LOS ANGELES — As Caleb Williams walked off the Los Angeles Coliseum grass on Saturday afternoon after his first game as a USC Trojan — a 66-14 win over an overmatched Rice squad — he took his sweet time shaking hands, kissing babies and flashing the Victory sign to anyone who was brave enough to run up to him for a picture.

For a USC starting quarterback, this is standard operating procedure, especially following the Trojans’ highest scoring output since a 69-0 win over Washington State in 2008.

The first game of Williams’ inaugural USC Heisman campaign had gone swimmingly — a nearly flawless passing performance, another 68 rushing yards on the ground, a 52-point win — and now it was time to get down to business, to which the NIL superstar is growing very accustomed.

The business for USC this year is simple: Get butts back in the seats.

The school announced a crowd of 60,113 on Saturday, but it appeared to be far smaller. Worse, walking into the Coliseum on Saturday before the game, most of the fans I saw were…well, let’s just say they enjoyed USC football in the ’60s. There was certainly not a youth movement among Trojan faithful among the crowds I saw.

On Saturday, you could understand why Gen Zers stayed away.

Coming off a 4-8 season…in 100 degree weather…in the middle of Los Angeles…which has the best beaches in the country…yeah, it makes sense.

A 52-point win, even over an Owls team that barely gave a hoot, coupled with a win in USC’s early Pac-12 opener at Stanford next weekend, would go a long way toward packing the Coliseum once more. For a few quarters, at least.

“It was electric in the stadium,” said senior center Justin Dedich, who clearly doesn’t know what an electric L.A. Coliseum actually feels like. “Usually fans would leave the game because we were getting blown out so badly. Now they left because we won by so much.”

Well doesn’t that quote speak volumes.

If USC football players were scarred by a 4-8 season and a general malaise that set in under the previous Clay Helton regime, imagine how USC fans feel?

As recently as 2012, The Coliseum was the place to be. Or at least a place to be. USC averaged 87,945 fans that year in a 7-6 season, up 18 percent from the season prior. During the halcyon era of the Pete Carroll reign, USC regularly saw crowds of 90,000-plus.

In those days, with LenDale White and Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart and then Dwyane Jarrett and Matt Barkley and so many other five-star Trojans, it was cool to be a USC fan. There’s a certain attitude that sets in when a team is competing for championships. It’s not just the players.

The security guards puff their chests a little bigger when the stadium is rocking. The support staff has swagger.

And the fans? Well, they treat the Coliseum like its the hottest ticket in Hollywood.

That’s been missing at USC for a long time.

On Saturday, with the Trojans tying a Pac-12 record with three interceptions returned for touchdown and four total, with Williams distributing the ball around to a host of impact playmakers, with freshmen getting into the mix and turning on the jets — for a little while, at least, it felt like the old days.

Or, at least, it felt like the sins of the previous several seasons had been exorcised.

“This is a new era,” said wide receiver Mario Williams, like Williams and head coach Lincoln Riley, a transfer from Oklahoma. “This is SC.”

For Riley, it must have been a bit of a shock.

He left one of the most prestigious gigs in college football for arguably one of the few that are even higher-profile than the Sooners. The hype train has been in full effect for months, first with Riley’s hiring, then with the transfer of Williams, Oregon’s Travis Dye, Stanford’s Austin Jones, and others, reaching a crescendo with the much-publicized transfer of Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison from Pittsburgh. The Trojans have a retooled offense with one of the game’s most innovative minds and a host of brand-new talent. You’d think that could beckon more than an announced 60,000.

But Riley must know that he’s not in Norman anymore. There aren’t beached in Norman, Okla., at least ones you’d want to go to. Do cows wear two-piece bikinis?

He’s not just fighting a local swap meet these days. Within a 10-minute drive of the Coliseum, there are a thousand things to do. Only 927 of which will get you into trouble.

Of course, even he felt some nerves coming into his USC debut.

“I’m human,” he said after the game, “we all are. It is new and every season you feel it a little bit more. A new team, a new setting, a new school. … Even last night at the team meeting, you could tell. It was just like, ‘Get the game here.’ That feeling I had, you could sense that among the whole program.”

It didn’t take long for the edge to wear off. On USC’s first play of the game, Williams connected with a wide-open Addison for a 12-yard slant, then capped off a 7-play, 75-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown pass, once more to Addison, who was expected to be Williams’ primary target.

Only he wasn’t on Saturday. Not with so much offensive talent surrounding him.

Addison finished with five catches for 54 yards and two scores, Mario Williams had two for 43, and returning Trojan Tahj Washington, who barely got any pub this summer during USC’s transfer portal party, led all USC receivers with four grabs for 65 yards. Even lightning-quick 5-star freshman Raleek Brown got his fair share of the rock, catching two passes for 40 yards while rushing six times for 36 yards and a score.

For his part, Williams was ruthlessly efficient, completing 19-of-22 passes for 249 yards and two scores while adding a team-high 68 rushing yards on six carries.

“I thought he was in control and in command,” Riley said of his familiar quarterback. “He saw the field well. Our guys up front did a really good job protecting him. I thought he played very much in control and at ease. When quarterbacks are playing at a high level, that’s what it looks like to me.”

Williams even played his other important position to perfection as well.

He was the model leader after the game, a perfect ambassador for a USC football team that is fighting to regain its Los Angeles foothold.

Even if he rejects the premise.

“I don’t see it as that,” said Williams, when asked if he embraces his role as ambassador. “I see it as going out there, win the game we have. The first part is throughout the week, challenging the defense. … Then just go handle business on the weekends. Taking pics is just being nice. You’ve got little kids running up to you, just do that. None of that matters. What matters is being 1-0 that week.”

Riley knows that’s a bit naïve.

He knows his job is to fill the stands and get USC back at its rightful place in paradise’s pecking order.

As Riley ran off the field on Saturday, long after the game had ended, he too soaked it all in, flashed the Victory V and played mayor. As he was about to enter the tunnel toward the USC locker room, he spotted a familiar security guard and sprinted over for a celebratory fist bump.

Like it or not, that’s the gig at a place like USC and in a stadium like the Coliseum.

“The fans who were there, we appreciate them,” Riley said. “We understand in this city, and I think its fair, we have to go prove who we are as a team. If we do that, the more fans will respond and the more it will be filled up.”