USC punter Kyle Negrete's 35-yard run on a fake punt sparked the Trojans' 40-17 win over Washington.
It took three tries, but Curtis McNeal ran for 148 yards and Marqise Lee returned a kickoff for a touchdown as the USC Trojans finally bested former coach Steve Sarkisian and Washington Huskies, 40-17.
The game was off to a slow start until punter Kyle Negrete ran for 35 yards on a fake punt that sparked the USC offense. Negrete’s run in the second quarter set up a one-yard Marc Tyler touchdown that extended the Trojans’ lead to 14-3.
A few plays later, with the Huskies backed up in front of their own end zone, Washington center Drew Schaefer snapped the ball high to quarterback Keith Price, who wasn’t able to secure the ball. USC’s Nick Perry recovered for the safety – the Trojans’ first in five years – to put the Trojans up, 16-3.
Two more McNeal runs, of 12 and 19 yards, again put the Trojans in the red zone, setting up a nine-yard touchdown pass to Lee that put the Trojans up, 23-3, at halftime.
The Trojans didn’t miss a beat after the half, as Lee returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a USC touchdown.
Washington, not to be outdone, marched down the field for a touchdown on the next series. Kevin Smith returned the kick-off 41 yards, and two plays later, Smith caught a pass from Price and ran 53 yards to the one-yard line, where Chris Polk punched it in to make it a 30-10 game.
The Huskies’ seven points weren’t enough to put a damper on the Trojans’ offensive attack though, as McNeal exploded for a 79-yard touchdown run, widening the lead again, 37-10.
McNeal had a career day, with 18 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown, but Washington’s star back, Chris Polk, was mainly ineffective, gaining 36 yards on nine carries, and being held under 100 yards for just the third time this year.
Polk wasn’t the only star who had a low-key performance in the game. USC’s dynamic receiver Robert Woods had just two catches for 5 yards, and one carry for 4 yards.
Matt Barkley was 18 of 28 for 174 yards and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing).
Washington quarterback Keith Price left the game with an injury shortly after the Trojans got a safety. He was 12 of 16 for 125 yards. Nick Montana was 9 of 15 for 73 yards in relief, with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kasen Williams with :19 left.
Washington’s quarterbacks were under constant pressure from the USC defense, which recorded seven sacks, three by ferocious defensive end Nick Perry. USC’s Tony Burnett and Augusto Alonso each had interceptions go in and out of their hands on the game’s final drive, which ended with a Washington touchdown.
USC gained 426 yards of offense in the game but the Huskies, who’d been averaging more than 400 yards per game, were held to just 244 total yards of offense, and only 46 yards rushing.
The decisive win gives the Trojans an 8-2 record heading into a touch matchup against the Oregon Ducks next weekend.