Scores

Final

(10) USC 49

(7-2, 5-1 Pac-12)

Stanford 17

(2-7, 1-5 Pac-12)

Coverage: ABC

7:00 PM ET, November 9, 2002

Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA

1 2 3 4 T
#10USC 14 7 14 1449
STAN 7 3 0 717

Trojans maintain slim conference title hopes

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- It looked like Carson Palmer had another brilliant day.

He sure didn't think so.

Alex Holmes

Southern California tight end Alex Holmes scores a 22-yard touchdown Saturday.

Palmer threw four touchdown passes to break a school career record and lead Southern California (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) to a 49-17 victory over struggling Stanford on Saturday. The senior quarterback wasn't satisfied, though, because he wanted to score even more.

"I'm mad, I'm frustrated, and I'm angry. The whole offense is,'' Palmer said. "We should have scored every time we had the ball.''

The Trojans scored on seven of their 12 possessions when he was in the game.

Still, the win keeps USC's slim conference championship hopes alive and has the Trojans in great position heading into the stretch run. One more victory by first-place Washington State or one loss by USC (7-2 overall, 5-1 Pac-10) would eliminate the Trojans from winning the conference.

Palmer threw two scoring passes to Keary Colbert, one to Mike Williams and another to Alex Holmes to give Palmer 61 career TD passes, breaking the mark of 58 set by Rob Johnson. Palmer has thrown 13 TD passes in his last three games.

He may not be impressed with himself, but everybody else is.

"This is really something to watch,'' USC coach Pete Carroll said of his quarterback. "He's really bringing it together and capitalizing on his past experiences. He's in control of the game, and it's not difficult for him right now.''

Palmer picked apart the Pac-10's second-worst defense, completing 22 of 32 passes for 317 yards, with eight of his completions to Williams for 94 yards. Williams broke the Pac-10 freshman record for receptions in a season with 58, eclipsing the mark of 55 set by Washington's Reggie Williams last year.

USC had lost three straight to Stanford (2-7, 1-5) by a combined 11 points, but the Trojans were determined to keep their surge going following the team's bye week. In October, USC beat California and Washington at home, then won at Oregon. The Trojans' only loss was by three points in overtime at Washington State.

"I really like this kind of effort for us,'' Carroll said. "It means our guys understand our philosophy.''

The Cardinal have been outscored 118-49 in losing their last three games.

Redshirt freshman Kyle Matter started at quarterback for Stanford for the third straight week in place of regular Chris Lewis, who has a bruised shoulder.

Matter completed all 14 of his passes in the first half, but his team managed just 10 points despite controlling the ball for nearly 21 minutes.

Matter completed his first pass of the third quarter before throwing an interception midway through the period. His short pass was deflected and caught by defensive end Kenechi Udeze. Two plays later, Palmer connected with Holmes for a 22-yard score that gave the Trojans a 35-10 lead.

Matter finished 23-for-35 for 165 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.

The Cardinal put pressure on Palmer on USC's first offensive series and forced the Trojans to punt, but then the problems started for Stanford.

Tom Malone's punt hit the foot of Stanford's T.J. Rushing, and USC's Justin Wyatt recovered at the 17. Palmer hit Colbert on the next play for the game's first score. Colbert later had a 13-yard scoring catch.

After Stanford tied it on Matter's 6-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Wells in the first quarter, USC took advantage of two Cardinal penalties to regain the lead. Leigh Torrance's pass interference on third down prolonged the Trojans' drive, and Stanford was flagged for having too many players on the field.

Palmer got USC in scoring position with a 27-yard pass to Holmes before hitting Williams for an 8-yard score.

Justin Fargas added a 7-yard TD run midway through the second quarter to make it 21-10.

Stanford again hurt itself, exactly what first-year coach Buddy Teevens was hoping to avoid.

After an impressive kickoff return by Wells to the 46-yard line to start the game, the Cardinal were penalized for holding. So Stanford began its drive at its own 12 instead and was forced to punt.

"We're making progress on both sides of the ball,'' Teevens said. "I feel for the players because they don't have the wins to go with the work they've put in. No question they're tired of this. The frustration level is high, but I don't see them backing off at all. I don't see any give up.''

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