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Saturday, September 3, 2011
Robert Woods opens 2011 in style


The Trojans weren't shy about pressing their advantage in Saturday's season-opening 19-17 win over Minnesota at the Coliseum.

They were going to throw the ball to All-America candidate Robert Woods early, often and everywhere. It worked in the sense that Woods broke a school record with 17 receptions for 177 yards and three touchdowns. It didn't work in the sense that USC barely hung on at home against an opponent they were favored by more than three touchdowns against.

It was a halting first step for a USC program still under heavy NCAA sanctions, but it was a spectacular launch to the season for Woods and quarterback Matt Barkley, who looked about as in-sync as a quarterback and receiver can look.

Barkley also broke a school record with 34 completions. He was 34-of-45 for 304 yards. He threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

USC got off to a good start in the first half, jumping to a 19-3 lead, but proved penalty-prone and struggled to pick up first downs in the second half. Minnesota, behind freshman quarterback Max Shortell -- subbing for injured MarQueis Gray -- mounted a surprising charge.

Things could get dicey if USC plays like this next week against Utah. When in doubt, they'll probably just throw it to Woods.