3:30 PM ET, October 26, 2002
Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- Even though they were trailing at halftime, Carson Palmer and the rest of the Southern California offense were confident of an easy victory over Oregon.
The Ducks' defensive vulnerability was easy to spot.
Carson Palmer had fun at the Ducks' expense, passing for 448 yards and 5 TDs.
"We knew they couldn't stop us offensively and they didn't stop us offensively,'' Palmer said after the Trojans (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 44-33 victory over Oregon (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP).
"The feeling in the locker room was that we were going to blow it out,'' he said.
Palmer threw for a career-best 448 yards and matched a school record with five touchdown passes.
"I loved every second of it,'' Palmer said. "There's nothing better than playing in this place and beating these guys.''
With an upset loss to Arizona State last Saturday, any aspirations Oregon (6-2, 2-2 Pac-10) had for the Rose Bowl are likely dashed.
The Ducks dropped consecutive games at home for the first time since they lost to Washington State and UCLA in 1997.
However, Southern California (6-2, 4-1) stays in the conference title hunt for a trip to Pasadena. The Trojans snapped a four-game losing streak against Oregon.
Palmer's five touchdown passes tied Rodney Peete's mark in 1987 against Stanford. Palmer completed 31 of 42 attempts with one interception.
Palmer's 448 yards passing broke his own school record. He threw for 411 yards in a loss to the Ducks last season.
Freshman receiver Mike Williams caught 13 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans. It was his fifth straight game with a TD reception.
"You can't give up the big play, the long plays,'' Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "And that was our Achilles' heel today.''
Oregon's Jason Fife, who came in completing 60.9 percent of his passes to rank No. 2 nationally in passing efficiency, went 20-of-45 for 336 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted twice.
Oregon was hurt by its pass defense and offensive problems getting into the end zone. The Ducks had to settle for four field goals.
Last week against Oregon, Arizona State quarterback Andrew Walter threw for 536 yards and four touchdowns.
"We knew coming in that they gave up a lot of passing yards,'' Williams said.
Ducks receiver Keenan Howry and Trojans wideout Kareem Kelly each set a Pac-10 record with at least one reception in 43 straight games.
They broke the previous record of 42 games, set by Arizona's Dennis Northcutt from 1996-99.
Howry punctuated his record-breaking catch in the first quarter with a 54-yard TD reception on the next play, giving Oregon a 10-7 lead. Howry finished with seven catches for 147 yards and two scores.
USC went up 14-10 on Palmer's 35-yard touchdown pass to Williams with 5:08 left in the first.
After Oregon answered with Jared Siegel's 41-yard field goal, Palmer put USC on the Oregon 5-yard line with a 42-yard pass to Keary Colbert.
But Palmer's next pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Oregon linebacker David Moretti and intercepted in the end zone by Rasuli Webster.
Oregon went up 16-14 on the ensuing series with Siegel's 45-yard field goal to open the second quarter. Siegel added a 31-yarder to make it 19-14 at the half.
Oregon had success early by forcing turnovers. Haloti Ngata blocked Ryan Killeen's 22-yard field-goal attempt before the end of the first half.
After the Trojans went up 20-19 to start the second half with Palmer's 31-yard pass to Kelly, Oregon tackle Igor Olshansky blocked Killeen's extra-point attempt.
It didn't matter. Southern California padded the lead with Justin Fargas' 15-yard scoring run and Palmer's 15-yard TD pass to Williams before the close of the third quarter. Palmer hit Malaefou MacKenzie with an 8-yard scoring strike in the fourth.
Killeen added a 48-yard field goal to close out the scoring for the Trojans.
But the Ducks weren't done -- Terrence Whitehead scored on a 1-yard TD dash and Howry added a 31-yard scoring catch on a pass from Fife as the game wound down.
"I really didn't find a rhythm until late in the fourth quarter,'' Fife said. "We should have put up 50 points. But that third quarter just killed us.''