GAMEDAY College Football

Southern Cal 38, Washington State 13

LOS ANGELES - Amon-Ra St. Brown caught four touchdown passes from Kedon Slovis in the first quarter, and unbeaten USC cruised to a 38-13 victory over the Cougars.

Slovis threw five touchdown passes in the first half before finishing with 287 yards as the Trojans (4-0) returned from a prolonged absence caused by a COVID-19 outbreak with a dominant performance on both sides of the ball against the Cougars (1-2), who also hadn't played since Nov. 14.

St. Brown made college football history with touchdowns on every one of his four catches in the opening quarter, including two dazzling grabs made with backward dives on difficult throws by Slovis. Along with tying Robert Woods' USC record for TD catches in a game, the junior receiver tied the FBS record for touchdowns scored in any quarter and joined Duke's Corey Thomas in 1997 as the only players in FBS history with four touchdown catches in a quarter.

With precise execution and big-play excellence against a depleted Washington State secondary curiously playing man-to-man coverage against one of the best receiver groups in the country, the Trojans grabbed a 35-0 lead midway through the second quarter with just 214 yards of offense.

Talanoa Hufanga and Olaijah Griffin had interceptions in the first half for USC, which dominated a game moved back two nights to allow the Trojans to clear enough players from coronavirus protocol to play.

Tyler Vaughns caught the fifth TD pass by Slovis, who tied the school record held by Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Cody Kessler.

Slovis recaptured the accuracy that characterized his impressive freshman year, and the sophomore's throws also had the tight spirals that were missing earlier this season in his shaky start.

Freshman Jayden De Laura passed for 134 yards, threw two interceptions and lost a fumble for the Cougars. They were shaky in the first half after their layoff, although coach Nick Rolovich said he didn't blame it on rust.

Washington State's secondary was missing four of its eight regular rotational players - and it showed, although not much could have been done to stop most of St. Brown's impressive scoring catches.

Slovis hit St. Brown for TD catches of 7 and 22 yards on the Trojans' opening two drives. USC's interceptions - including Hufanga's pick of a deflected pass and an incredible hurdle of a would-be tackler on his 37-yard return to the Cougars 4 - then led to two more short TD catches for St. Brown.

De Laura was inconsistent in his third career game, and he was replaced in the fourth by Gunner Cruz and Cammon Cooper for their Washington State debuts. Cruz threw his first touchdown pass to Renard Bell, who had a career-high 11 catches.


Associated Press

December 6, 2020