The Tigers do not get past the Trojans 33 and are outgained 315-164 in a 23-0 loss, their first home shutout since 1998.
By Associated Press
Published August 31, 2003
AUBURN, Ala. - Southern California used a smothering defense to turn a much-hyped matchup into an ugly mismatch.
Matt Leinart passed for 192 yards in his first start, and the eighth-ranked Trojans set up 17 points with three turnovers in a 23-0 victory against sixth-ranked Auburn.
The Trojans, who won the final eight games of last season, hardly seemed to miss Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer.
The Tigers hadn't been a preseason Top 10 team since 1995 but were shut out at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time since a 19-0 loss to Virginia in the 1998 opener. They did not get past USC's 33 and were outgained 315-164.
The Trojans muzzled the Tigers' heralded tailbacks, Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, and harassed quarterback Jason Campbell into a fumble and interception.
USC dominated physically on both lines of scrimmage.
The Trojans allowed only four of 13 opponents to rush for 100 yards last season and limited the Tigers to 43 yards on 36 carries.
Leinart, a sophomore who didn't throw a pass as Palmer's backup last season, was 17-of-30 and threw a 5-yard touchdown to former Plant High star Mike Williams.
Williams had eight catches for 104 yards.
Hershel Dennis ran for 85 yards on 21 carries.
His 14-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter sent a few thousand Auburn fans scurrying for the exits.
Daniel Urquhart set up that score by knocking the ball loose from Campbell on the previous play.
Auburn was a popular pick to win the SEC, but USC looked more likely to live up to its preseason billing as the Pac-10 favorite.
USC took a 13-0 lead when Ryan Killeen made a 42-yard field goal to cap the opening drive of the second half.
Leinart hit tight end Dominique Byrd for a 42-yard gain, and Dennis converted fourth and 1 during the drive.
Auburn's troubles started early.
Freshman Darnell Bing picked off Campbell on the third play of the game, giving USC the ball 20 yards from the end zone.
Three plays later, Leinart found Williams in the end zone.
Killeen, who kicked three field goals, added a 28-yarder with 3:21 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers gained just 8 yards on their first three possessions and couldn't get their passing game going.
Campbell was 12-of-26 for 121 yards and often was forced to tuck the ball and run when he wasn't being sacked. He lost 25 yards on 16 carries.