Los Angeles Southern California turned the most anticipated September game in years into a mismatch.
Mark Sanchez threw four touchdown passes, Joe McKnight rushed for 105 yards on 12 carries, and the top-ranked Trojans crushed No. 5 Ohio State, 35-3, Saturday night in a matchup of two of college football's most successful programs.
Ohio State played without star tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells, sidelined with an injured right foot. But moving the ball wasn't the Buckeyes' biggest problem before the Trojans made it a rout. Instead, they were done in by a handful of crucial mistakes.
A holding penalty nullified a touchdown in the second quarter, and an errant throw by Todd Boeckman was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Rey Maualuga.
By the time it was done the only question left was: Can anybody left on USC's schedule beat these Trojans (2-0) and keep them from playing for another national championship?
Ohio State (2-1), a decisive loser in the last two national championship games, will have an awfully difficult time making it back for a third, even if the Buckeyes win the Big Ten.
Ohio State had the ball for more than 20 minutes in the first half and gained 177 yards to USC's 172, but left the field trailing 21-3. Sanchez threw two touchdown passes to Damian Williams in the third quarter to put the Buckeyes away.
Once they fell behind, the Buckeyes were helpless against Maualuga and the swarming Trojans. Ohio State gained only 35 yards in the second half.
At one point late in the third quarter, the right-handed Boeckman tried a desperation left-handed pass as he was being tackled. The result was an intentional grounding penalty. Everson Griffen sacked Boeckman on the next play.
The Trojans won for the 39th time in their last 40 home games before a partisan crowd of 93,607 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. In the first game between the storied programs since 1990, USC won its sixth straight over Ohio State and eighth straight against the Big Ten.
Sanchez finished 17-for-28 for 172 yards with one interception before being relieved by freshman Aaron Corp midway through the fourth quarter.