|USC's line too much for Stanford to handle|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 16 November 2008 12:15|
Yet when Stanford seemed poised to possibly deal the Trojans another shocker, it was the unsung offensive line that took over.
``We just needed to come out and dominate,'' guard Jeff Byers said. ``We needed to go and put fear in the opponents eyes and do what we can do.''
That's just what happened in the second half when the Trojans ran for 243 yards and scored the first four touchdowns after halftime in a 45-23 victory over Stanford on Saturday.
On a day when the Trojans felt lucky to go into the half tied with the Cardinal, they were able to keep their hopes alive for another Pac-10 title and a possible berth in the BCS title game.
But No. 6 USC (9-1, 7-1) will need some help to achieve their goals this season. Oregon State (7-3, 6-1) holds the tiebreaker in the conference based on a head-to-head win in September, while USC remained sixth in the BCS standings.
the task for the Trojans is to finish the season as well as they did this game against the Cardinal.
``I don't think we had any doubt tonight we would come out on top,'' quarterback Mark Sanchez said. ``They hit some quick ones early but like coach said you can't win it in the first, second or third quarter. Slow first half, but in the second half we opened it up and really finished on the road.''
Stanford dominated the first half in the rematch of last year's memorable upset by the Cardinal at the L.A. Coliseum. The Cardinal ran for 156 yards in the first two quarters - twice as much as USC had allowed per game coming in - and scored more points than the Trojans had allowed in their previous five games.
USC didn't get its initial first down until early in the second quarter and had just 39 yards on 13 carries, but were tied at 17 at the half because of two long kickoff returns that led to 10 points.
``They were playing lights out in the first half,'' Byers said. ``We had three straight three and outs which is horrendous. They were moving the ball on our defense which is hard as everyone knows. We were lucky to be tied.''
and two TDs for the game), C.J. Gable (85 yards and one rushing TD) and Joe McKnight (72 yards).
Defensively, the Trojans shut down Toby Gerhart and the Stanford running attack, holding the Cardinal to 46 yards on the ground after halftime, with 16 of them coming on a scramble to Alex Loukas in the closing seconds.
``These guys just were not going to let this game stay the same on either side of the ball,'' coach Pete Carroll said. ``Both lines of scrimmage just went crazy. The offensive line blocked so much better, so much more effectively. Guys were hitting the holes and running. We tried to mix it around so much early in the game we couldn't find the running game.''
Getting the running game going was a good feeling for an offense that has struggled to score in the Pac-10. Taking out the two games against the lowly Washington schools, USC had averaged just 25.4 points per game in the conference.
``Midway through the fourth quarter we were just pounding the rock,'' Byers said. ``We were just moving the ball loving it, having a great time and they're getting knocked around. We just kept going, going downhill on them. That's what you have to do to be a great football team.''