LOS ANGELES (AP)—Southern California’s slow start only delayed the inevitable—a one-sided victory over woeful Washington.
And it was more than just another loss for the Huskies.
Matt Leinart passed for 217 yards and two touchdowns, LenDale White ran for two scores and the top-ranked Trojans handed the Huskies their first shutout since 1981 in a 38-0 victory Saturday.
The outcome ensured Washington’s first losing season in 28 years. The Huskies (1-6, 0-4) are off to their worst start since 1973, when they lost seven of eight to begin the season.
USC coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t know about the Huskies’ 271-game scoring streak until after the shutout was completed.
“I don’t put much stock in it—it’s fun for the record books,” Carroll said. “When you feel that happening, it’s fun to close that out.
“We’re getting it going on defense. We’ve gotten way better in the last few weeks.”
The Trojans were coming off a 45-7 victory over previously unbeaten Arizona State, a team that rolled up 536 yards Saturday in beating UCLA 48-42.
The Huskies had only six first downs and 113 total yards while being blanked for the first time since Nov. 7, 1981 when they lost to UCLA 31-0.
“They kept trying the same plays and they kept getting frustrated,” USC defensive end Frostee Rucker said. “We kind of knew the plays they were going to run.”
Washington’s streak was the longest active among Division I-A schools. Nevada has scored in 287 straight games, but its streak includes 142 as a Division I-AA school.
USC (7-0, 4-0 Pac-10) blew the game open by scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter for a 31-0 lead. Off to their best start since 1988 when they won their first 10 games, the Trojans have won 16 straight, 19 in a row at home and 27 of 28 overall.
The shutout was USC’s fourth in its last 20 games and the Trojans’ sixth since Carroll became their coach in 2001.
“We couldn’t generate a lick of offense,” Washington coach Keith Gilbertson said. “Their defensive speed handled our running game.”
Leinart, who completed 24-of-43 passes with one interception, has thrown at least two TD passes in 18 of his 20 games at USC. He threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Bush in the second quarter and a 29-yarder to Jason Mitchell in the third period.
White gained 93 yards on 17 carries and scored on runs of 3 and 2 yards in the third quarter.
USC had 15 of its 28 first downs and 272 of its 453 total yards after halftime.
“For whatever reason, we were unable to execute properly in the first half,” Leinart said. “Most of it was my fault. I take a lot of the blame.”
Isaiah Stanback, struggled in his first start at Washington, completing 3-of-16 passes for 27 yards. He was relieved by Casey Paus late in the third quarter.
“As a unit, we never got it going,” Stanback said. “We did not execute the option and that was our key play. This was the best defense we’ve played against all year. They were so aggressive, I never even got a chance to check out their secondary.”
Ryan Killeen’s 29-yard field goal early in the second period put USC ahead for good. The score came three plays after Lofa Tatupu scooped up Stanback’s errant pitchout and returned it 12 yards to the Washington 6-yard line.
The Trojans moved 83 yards on eight plays the next time they had the ball, scoring on the Leinart-to-Bush pass.
Kenny James fumbled on the first play of the second half following a hard tackle by Matt Grootegoed, and Rucker recovered at the Washington 18. White scored his first touchdown four plays later.
Mitchell, a senior, got his first career TD to cap a 52-yard, four-play drive, and White scored for the second time with 1:38 left in the third period to finish a 62-yard march.
Freshman Desmond Reed ran 28 yards with 1:57 remaining to complete the scoring. Many in the crowd of 72,855 at the Coliseum were gone by that time.
Killeen’s 49-yard field goal in the opening five minutes fell short. Washington’s Michael Braunstein missed a 46-yarder later in the first period, three plays after C.J. Wallace’s interception and 7-yard return gave the Huskies possession at the USC 33.
The Huskies had only 12 yards of total offense in the first period and didn’t get a first down until James’ 18-yard run with 11 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter.
The Trojans reached the Huskies 41 late in the second period before failing to convert a fourth-and-10 play. Braunstein was wide right on a 47-yard field goal as the first half ended—three plays after Scott White recovered a fumble by LenDale White at the USC 36.
After playing three straight games at home, the Trojans travel to Washington State and Oregon State the next two weeks.