USC 49, Hawaii 36
Lane Kiffin’s debut with the USC Trojans resulted in a win over host Hawaii 49-36, while sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley led the way.
Barkley tossed 257 yards and tied a school record with five passing touchdowns. His favorite receiver of the day became senior Ronald Johnson, who caught seven passes for 59 yards that included three touchdowns, also tying a school record. Johnson also returned an 89-yard punt for a touchdown.
Despite the brilliant production in the air, the Trojans running game set the tone for the entire affair. Junior Marc Tyler rushed for an impressive 154 yards on 17 carries, including a 44-yard run and one touchdown.
“It was a good start for Matt, five touchdown passes and no interceptions,” an unhappy Kiffin tells reporters. “Ronald had four overall touchdowns, which was good to see, and Marc, in his first start, got probably nine or 10 yards a carry.”
Talk about making an offensive splash – the Trojans accomplished that and more, as they could easily have the best offensive trio in the nation after one game played. Allen Bradford pitched in 52 rushing yards, and Sylmar native C.J. Gable contributed 39 of his own. Receivers David Ausberry and Rhett Ellison collected a touchdown each.
Nonetheless, with strengths also came weaknesses. USC displayed an inconsistent defensive performance in all four quarters. The defense allowed 31 total first downs and 588 total yards that included 459 passing.
“Defensively, we didn’t play very well obviously,” states Kiffin, who feels the team could have won the contest in a more fashionable manner, especially because of the team’s lack of discipline. “We ended up winning the game, which was good, but as you can see, we’ve got some depth concerns and issues. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Trojans committed 11 penalties for 100 yards, experienced a turnover and held the time of possession for five fewer minutes than Hawaii.
No. 16 USC (1-0) now returns home to the Los Angeles Coliseum, as they entertain the ACC Virginia Cavaliers Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in their second of four non-conference games this year.
KSU 31, UCLA 22
UCLA held the lead at one point in the first half, but it could not contain a Kansas State comeback en route to the hosts’ 31-22 win over the Bruins. The Wildcats’ rushing attack was key to their success of the day.
Running back Daniel Thomas rushed for 234 yards on 28 carries, including a 44-yard run and two touchdowns. William Powell pounded 72 yards and a touchdown of his own to finalize the one-two punch for KSU.
“They had us on the ropes, and it was a great 1-2 punch … I looked up at the scoreboard walking off the field and I think they had over 300 yards rushing,” Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisel says. “That’s not UCLA football. That’s not how we play, and it can’t be how we play if we expect to have any success this year.”
Early in the first quarter, Thomas ran in a score for KSU, but UCLA’s sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince knotted the score at seven early in the second quarter. The Bruins went on to take the lead, 10-7, on a 44-yard field goal by Kai Forbath, but it was not enough as the Wildcats mounted 24 points thereafter.
Prince threw for only 120 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on 9-of-26 attempts. However, the rushing game was a bigger factor in this contest, as the Wildcats outran the Bruins 313-193.
“It looked like, especially in the second half, they were having their way in the running game,” Neuheisel adds.
Three turnovers plagued the Westwood squad enormously as well, and they factored in negatively. Nonetheless, the receivers hurt Prince and the unit drastically as they dropped multiple passes that could have resulted in game-changing catches.
The punt return team saw light since Josh Smith ran the ball 27.5 yards on two occasions, but Forbath’s kicking seems to be key for the Bruins’ success this season.
After the opening loss, the Bruins return home to face the No. 25 Stanford Cardinal, beginning Pac-10 play at the Rose Bowl Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Barkley Leads USC, Running Backs Shake UCLA
USC 49, Hawaii 36