Oct 19, 2002
By KEN PETERS AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - In a matchup of prolific quarterbacks, Carson Palmer's passing was too much for Cody Pickett and the Washington Huskies to handle.
Palmer threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns - three to freshman Mike Williams - as No. 19 Southern California beat No. 22 Washington 41-21 Saturday.
"It was a huge day for the passing offense," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "Carson was really sharp and Mike Williams just keeps lighting it up. He's a tremendous player and keeps getting better."
After throwing an interception on the first play of the game, Palmer completed 21 of 34 passes and was not picked off again.
Pickett, who came in as the nation's second-leading passer, went 34-of-61 for 350 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions.
USC built a 34-7 lead in the third quarter and, after Pickett threw for two scores early in the fourth to narrow the deficit to 13 points, the Trojans put the game out of reach on Justin Fargas' 13-yard run with 3:23 left.
The Trojans' defense, led by safety Troy Polamalu (six tackles and an interception), held the Huskies' anemic ground game to minus-5 yards rushing on 19 attempts.
"Our coaches made the right calls and our defense is playing well as a team," said linebacker Matt Grootegoed, who had his first career interception. "People are making plays out there."
USC (5-2, 3-1 Pac-10) beat the Huskies (4-3, 1-2) for only the second time in six meetings dating to 1995.
Washington coach Rick Neuheisel said the Trojans were "a very, very good team," but he obviously was unhappy with the Huskies' performance.
"I was disappointed in the way we played because this game had big implications," he said. "I thought we were ready to play, but we were plagued by the things that have plagued us all year: giving up big plays, and the inability to run the ball."
Palmer, a fifth-year senior, threw scoring strikes of 43, 14 and 11 yards to Williams. The Trojans' quarterback connected with Keary Colbert on a 61-yard scoring play.
"Keary Colbert has been as solid and consistent as a rock," Carroll said.
Williams, a rangy 6-foot-5, 210-pounder starting because Kareem Kelly was slowed by an injury, had nine catches for 159 yards. Colbert had seven receptions for 146 yards.
Reggie Williams had seven receptions for 134 yards for the Huskies, playing only their second road game of the season and first since a 31-29 loss at Michigan in the opener.
Ryan Killeen added field goals of 30 and 33 yards for USC.
Palmer finished the first half with eight completions in 15 attempts for 210 yards, including a pair of touchdowns.
Colbert was a couple of steps beyond the nearest defender when Palmer threw a perfect pass some 55 yards down the field. Colbert took the ball in stride at the 15, and the 61-yard TD put the Trojans up 14-7 four minutes into the second quarter.
Mike Williams gave the Trojans the lead with 2:47 left in the first quarter when he came wide open behind the Washington defense and took Palmer's perfect throw for a 43-yard TD.
Pickett drew the Huskies even before the quarter ended, connecting with Paul Arnold in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown.
With five games remaining, Pickett has already set the Huskies' single-season passing record with 2,601 yards.
Washington tailback Braxton Cleman set another school mark with 15 catches, but he gained just 69 yards on those receptions.