for this game

Booty's five TDs carry USC past Arizona State

Nov 23, 2007 - 6:50 AM TEMPE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Arizona State left the door open and Southern California walked right in.

John David Booty threw for four touchdowns and ran in another as the 11th-ranked Trojans posted a convincing 44-24 victory over the No. 7 Sun Devils on Thursday night.

Booty completed 26-of-39 passes for 375 yards to help USC (9-2, 6-2 Pac-10) remain alive for an unprecedented sixth straight conference crown under coach Pete Carroll.

"We wanted to have a balanced attack like we usually do but the passing game kind of opened itself up for us," Booty said. "Don't get me wrong, I love having a game like this, but what is really important is we got a big win on the road in a real meaningful game that we had to get."

Southern California needs to defeat hated-rival UCLA next week and have Oregon stumbled in one of its final two games to secure a trip to the Rose Bowl.

"This was a really, really sweet win. We have been looking forward to when we have everything together and everything going in the right direction," Carroll said. "The guys now know what they can do. I have been ringing the bell in the locker room for a while now that it ain't over yet.

"We are in the playoff run and our guys have sensed it for a couple of weeks. This is what we shoot for to get to the Rose Bowl, we have shot to be a champion again and will be very proud if we can accomplish that."

Arizona State entered with a chance of clinching at least a share of the Pac-10 Conference title, but Booty and USC's offense had other things in mind.

"We didn't play good and it is sad," Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson said. "We should be disappointed but our players will bounce back. It won't be hard for us, but it hurts right now. We didn't play as good like I thought we would in a game like this."

Kicker David Buehler's 20-yard field goal broke a 17-17 tie and Booty extended the lead with his one-yard scamper up the middle as the Trojans grabbed a 27-17 edge at intermission.

The senior signal-caller helped Southern Cal find the end zone twice in the third with TD passes to Joe McKnight and Fred Davis to make it 44-17 after three quarters.

The Trojans had almost no fighting chance of even competing for another Pac-10 crown after disappointing losses to Stanford and Oregon.

"People have counted us out all year especially after the loss to Stanford," Booty said. "We just had so many injuries and we had every team to shooting for us. We had a bullseye on our back, but we know what we are all about."

USC's defense was also stellar in this one, collecting six sacks against quarterback Rudy Carpenter and held Arizona State's ground attack to just 15 yards.

"We have a lot of games where teams run quick outs and pitch and catch and it is hard to be that defense that everyone envisioned," said USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson, who had four sacks. "Arizona State and Oregon State are NFL offenses, they drop back and that allows us to show the true nature of the athletes we have on defense. In games like this, you take the reward because of the offense they run."

Carpenter finished 21-of-30 for 241 yards and one score for the Sun Devils (9-2, 6-2).

"The most disappointing thing for us is that a lot of these guys, our whole dream is to play in the Rose Bowl," Carpenter said. "We had that chance, and to lose it at home, it is frustrating all around."

Arizona State's Rudy Burgess returned kickoff for 98 yards in the first quarter, tying the game at 7-7.