FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –- Five turnovers led to 30 points for sixth-ranked Southern California as the Trojans knocked off Arkansas 50-14 in front of a record crowd of 76,564 at UA’s Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Arkansas is better than last year’s 4-7 club, which was pounded 70-17 at USC last year. Tailback Darren McFadden started despite missing most of fall camp with a toe injury and USC is replacing 11 players selected in the NFL Draft off last year’s club, which played in a third straight national championship game, but the turnovers were too much to overcome.
With USC in control most of the second half, a bright spot for Arkansas was the first action of UA freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain, who directed the Razorbacks to a touchdown on his first collegiate series.
Southern California took an early 10-0 lead, despite gaining only 31 combined yards on the two drives.
After gaining a first down on the game’s opening possession, a Felix Jones fumble was recovered by Trojan linebacker Keith Rivers at the UA 46.
Nine plays and 28 yards later, Mario Danelo kicked a 35-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Neither team did much the rest of the quarter, but on the first possession of the second period, another fumble by Jones was returned 12 yards by cornerback Kevin Thomas to the Razorback three.
Two plays later, C.J. Gable, who ran for 51 yards on 12 carries, got in from three yards out for the 10-0 lead.
On its next possession, Southern Cal moved 29 yards in eight plays with Danelo connecting on a 38-yard field goal for a 13-0 advantage.
Arkansas made it a game on its next possession. Robert Johnson led the Hogs on an 80-yard, 13-play scoring drive. Johnson was seven-of-seven passing for 63 yards, including a 22-yarder to freshman Ben Cleveland to the one. On second-and-goal, Johnson got in around right end to get Arkansas within 13-7.
The Trojans answered, though, moving 45 yards in 2:23 to take a 16-7 lead on a 44-yard field goal by Danelo as the first half ended.
In the second half, Arkansas forced USC to punt on its first possession, but on third-and-three at the UA 24, Marcus Monk had a Johnson pass go through his hands to cornerback Terrell Thomas.
Four plays later, John David Booty hit Patrick Turner for a 14-yard score and a 23-7 USC lead and Arkansas never recovered.
After forcing the Hogs to punt, Booty drove the Trojans 81 yards in 11 plays to extended the lead to 30-7 with a nine-yard scoring pass to Fred Davis.
In the final period, USC drove for a score before another interception led to yet another USC TD. Cary Harris returned a Johnson interception 28 yards to the Arkansas 31, setting up a nine-yard touchdown run by Emmanuel Moody for a 44-7 Trojan lead.
Following that score, Mustain saw his first action and promptly marched the Hogs 80 yards in five plays and 1:39 for a score. He was three-of-three passing for 47 yards on the drive and scored on a four-yard run to make it 44-14.
Mustain, the Gatorade, USA Today and Parade Magazine national player of the year, was also victimized by a turnover. On his second series, he was intercepted, which set up the final score of the night.
Johnson finished 12-of-25 for 110 yards with an interception and the rushing touchdown. Mustain was four-of-six for 47 yards with an interception and a rushing score.
Freshman Damien Williams, a former teammate of Mustain at Springdale, had four receptions for 61 yards while Monk had four for 44.
Jones had seven carries for 48 yards and McFadden nine for 42.
Booty was 24-of-35 for 261 yards and three touchdowns for USC. Davis, Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett all had five receptions. Emmanuel Moody led the Trojans with 58 yards on seven carries.
Download: arkansas,usc game.pdf