Lincoln - Cody Glenn scored on a pair of one-yard touchdown plunges and Todd Peterson hauled in a pair of touchdown passes, but No. 1 USC reeled off 35 straight points in the second and third quarters to claim a 49-31 victory over No. 14 Nebraska at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
Playing in front of an NCAA record 284th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium and an ABC prime-time national television audience, Nebraska fed off the energy of a revved up crowd of 84,959 to take a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter after Glenn's first quarter scoring plunge tied the score, and Henery put NU up 10-7 on a 37-yard field goal with 9:04 left in the first half.
After Nebraska took the lead, USC benefitted from a fortuitous bounce, when Rickey Thenarse stripped USC return man Vincent Joseph of the football in front of the USC sideline and the ball flew more than 10 yards toward the middle of the field. Trojan Malcolm Smith scooped up the ball and raced 31 yards down the Nebraska sideline before being upended at the NU 45.
Joseph, who was injured on the play, was carried off the field and taken by ambulance to a local hospital with a bruised larnyx. After the extended delay, USC appeared to use the time to regroup and attack the Huskers on both sides of the ball with greater energy.
The Trojans wasted little time in regaining the lead, pounding the ball on five straight rushing plays covering 45 yards capped by Stanley Havili's two-yard touchdown run with 6:50 remaining in the half.
The Trojan defense then held the Huskers on three plays for the first time, and the USC offense took over. The Trojans marched 73 yards on nine plays capped by Stafon Johnson's seven-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left to put USC up 21-10 at the half. Johnson closed the night with a career-high 144 yards on 11 carries.
Nebraska's offense took over and appeared to be stopped after three plays again, but Dan Titchener was roughed on his punt attempt to give NU new life with 40 seconds left in the half. On the first play after the penalty, Keller threw a pass deep down the Nebraska sideline intended for Frantz Hardy who was interfered with on the play to move the Huskers another 15 yards.
After Keller's next attempt was batted down at the line of scrimmage, he hit Marlon Lucky with a short pass across the middle with two seconds left. Lucky then flipped the ball to a streaking Terrence Nunn who juked his way for 15 yards to the USC 35 before finally being brought down to end the half.
Nebraska piled up 198 yards of total offense in the first half, thanks in large part to Keller completing 16-of-24 passes for 172 yards. The Huskers managed just 26 rushing yards on 19 carries, but dominated the time of possession in the first half, controlling the pigskin for 18:50. Keller finished the night with the fourth-highest passing total in school history with 389 yards on 36 completions and 54 attempts. Keller's total was also the highest ever by a Nebraska quarterback against a ranked foe.
With plenty of attention on USC's high-powered passing game, the Trojans managed just 43 yards on 7-of-13 passing in the first half. But USC ran to the first-half lead by sprinting 205 yards on just 16 carries on the ground. USC backs Johnson, (79), Gable (69) and Havili (52) all rolled up more than 50 yards on the ground in the first half alone.
The Trojans finished the night with 313 yards on 38 carries for 8.2 yards per carry, the highest per carry rushing average by an NU opponent in school history. USC added 144 yards on 19-of-30 passing to finish with 457 yards of total offense. The Huskers closed the night with 420 yards of total offense on 82 attempts, running 14 more plays than the Trojans.
After putting up the last 14 points of the first, the Trojan defense kept the momentum early in the second half, forcing a tipped pass that resulted in an interception on NU's opening drive to start USC at the Husker 33. Five plays later, John David Booty hit Anthony McCoy on a two-yard touchdown pass to put the Trojans up 28-10 with 11:29 remaining in the third.
USC's defense put the game out of reach two plays later, when defensive end Kyle Moore picked off a Keller quick-hitter and returned it to the NU 1. Three plays later, Chauncey Washington dove over the pile from one yard out to push USC's lead to 35-10 with 9:14 left in the quarter. Washington added another one-yard scoring run just over four minutes later to cap an eight-play scoring drive and put USC up 42-10 with 5:03 left in the third.
Although the two teams battled to a 7-7 tie after one quarter, Nebraska dominated the time of possession in the opening stanza, controlling the football for 11:12. But USC struck first thanks to some long running plays after the Trojans started their opening drive at the 4.
Havili took a handoff 50 yards on the Trojans' first play from scrimmage. On the second play, C.J. Gable scampered 40 yards to put USC on the Huskers' doorstep. Two plays later, Booty connected with Havili on a five-yard scoring pass to give USC a 7-0 lead with 10:49 left in the opening period.
After a long NU drive stalled just out of field goal range, the Huskers again buried the Trojans at their own 4. This time, the Blackshirts stuffed USC for a three-and-out and took over near midfield. Nebraska marched again and found paydirt on Glenn's one-yard scoring plunge to tie the score, 7-7, with 1:03 left in the first quarter.
The Huskers maintained control of the football and the momentum with their first drive of the second quarter, marching 56 yards on 10 plays capped by Alex Henery's 37-yard field goal to give NU its first lead at 10-7 with 9:04 left in the half.
NU did not find the end zone again until Glenn's one-yard dive with 12:09 left in the game. Following USC's fifth rushing touchdown of the night midway through the fourth quarter, Keller hit Todd Peterson on a 20-yard scoring strike with 4:32 left. Keller than connected with Sean Hill on a two-point conversion to pull NU within 49-25.
Keller added a second scoring strike to Peterson from 18 yards out with 51 seconds left to produce the final margin.
The Huskers continue their home stand next week when they play host to Ball State on Saturday, Sept. 22. NU's first-ever meeting with the Cardinals will be televised live at 11:30 a.m. from Memorial Stadium with an FSN pay-per-view telecast available to fans. For complete pay-per-view information, check the link at the top of this pay page.
Scoring (USC 49, NU 31)
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
First Quarter (Nebraska 7, USC 7)
USC - Stanley Havili 5 pass from John David Booty (David Buehler kick), 10:49, USC 7-0
NU - Cody Glenn 1 run (Alex Henery kick), 1:03, 7-7
Second Quarter (USC 21, NU 10)
NU - Alex Henery 37 field goal, 9:04, NU 10-7
USC - Havili 2 run (Buehler kick), 6:50, USC 14-10
USC - Stafon Johnson 7 run (Buehler kick), 3:52, USC 21-10
Third Quarter (USC 42, NU 10)
USC - Anthony McCoy 2 pass from Booty (Buehler kick), 11:29, USC 28-10
USC - Chauncey Washington 1 run (Buehler kick), 9:14, USC 35-10
USC - Chauncey Washington 1 run (Buehler kick), 5:03, USC 42-10
Fourth Quarter (USC 49, NU 31)
NU - Glenn 1 run (Henery kick), 12:09, USC 42-17
USC - Allen Bradford 6 run (Buehler kick), 6:45, USC 49-17
NU - Todd Peterson 20 pass from Sam Keller (Keller to Sean Hill 2PAT pass), 4:32, USC 49-25
NU - Todd Peterson 18 pass from Keller (Keller 2PAT pass failed), 0:51, USC 49-31
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