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USC rewind & fast forward

Times Staff Writer

Rewind

Looking back at No. 1 USC’s 49-31 victory over No. 14 Nebraska

As expected: The Trojans, quietly bothered by pundits and pollsters who turned their eyes and votes to Louisiana State and others, were too fast for a Nebraska team that tackled poorly the week before against Wake Forest.

Defensive linemen Lawrence Jackson and Sedrick Ellis and linebackers Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga beat the Cornhuskers off the ball and to the gaps. Running backs Stafon Johnson, C.J. Gable and fullback Stanley Havili outran pursuit, though gigantic holes courtesy of the offensive line often gave them a huge head start.

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Unexpected: USC kicked off to start the first and second half.

According to the official game statistics, Nebraska won the coin toss and deferred.

USC captains, conditioned to defer when the Trojans win the toss, mistakenly chose to kick off when asked by the officials if they wanted to do so, according to Coach Pete Carroll.

“We just screwed it up,” Carroll said.

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Stepped up: Johnson ran for a career-best 144 yards and Gable averaged 17.3 yards a carry, but defensive end Kyle Moore also made a huge impact for a previously turnover-starved defense.

Moore, who did not start against Idaho because he was late for the team bus, tipped one pass that led to an interception by Terrell Thomas and then dropped back into coverage and intercepted a pass.

Moore has had a hand in all three turnovers caused by the Trojans this season. He recovered a fumble in the opener against Idaho.

Stepped back: Junior receiver Patrick Turner was supposed to supply quarterback John David Booty with an experienced target, but the lanky junior dropped several passes in his season debut.

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Turner missed the Idaho game because of a pinched nerve in his shoulder, the result of a huge practice collision with linebacker Maualuga. A couple of Turner’s drops came on routes over the middle.

“It didn’t go the way I wanted it to go,” he said.

“Everyone has a bad night once in a while.”

Coach’s quote: Pete Carroll: “If you play well, crowd noise is not a big factor. When you jump out 21-10 and then hammer them in the third quarter, there’s not much for them to cheer about.”

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Injury report: Cornerback Vince Joseph, who suffered a bruised larynx when he was hit while returning a kickoff, wore a neck brace on the team plane, according to Carroll.

Linebacker Brian Cushing (ankle) could return to the lineup this week. Clay Matthews started in Cushing’s place and did not return after breaking a bone in his left thumb. Matthews said he would play for a few weeks with a soft cast. Alfred Rowe suffered a concussion.

Fast forward

Looking ahead to the game vs. Washington State (Saturday, Coliseum, 5 p.m., Channel 7)

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First look: The Cougars rebounded from a season-opening loss against Wisconsin to defeat San Diego State and Idaho.

Senior quarterback Alex Brink has led the way, passing for 315 yards a game with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Former Culver City High receiver Michael Bumpus caught eight passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns against Idaho.

Topic of the week: USC received great production from its tailback corps, but there is some frustration among the ranks.

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Gable gained 69 yards in four first-half carries but did not rush the ball in the second half. Freshman Joe McKnight has yet to get on track. He dropped a pass and also fumbled.

Season log (2-0)

Sept. 1: Idaho (1-2); Won, 38-10.

Sept. 15: at No. 14 Nebraska (2-1); Won, 49-31: Cornhuskers looking forward to Ball State after getting run over by a Trojans team that showed pollsters it belonged at No. 1.

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Sept. 22: Washington State (2-1): Cougars rebounded from season-opening loss at Wisconsin, but the Cougars haven’t won at Coliseum since 2000.

Sept. 29: at Washington (2-1)

Oct. 6: Stanford (1-1)

Oct. 13: Arizona (1-2)

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Oct. 20: at Notre Dame (0-3)

Oct. 27: at Oregon (3-0)

Nov. 3: Oregon State (2-1)

Nov. 10: at California (3-0)

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Nov. 22: at Arizona State (3-0)

Dec. 1: UCLA (2-1)


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