USC beats Washington State, 27-6
Trojans bounce back from loss to Washington with 27-6 victory over Cougars
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Matt Barkley's bruised right shoulder performed about as well as USC's entire offense.
It was far from perfect, yet good enough to beat 45 ½-point underdog Washington State, which used freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel for the first time.
Barkley threw two long touchdown passes in nine seconds during the first quarter on the way to 247 yards passing, and No. 12 USC rebounded from last weekend's upset loss to Washington with a 27-6 victory Saturday night.
Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson rushed for scores for the Trojans (3-1, 1-1 Pac-10), whose national-title hopes were seriously hurt by a 16-13 loss at Washington. USC's offense still showed many of the problems exposed in Seattle, even with Barkley's return from injury.
The Trojans' formidable defense forced three turnovers in the second half and held the rebuilding Cougars (1-3, 0-2) scoreless until Dwight Tardy's touchdown run with 22 seconds left.
Tuel took over for Marshall Lobbestael in the second quarter and immediately led a 19-play drive for the Cougars, who dropped to 3-14 in coach Paul Wulff's second season. Tuel got all but 5 of his 130 yards passing in the fourth quarter, when he led a 13-play scoring drive.
Tuel, a Fresno high-school product, nearly redshirted this season before the coaching staff became impressed with how quickly he picked up the Cougars' offense. The mobile freshman replaced Lobbestael (2 for 9), who himself took over for Kevin Lopina last week, and immediately led the Cougars on a clock-consuming, 58-yard drive over the final 8:35 of the first half.
But Nico Grasu missed a 34-yard field goal at the halftime whistle, visibly deflating the Cougars.
Barkley, the freshman who led USC's game-winning drive against Ohio State two weeks ago, looked healthy in his third career start after missing last week's loss. He went 13 for 22 with a handful of sharp downfield throws to Damian Williams, who had five catches for 100 yards.
"When I had to gun it, I did," Barkley said. "It hurt, but whatever. It's football."
USC scored three touchdowns in the first 12 minutes, with Barkley throwing a 29-yard TD pass to Brice Butler and a 57-yarder to Williams on consecutive plays. Kicker Jordan Congdon adroitly recovered his own onside kick in between.
But Washington State suffered nothing close to the embarrassment of last season's 69-0 loss to the Trojans. The Cougars defense twice stopped the USC offense on fourth down near the goal line in the second half, preventing a blowout.
"It's good to win, but we've got a lot of work to do," Trojans coach Pete Carroll said. "It was just not the satisfying kind of win that we like to have."
McKnight finished a three-play drive by scoring just 2:36 into the first quarter, in which USC outgained Washington State 195-13.
Early in USC's third drive, Barkley threw a beautiful fade to Butler, his talented fellow freshman. Congdon then pooched his kick and fell on it before the Cougars knew what happened, and Barkley promptly hooked up with Williams over the middle for a rambling score.
Barkley even took a mean hit while releasing the ball, but pointed his hands skyward in excitement while flat on his back.
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When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.