Southern Cal’s first visit to the Cotton Bowl produced a Texas-sized victory for the Trojans.
In the Cotton Bowl’s second-largest rout, No. 21 Southern Cal rolled up a 48-0 lead Monday and went on to a 55-14 victory over Texas Tech. It could have been worse.
“I commend USC; a class man is coaching that team. The score could have been a lot worse,” Tech coach Spike Dykes said, referring to USC coach John Robinson. “I apologize to our fans. It’s not much fun to get your tail kicked like that.”
Texas Tech (6-6) qualified for the game by finishing in a five-way tie for the Southwest Conference title. The Red Raiders were picked because they had gone the longest without a Cotton Bowl appearance.
It was the seventh straight Cotton Bowl loss for the SWC champ and possibly the last for a while. Starting next year, matchups will be determined by the bowl coalition.
“We moved the ball well early and jumped on Tech,” Robinson said. “If we played them next week it might be a closer game. We were very sharp. We have so many offensive weapons that weird stuff can happen if we’re playing well.”
Southern Cal’s total offense (578 yards) and passing yards (435) were Cotton Bowl records.
Rob Johnson threw three touchdown passes and Keyshawn Johnson had three TD catches, including an 86-yarder from backup Brad Otton. Rob Johnson completed 16 of 21 passes for 289 yards and left after the first series of the second half - 3 yards short of the Cotton Bowl record.
“It was a lot easier than I thought it would be after seeing them on film,” Rob Johnson said. “We confused ‘em and we manhandled ‘em. I was surprised.”
Keyshawn Johnson caught eight passes for a Cotton Bowl-record 222 yards and was named offensive MVP. Cotton Speyer of Texas held the record of 161 yards set in 1969.
Tech players were dazed after the game.
“I think (Rob) Johnson is a very good quarterback,” said Tech defensive lineman Damon Wickware. “In fact, I went up to him during the game and told him he was going a very good job.”
Southern Cal (8-3-1) upped its bowl record to 24-13. The Red Raiders, returning to the Cotton Bowl for the first time in 55 years, gave up four first-quarter touchdowns, two of them on Rob Johnson passes in a 4:30 span.
The widest margin of victory in the Cotton was Miami’s 46-3 win over Texas in 1991. In Texas Tech’s only other appearance, the Red Raiders lost to St. Mary’s of California 20-13 in 1939.
The Trojans drove 64 yards in four plays to score on an 11-yard run by Shawn Walters. Twelve seconds later, they scored again. Linebacker Gerald Caruthers recovered Stacy Mitchell’s fumble on the kickoff at the Tech 19. Rob Johnson found Terry Barnum with a TD pass on the next play.
“Coach Robinson told us if we got after them hard they would fold, but I was shocked how fast it happened,” Walters said.
Southern Cal cornerback John Herpin then returned a Zebbie Lethridge pass 26 yards for a TD to make it 21-0. Herpin was named the defensive MVP.
After Tech punted, Walters ran 11 and 30 yards and Rob Johnson found a wide-open Keyshawn Johnson on a 12-yard scoring pass. The 28 points for the quarter was a Cotton Bowl record, topping the 24 Penn State scored against Baylor in the fourth quarter of the 1975 game.
Southern Cal 55, Texas Tech 14
Southern Cal 28 6 14 7 - 55 Texas Tech 0 0 7 7 - 14
USCWalters 11 run (Ford kick) USCBarnum 19 pass from R.Johnson (Ford kick) USCHerpin 26 interception return (Ford kick) USCK.Johnson 12 pass from R.Johnson (Ford kick)
USCFG Ford 39 USCFG Ford 42 USCK.Johnson 22 pass from R.Johnson (Ford kick) USCK.Johnson 86 pass from Otton (Ford kick)
Tech-Lethridge 5 run (Davis kick) USCDiltz 2 pass from Otton (Ford kick)
Tech-Mitchell 45 pass from Cavazos (Davis kick)
USC Tech First downs 21 14 Rushes-yards 45-143 26-55 Passing 435 205 Return Yards 63 4 Comp-Att-Int 24-35-0 15-37-2 Punts 4-43 10-38 Fumbles-Lost 1-1 4-2 Penalties-Yards 12-133 2-20 Time of Possession 40:02 19:58
RUSHINGUSC, Walters 14-82, Sermons 12-32, Green 6-25, Washington 6-17, Holguin 2-4, Hopper 1-1, Koffler 1-0, R.Johnson 3-(minus 18). Texas Tech, Hanspard 9-36, Crain 2-22, Cavazos 1-3, Lethridge 13-(minus 3), Walker 1-(minus 3).
PASSINGUSC, R.Johnson 16-21-0-289, Otton 8-14-0-146. Texas Tech, Lethridge 12-29-2-134, Darden 0-3-0-0, Cavazos 3-5-0-71.
RECEIVINGUSC, K.Johnson 8-222, Hervey 3-99, Washington 3-0, Diltz 2-13, Parker 1-31, Barnum 1-19, Green 1-12, Allred 1-12, McWilliams 1-9, Grace 1-9, Woods 1-7, Volsan 1-2. Texas Tech, Darden 6-79, B.Adams 2-4, Mitchell 1-45, Bass 1-28, Scovell 1-25, DuBuc 1-10, Lavender 1-6, Hansperd 1-4, Hobbs 1-4.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.