Nov 17, 2001
By KEN PETERS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - The Southern California Trojans concluded a month-long resurgence with a victory over UCLA, while the Bruins continued their downward spiral.
Carson Palmer threw for 180 yards and a touchdown, and the Trojans' defense smothered No. 20 UCLA in a 27-0 victory Saturday.
Defeating their crosstown rivals for the third consecutive year, the Trojans (6-5, 5-3 Pac-10) assured themselves a bowl berth as they bounced back from a 1-4 start under first-year coach Pete Carroll.
"To start 1-4 and to finish well is big," Palmer said. "To beat UCLA, who had been talking about the Rose Bowl (the national title game), is huge. We can end up 7-5, where no one thought we could be."
Carroll, former coach of the NFL's New York Jets and New England Patriots, was delighted with his team's second-half surge and victory over UCLA. After the game, he stood on the band director's stand in front of the Trojans' student section, smiling and waving.
"It went through my mind is that this doesn't happen in the NFL. It had nothing to do with UCLA, it had to do with us," the elated Carroll said. "We've got to be the best 6-5 team in the nation."
The Bruins, beset by off-the-field distractions swirling around tailback DeShaun Foster and quarterback Cory Paus, lost their fourth straight after a 6-0 start. The Bruins (6-4, 3-4) were No. 4 nationally less than a month ago.
"This is a trying time for the players and coaches," UCLA coach Bob Toledo said.
Southern Cal's fourth consecutive victory locked up fifth place in the Pac-10, with the Trojans likely playing in the Las Vegas Bowl. UCLA, which has a regular-season game remaining against Arizona State on Dec. 1, will be eligible for a bid from an independent bowl.
The Trojans limited UCLA to 114 yards of offense, while their offense had 276 yards.
"Defense won this game," Palmer said. "I'm not surprised we shut them down. You could tell up front that they (the Bruins) weren't very hungry."
Toledo said, "We were totally inept."
USC cornerback Antuan Simmons returned an interception off Paus for one touchdown. Safety Troy Polamalu blocked a punt to set up a field goal and intercepted another of Paus' throws to put the Trojans in position for a touchdown.
Palmer went 14-of-23, including a 4-yard scoring pass to Keary Colbert, with one interception for the Trojans, who scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and were up 17-0 by halftime.
Paus was 7-of-15 for 45 yards, with two interceptions, and was sacked five times during his three quarters in the game.
The Bruins mounted just one serious scoring threat the entire contest, in the fourth quarter. But the Trojans' Kevin Arbert snuffed that by intercepting Scott McEwan's pass at the USC 2.
David Davis kicked a pair of 20-yard field goals and Chris Howard scored on a 34-yard run for the Trojans' other points.
The Bruins played their second game without Foster, a senior declared ineligible for the rest of the season for receiving an extra benefit, a violation of NCAA rules. The Pac-10's top rusher and a leading Heisman Trophy candidate earlier this season, Foster initially was declared ineligible Nov. 7. The NCAA ruled Friday that Foster could not play any more for the Bruins.
He was punished for driving a new sport-utility vehicle - leased by actor-director Eric Laneuville - for several weeks.
Paus was allowed to start against the Trojans despite a revelation Thursday that he had pleaded no contest to a drunken driving charge stemming from his arrest this summer. The fourth-year junior is scheduled to serve four days in jail after this season. Toledo said he was unaware of the case until Thursday.
It was Paus' second alcohol-related arrest, he was also arrested March 5 of last year for investigation of driving under the influence and later was convicted of a lesser charge of reckless driving.
Paus, who said he hadn't told his coach about his arrest because he thought it "would be a detriment to the team and I thought we were in a good position to go a long ways this year."
"I put myself in the situation, it is all my fault," the fourth-year junior said, adding that he didn't think his troubles had an impact on the team.
Toledo said, "I felt OK about my decision to play Cory, and I felt our team was ready to play in spite of what happened. But we just didn't get the plays we needed at the right time."