Hawaii trounced by No. 1 USC 49-10 in Chow's debut
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Norm Chow waited 40 years to become a head coach at Hawaii. He'll have to wait at least two more weeks for his Warriors to get a bit more winnable game.
Marqise Lee caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Matt Barkley on No. 1 Southern California's first play, and the Trojans rolled to a 49-10 victory over Hawaii on Saturday night.
Duke transfer Sean Schroeder passed for 208 yards and a score as one of 13 first-time starters for Hawaii (0-1), which realized it had a rough assignment for Chow's debut.
The former USC offensive coordinator installed a pro-style offense after 14 years of run-and-shoot football on the islands under coaches June Jones and Greg McMackin, and that scheme showed promise at times. But Chow's defense simply couldn't keep up in the opener of Hawaii's first season since moving to the Mountain West after 33 years in the WAC.
"We thought we would give them a better battle," Chow said. "We made too many mistakes, but we didn't quit, and USC knew they were in a game."
Barkley kicked off his Heisman Trophy campaign with 372 yards passing and four touchdowns for the Trojans (1-0), whose offensive stars were every bit as impressive as expected. Lee had 10 catches for 197 yards and returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score, and Robert Woods caught six passes for 42 yards and two TDs
Hawaii's rebuilt defense struggled to keep up with two of the nation's best receivers, but Chow isn't about to panic after one game against a No. 1 team. Hawaii dropped to 0-3 in school history against top-ranked opponents.
"We started one senior, a bunch of kids who have never played before, in front of 93,000 people," Chow said. "We were all kind of shaky, but we'll shore a few things up."
Silas Redd rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown on a team-leading nine carries in the Penn State transfer's debut at USC, which led 35-0 at halftime and coasted to its 15th consecutive season-opening victory.
Schroeder hit Scott Harding with an 18-yard TD pass on the first series after halftime — but Lee replied with his TD kickoff return. Harding also punted for Hawaii while Alex Dunnachie is suspended, saying it took him back to his days playing Australian rules football.
"They're a great team, but the taste is still a little bitter," Schroeder said. "We have a lot to learn, and hopefully we can study what happened today and build on it."
Hayes Pullard returned an interception 27 yards for a first-quarter score for USC, which outgained Hawaii 481-264.
After going 10-2 and finishing with at No. 6 in the final poll last season, the Trojans looked sharp while playing with their first No. 1 ranking since 2008. USC has never lost in eight meetings with Hawaii in a series dating to 1930 that includes the 1936 Poi Bowl.
USC was on target from the first snap of Barkley's senior year. After a game-opening touchback, Barkley found Lee with a 5-yard cross-field pass — and Lee reversed direction and sprinted down the USC sideline for a score.
Woods then capped a 99-yard drive with a 20-yard TD catch on a perfectly thrown ball from Barkley. Redd got his first carry for the Trojans during that drive, and he made a long reception on the next drive — but fumbled during the ensuing run.
Nickell Robey then tipped a pass late in the first quarter, and Pullard returned it for a score.
Redd made his most impressive run in his debut game on fourth and 2 early in the second quarter, sprinting 31 yards through the heart of Hawaii's defense for a score. Woods tacked on his second TD catch after a long punt return by Robey moments later.
USC led 35-0 on Andre Heidari's field goal at the halftime gun. Lee had eight catches for 176 yards in the first half despite two significant drops.
After Hawaii's only TD, Lee promptly became just the second USC player to return a kickoff at least 100 yards, sprinting down the Hawaii sideline for the sophomore's second career score on a kickoff return.
Barkley played into the fourth quarter before giving way to Max Wittek, who won the backup job during camp.
Schroeder, from Laguna Niguel, Calif., graduated from Duke in three years without playing for the Blue Devils. He made several tough throws under pressure from USC's rebuilt defensive line, but couldn't keep Hawaii moving consistently until the Trojans were insurmountably ahead.
During the game at the sold-out Coliseum, the Trojans paid tribute to former linebacker Junior Seau, who killed himself in May. Seau's parents and children gathered on the field for an emotional ceremony between quarters.