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September 3, 2006

USC pulls away for a big win over Arkansas


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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -Southern California's new-look offense was a little less explosive than the old one.

It was still more than good enough for another rout against Arkansas.

John David Booty threw three touchdown passes in the second half, and No. 6 USC beat the Razorbacks 50-14 Saturday night in its first game since Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart moved on to the NFL.

The Trojans beat Arkansas 70-17 last year, but they needed a little help getting started this time. The Razorbacks provided it with five turnovers - three while the game was still in doubt.

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 10-0 lead.

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 it 23-7.

Booty went 24-of-35 for 261 yards and made few mistakes as he begins the difficult challenge of replacing Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, at quarterback.

Later in the third quarter, USC finally went on an extended touchdown drive, moving 80 yards in 11 plays until Booty found Fred Davis in the back corner of the end zone for a 9-yard score.

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.

Arkansas' Robert 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' next possession.

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.

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 yards.

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.

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.

For more coverage of the USC Trojans, check out USCFootball.com and for more coverage of the Arkansas Razorbacks, check out HawgSports.com.



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