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No. 1 USC dominates Arizona State

Southern Cal defenders block a field-goal attempt by Arizona State kicker Jesse Ainsworth in the first quarter of No. 1 USC's victory Saturday in Los Angeles.
Southern Cal defenders block a field-goal attempt by Arizona State kicker Jesse Ainsworth in the first quarter of No. 1 USC's victory Saturday in Los Angeles.
Kevork Djansezian, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Nobody could call Southern California lucky after this game.

Dominant would be a better description.

A week after getting past California despite being badly beaten statistically, No. 1 USC took command early against Arizona State and routed the 15th-ranked Sun Devils 45-7 Saturday.

ASU (5-1, 2-1 Pac-10) was the third straight unbeaten opponent to challenge USC (6-0, 3-0). Stanford and Cal extended the Trojans, losing by a combined nine points. But the Sun Devils presented no such challenge, trailing 42-7 at halftime.

Matt Leinart easily won his quarterback duel with ASU's Andrew Walter.

In the first half, Leinart completed 11 of 16 passes for 193 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another TD. He finished 13-of-24 for 224 yards with no interceptions and was sacked once, before sitting out the fourth quarter.

Highly regarded freshman Dwayne Jarrett, filling in for the injured Steve Smith, made four receptions for 121 yards and three TDs in the first half and five catches for 139 yards overall. LenDale White gained 68 yards on 16 carries to lead USC's ground game.

Walter, who came in having thrown 15 touchdown passes and one interception, completed 19 of 34 passes for 181 yards and no TDs with two interceptions, one leading to a touchdown.

Walter was sacked six times — two fewer than ASU allowed in its first five games. The Trojans added two more sacks after Walter left the game early in the final period.

USC gained just 205 yards while allowing 424 in its 23-17 victory last week over Cal. The Trojans picked up 307 yards in the first half against ASU, whose first five opponents averaged 304 yards and 12.8 points.

The victory was the 15th straight for the Trojans and their 18th in a row at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where a sellout crowd of 90,211 cheered them on.

USC has won 26 of its past 27 games — few more decisively than this one, which came over a team that was off to its best start since 1996.

The Sun Devils committed two false start penalties following the opening kickoff, pushing them back to their 4-yard line. Following a punt, USC had to move only 45 yards for a 7-0 lead, scoring on Leinart's 10-yard pass to Reggie Bush.

The Trojans got good field position again on their third possession, taking over at the 50-yard line after a punt. They needed seven plays to score, with Leinart's 9-yard pass to White putting them ahead 14-0.

Walter threw into triple coverage early in the second quarter, and the result was disastrous — Matt Grootegoed's interception and 41-yard return put USC in position for Leinart's 19-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett on the next play.

Bush fumbled a punt early in the second quarter and Ishmael Thrower recovered. The Sun Devils took advantage of the break, moving 33 yards to score on a 2-yard run by Hakim Hill.

But the Trojans blew the game open by scoring three TDs in the last 5:08 of the second quarter. Leinart's 1-yard sneak capped an 86-yard drive; Bush threw a 52-yard pass to Jarrett, and Leinart threw a 34-yarder to Jarrett one play after Bush's 41-yard punt return.

And that was that.

The only score of the second half was a 34-yard field goal by USC's Ryan Killeen with 9:07 remaining.

USC's Shaun Cody blocked the fifth field goal of his career in the opening period, deflecting a 46-yard attempt by Jesse Ainsworth with the Trojans leading 7-0.

The crowd was the largest to see a USC home game that didn't involve UCLA or Notre Dame since 1952.

The Trojans played before consecutive sellout crowds for the just the second time ever — the first was in 1947, when the UCLA and Notre Dame games were sold out. A crowd of 90,008 attended the Cal-USC game last weekend.