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USC Runs Over 100 Plays Crushing Fresno State 52-13 In Season Opener

The Trojans were off and running in Coach Sarkisian's debut.

The 76,000-plus fans liked what they saw from USC's offense.
The 76,000-plus fans liked what they saw from USC's offense.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC elected to receive the opening kickoff, and they wasted no time marching right down the field for an impressive touchdown drive. Capped by a one-yard scamper from quarterback Cody Kessler, the Trojans never really looked back after jumping out to an impressive 24-0 lead over the Fresno State Bulldogs.

"That was fun. Gosh, what a game," coach Sarkisian said following the Trojans' 104-play, 700-yard offensive display featuring a bevy of outstanding performances.

After nearly throwing a pick-six on the opening throw of the game, quarterback Cody Kessler converted third-down after third-down pushing the football down the field for easy scores. The biggest beneficiary, sophomore wideout Darreus Rogers, led the team with five catches for 60 yards --including three big third-down conversions.

"I loved it. I love the game, that's not gonna be the last time we're gonna celebrate," coach Sarkisian said in the post-game presser regarding his team's opening performance.

Kessler finished the game 25-for-37, throwing for a career-high 396 yards. He distributed the ball with poise, accuracy and avoided a somewhat strong Fresno State pass rush.

Rotating an assortment of bodies on the offensive line, especially as the Zach Banner-Damien Mama group rotated in and out with Viane Talamaivao-Nathan Guertler, USC pounded the rock with authority.

The Trojans ended up dominating the run-pass ratio, pounding the rock 60 times for 268 yards. Led by the veteran presence of Buck Allen, who amassed 133 yards on 22 carries, the running game was on point. Walk-on James Toland IV got some much-deserved carries (11 for 38) in the fourth quarter, complementing sophomore Justin Davis.

"We were trying to keep our guys fresh, and for the most part it worked out" Sarkisian said. The most exciting play of the game came from Nelson Agholor, diving down the field on a deflected pass for one of his five catches on the day.

Adoree' Jackson and Bryce Dixon may argue with that, but Agholor showed some great flashes catching the football --highlighted by his two touchdown grabs in the first half.

The Trojans' defense came to play from the start, stymying the quarterback tandem of Brian Burrell and Brandon Connette, each of whom combined for just 148 yards passing. The Bulldogs could never quite find a rhythm on offense, resulting in four intercepted passes, many of which seemed like tipped volleyball passes, and slow-developing drives that could never really get going.

Max Browne then entered the game for Kessler, completing four of his first five passes on the night in his USC debut. A bevy of young players got action, including Adoree' Jackson (3 for 36, TD), JuJu Smith (4 for 123) and Ajene Harris (1 for 8), all performances that impressed coach Sarkisian after the game.

USC controlled 38 minutes of possession, now outscoring the Bulldogs 97-33 in back-to-back meetings. Even redshirt senior Victor Blackwell got involved in the action snagging four passes for 64 yards. The offensive outburst was powerful, long-felt and dominant from start to finish; but rest assured No. 11 Stanford will ready to exact revenge.

Final Notes

  • Attendance was just over 76,000 in the Coliseum
  • Cody Kessler set a career-high with 394 passing yards
  • Leonard Williams intercepted his second career pass
  • Adoree' Jackson gave himself a "C rating" on the night
  • Gerald Bowman and Anthony Sarao earned strong INT
  • TE Chris Willson broke his foot in the second half