LOS ANGELES (AP) -Southern California got back to winning, but it was a struggle all the way.
Highly touted freshman Joe McKnight gave the Trojans the big plays they desperately needed, Mark Sanchez threw his first career touchdown pass, and No. 10 USC rallied to beat Arizona 20-13 Saturday.
Sanchez, a third-year sophomore making his first start, threw a 25-yard scoring pass to Fred Davis with 10:47 remaining on the first play after McKnight electrified the Los Angeles Coliseum crowd of 84,671 with a 45-yard punt return.
Suddenly, the Trojans (5-1)?led 17-13, and their defense held the Wildcats (2-5) without a first down after that. David Buehler kicked a 23-yard field goal with 57 seconds left to complete the scoring.
The game was USC's first since a shocking 24-23 loss to 41-point underdog Stanford, snapping the Trojans' 35-game homefield winning streak. It appeared they were going to go down again, this time as 21-point favorites, before McKnight's first big play. A punt hadn't been returned for more than 12 yards against Arizona punter Keenyn Crier previously this season.
Crier's 83-yard punt - one yard shy of the school record set in 1930 - rolled dead at the Trojans' 1 with 7:09 remaining. But after USC picked up a first down, McKnight raced 59 yards to the Arizona 27.
Sanchez later scrambled for 10 yards to the Arizona 2 on a third-and-7 play, and Buehler kicked his second field goal of the game three plays later.
USC (5-1, 3-1 Pac-10) won despite being held to 12 yards of total offense in the second quarter and 50 in the third period.
The Wildcats (2-5, 1-3) were clearly the better team until McKnight's punt return, overcoming a 10-0 deficit.
Sanchez, who entered having thrown 10 collegiate passes, completed 19 of 31 for 130 yards with two interceptions. He was filling in for John David Booty, who broke the middle finger on his throwing hand against Stanford.
McKnight finished with a career-best 75 yards on 13 carries. He returned two punts for 15 yards and rushed for 79 yards on 16 carries in his first five games at for the Trojans.
Arizona's Willie Tuitama completed 30 of 43 for 233 yards. The Wildcats were held to 22 yards rushing.