open USC receivers. ''It was being in poor position. It wasn't a lack of communication. They just made plays. I have to do a better job of protecting some of these kids, putting them in better positions.''
The Trojans piled up 501 yards in total offense to 331 for the Orange.
Ross Krautman kicked a 23-yard field goal on Syracuse's first possession for a 3-0 lead. The Trojans responded by moving 66 yards on 10 plays to go ahead 7-3, scoring on Barkley's 5-yard pass to Rhett Ellison.
Nassib didn't throw his first incompletion until the opening minute of the second quarter. He wouldn't complete another pass until the final 90 seconds of the first half.
With that, the USC defense began asserting itself, putting pressure on Nassib and stuffing the Syracuse running game. The opportunistic Trojans' offense took advantage, scoring 10 second-quarter points for a 17-3 halftime lead.
First came a 31-yard touchdown pass from Barkley to Woods, capping a 58-yard drive aided by a pass interference penalty against Kevyn Scott. Andre Heidari added a 26-yard field goal with 1:34 left in the period, but was wide left on a 46-yarder on the final play of the half.
The game was played before a crowd of 65,873 at the Coliseum. USC plays its first road game of the season next Saturday night at No. 22 Arizona State (2-1), a 17-14 loser at Illinois on Saturday while Syracuse entertains Toledo (1-2).