LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Nothing like a rugged "preseason'' to get a
football team ready for conference games.
Southern California (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) opened Pac-10 play Saturday with a
22-0 victory over previously unbeaten Oregon State (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP).
Steven Jackson might be Clinton Portis' replacement in Denver.
The Trojans (3-1, 1-0) were coming off wins against Auburn and
Colorado and a loss to Kansas State. The Beavers (4-1, 0-1) had a
much softer early schedule with games against Eastern Kentucky,
Temple, UNLV and Fresno State.
"It has been a march to get to the conference,'' USC coach Pete
Carroll said. "Not to take anything away from our first three
games, but those were preseason. This is what counts.''
Carson Palmer threw a pair of touchdown passes to Mike Williams,
and the Trojans' aggressive defense shut down an Oregon State
offense that ranked second in the nation.
It was only the second time a Dennis Erickson-coached team was
shut out, with the other a 29-0 Fiesta Bowl loss to Arizona in 1994
when Erickson was at Miami. The NFL's Seattle Seahawks were never
held scoreless during his four seasons as their coach.
"I've never had an offense that was so inefficient as we were
today,'' Erickson said. "Give their defense credit. It was ugly.
"Offensively, I'm puzzled on how we went from where we were (in
the first four games) to what happened today. We were in
second-and-long all game.''
DeShaun Hill had six tackles and Mike Patterson had two of five
sacks to lead the Trojans, who held the Beavers to 131 yards.
The Beavers came into the game averaging 499.8 yards, and Derek
Anderson was No. 2 in passing efficiency. Pressured constantly by
the Trojans, the sophomore quarterback went 8-of-30 for 80 yards
and lost two fumbles.
"We didn't play to have a shootout,'' Carroll said. "We played
to have a big defensive day. It's so much fun when you can fool
their quarterback. We made it hard on them by making them guess all
USC defensive end Omar Nazel said the Trojans were determined
not to let Oregon State get into a groove.
"You can't give them an inch; they'll take a mile,'' said
Nazel, whose six tackles included three for losses. "When you shut
the door, you have to close it, lock it and double-bolt it.''
The defeat was Oregon State's 28th in the last 29 games against
the Trojans -- the Beavers beat them at Corvallis in 2000 -- and the
19th straight loss at the Coliseum dating back to 1960. USC holds
an all-time 55-8-4 edge, including 37-4-3 in Los Angeles.
Palmer went 23-of-41 for 231 yards and threw one interception.
He connected with Williams on a scoring throw of 11 yards just
before halftime and added a 16-yard TD pass in the third quarter.
"Offensively, we didn't play very well, I didn't play very
well,'' Palmer said. "The defense won the game.''
The fifth-year senior still became the school's career leader in
total offense with 8,725 yards, topping Rodney Peete's 8,640.
Ryan Killeen added three field goals for the Trojans, who had
330 yards of offense.
Both USC touchdowns and one of Killeen's field goals followed
Oregon State turnovers.
Patterson recovered an Anderson fumble at the OSU 20 to set up
Killeen's 42-yarder that made it 6-0, and Shaun Cody recovered
another Anderson fumble at the USC 39 before the Trojans drove to
their first touchdown.
A fumbled snap by Oregon State punter Carl Tobey gave USC the
ball at the Beavers' 12 to set up Palmer's second scoring throw.
The Beavers' Ryan Cesca, who missed two field goals in the
fourth quarter of a 16-13 overtime loss to USC last season, was
wide right on a 42-yarder in the first quarter for Oregon State's
only real scoring threat of the game.
On Palmer's first touchdown pass, he pump-faked, pulled out of
the grasp of one defender, then threw to Williams. A week earlier,
Williams had four drops in the Trojans' 27-20 loss to Kansas State.