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Keys to the Game: #4 USC Trojans vs Texas Longhorns

The Trojans will attempt to roll on with their third victory of the season coming off their biggest win yet

NCAA Football: Stanford at Southern California Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Trojans are not a typical Top-Five team.

If recent history has shown anything, it’s that USC’s momentum comes to a crashing halt as soon as it picks up.

There was a fair amount of preseason hype for the Trojans last year, but an opening day stomping by Alabama and an early definitive loss to Stanford curbed any national title hopes USC had.

With last week’s dominant victory, the #4 Trojans are heavily favored against a severely underwhelming Texas Longhorns squad. That just means there’s a legitimate chance USC loses in terrible fashion because…

In a pragmatic lens, the Trojans should handily win this game. Here are the main points as to how they secure their third victory of the season.

College Football’s Newest(Best?) Tandem

Heading into the season, there no questioning Ronald Jones II ‘s role as the workhorse—yet there was some cause for concern for the muddled backfield for the backup job.

Enter Stephen Carr.

Carr was USC’s crown jewel in their 2016 recruiting class as he was the third-ranked runningback in the nation and a bonafide five-star recruit.

Many speculated Carr would carve out a role on special teams while fighting it out with Aca’Cedric Ware and Dominic Davis for a few carries throughout the season.

Hogwash! (Yeah I don’t know either...)

Carr has come alive this season to perfectly compliment Jones:

First Two Weeks

Player Carries Yards YPC TDs
Player Carries Yards YPC TDs
Ronald Jones III 41 275 6.7 5
Stephen Carr 18 188 10.4 2

Yes, Sam Darnold may be the face of this team, but the running attack has been the absolute heart of this offense and has allowed for its high efficiency thus far.

The Trojans must roll on and trust in both Jones and Carr to lead the way.

Speaking of the Run…

As much success as the Trojans have had running the football, they’ve had the same amount of trouble stopping the run.

The defense is still figuring things out and with linebacker Porter Gustin doubtful to play on Saturday night, the Trojans might once again have their hands full on the ground.

After SEEMINGLY figuring things out in their 56-0 victory over San Jose St. last week, Texas dominated on the ground as the monstrous junior RB Chris Warren III ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Sophomore Kyle Porter also tacked on 72 yards for one touchdown in what is run-option based offense for the Longhorns.

The biggest concern in this game for USC is still their inability to tackle. They’ve shown trouble tackling sub-200 lbs. running backs in their first two games—but now they have to deal with Warren who is all of 6’4” 250 lbs.

NCAA Football: Texas at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Most likely without Gustin, the Trojans—most notably outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu and lineman Rasheem Green will have to answer the call and extinguish the only bit of credible offense Texas has to offer.

Malik Jefferson is STILL A BAD MAN

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The junior linebacker is a projected first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and has consistently been one of the best players in the country.

Finishing his sophomore season with 59 tackles and 5.5 sacks, Jefferson has 16 total tackles through two games this year and is still looking for his first sack.

With his level of activity and usage in space, Jefferson might have his first big game of the year Saturday night and ultimately spell trouble for the Trojans.

Darnold has thrown two interceptions in each of his first two games, and doing so against a defense that features a star like Jefferson can quickly change the momentum especially if the Longhorns can find success on the run.