BYU knows it can’t expect to win games the way it played last week, especially when its next opponent is the No. 1 team in the country.
The Cougars hope to bounce back from a mistake-filled loss when they host Southern California and longtime assistant Norm Chow on Saturday night.
After beating Notre Dame in its opener, BYU (1-1) had a chance to build some real momentum after scoring the first 10 points last week against Stanford. But turnovers and penalties helped the Cardinal score 37 unanswered points to win 37-10.
BYU committed seven turnovers and was penalized 14 times for 125 yards. Another performance like that gives the Cougars no chance against the Trojans (2-0).
“This week I’m looking for more composure and a little bit more consistency,” BYU coach Gary Crowton said. “Some of the other issues are obvious—penalties and turnovers. Those are things we have addressed with our coaching staff and will address with our players.”
Southern California won’t need any help if it is as dominant as it was in its 49-0 rout of Colorado State on Saturday. LenDale White powered the Trojans’ ground game by rushing for three touchdowns and the defense intercepted four passes.
The Trojans finished with 322 yards on the ground, their most since gaining 331 at Ohio State in 1990. White ran for 123 yards, averaging 8.8 yards on his 14 carries, after USC had struggled somewhat with its running game in its opening victory over Virginia Tech.
“This is what we hoped to do when we came home,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “This game was a great statement for us. We did a lot of things we wanted to do, rushed the ball real well.”
The defending national champions have won 11 in a row and six straight road contests.
BYU gave USC one of its toughest tests during its championship season. The Cougars were within three points in the fourth quarter before a pair of late touchdowns gave the Trojans a 35-18 victory in the only previous meeting between the teams.
The Cougars limited the Trojans to 71 rushing yards while sacking Matt Leinart four times and intercepting three of his passes. Turnovers also hurt BYU in that game, as USC forced five.
“We played well against USC last year, even though we lost,” Crowton said. “Like I said, it’s a very good opportunity for us and our players are excited about that opportunity.”
Chow will try to find ways to make things easier for USC’s offense this time. The Trojans offensive coordinator, who built the offense that helped Carson Palmer win the Heisman Trophy two years ago, is returning to BYU as an opposing coach for the first time. He spent 27 years there as an assistant.
John Beck is expected to lead BYU’s offense Saturday. He returned late in Saturday’s loss after Matt Berry, who started at quarterback, was knocked out of the game after three plays. Beck had started but been knocked out of the Cougars’ opener because of injury and replaced by Berry.