USC and BYU will meet this Saturday in Provo, Utah. This will be the 3rd all time meeting between the Trojans and Cougars with USC owning a 2-0 record. This will also be the first time since 2004 that the two programs will meet on the field. Before USC takes the field in Provo to face BYU, let’s take a look back at their 2004 meeting at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The date was September 18th, 2004.
Coming into the game USC was the No. 1 team in the nation and held a 2-0 record with victories over Virginia Tech and Colorado State. Led by head coach Pete Carroll, the Trojans were on the road to capturing a BCS national championship. However, part of that road was making their first trip to LaVell Edwards Stadium to face the BYU Cougars.
BYU was a member of the Mountain West Conference and came into the game with a 1-1 record. The Cougars opened the 2004 season with a home victory over Notre Dame before being defeated by Stanford on the road the next week. The previous year BYU was defeated by USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 35-18. The Trojans won a share of the national championship that season.
The game also marked the return of Norm Chow to BYU. The USC offensive coordinator spent 27 years with the Cougars before leaving for North Carolina State in 2000. Chow coached under legendary head coach LaVell Edwards from 1973 to 1999 where he also coached quarterbacks Steve Young, heisman trophy winning quarterback Ty Detmer, and Steve Sarkisian during his tenure.
The Trojans offense got off to a slow start as quarterback Matt Leinart threw an interception on their first drive. USC’s defense managed pick them up towards the end of the first quarter thanks to a Matt Grootegoed interception. The following drive USC kicker Ryan Killeen would miss a 43 yard field goal to put them on the board. The Cougars would score the first points of the game with a Matt Payne 46 yard field goal. From there the Trojans would open the flood gates and quite LaVell Edwards Stadium.
USC went on to score 21 unanswered points in the second quarter. Quarterback Matt Leinart threw a 21 yard pass to running back Reggie Bush and another to freshman wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett for 15 yards. Bush would break off a huge 66 yard run during the scoring barrage. The defense helped matters by forcing two turnovers in the second quarter. One came when safety Darnell Bing picked off BYU quarterback John Beck and another came via fumble that was recovered by Trojans linebacker Lofa Tatupu. By halftime USC led 21-3 and were nowhere close to finished.
BYU managed to trim the Trojans lead as John Beck found Todd Watkins for a 69 yard touchdown pass. It was also the lone score in the third quarter. It would also be the last time the Cougars would score in the game. During the fourth quarter USC went on another 21-0 run. The highlight of the run was a 43 yard touchdown run by running back LenDale White to put USC up 35-10. A 9 yard run by fullback Lee Webb followed by a game ending interception by Terrell Thomas would ice the game and give USC the 42-10 victory in Provo, Utah.
USC quarterback Matt Leinart would go on to finish the game with 236 yards 2 touchdowns, and one interception. He also finished with a rushing touchdown. The duo of LenDale White and Reggie Bush had a combined 234 yards and two touchdowns on the ground (White- 110 yards and 1 touchdown/ Bush- 124 yards and 1 touchdown). BYU wide receiver Todd Watkins led the game in receiving yards with 94 while USC receiver Steve Smith let the game it receptions with 6. The USC defense forced 4 turnovers and limited the Cougars to 221 offensive yards.
USC would go on to finish the season with a 12-0 record that included a 55-19 beating against Oklahoma to win the BCS National Championship. BYU on the other hand would drop a 28-27 heart breaker to No. 21 Bosie State. The Cougars finished the season with a 5-6 record and failing to qualify for a bowl game, despite finishing third in the Mountain West with a 4-3 conference record.