LOS ANGELES — In some ways, USC’s 66-14 season-opening win over visiting Rice felt like a flawless victory.

Caleb Williams opened his Heisman candidacy by completing better than 86% of his passes while finishing with a passer rating of 211.4. The Trojans’ defense tied a Pac-12 record by returning three interceptions for touchdowns and finished with four picks on the day. And the USC running game constantly kept the Owls guessing, mixing up the rotation to average better than 8 yards per carry (adjusted for sacks).

But in front of a lackadaisical home crowd that was exhausted in 100-degree weather, the Trojans at times were lax themselves.

Is it possible for 50-point victory to feel like a letdown?

Here are three takeaways from the win.

USC’s defense turned it on in the second half — but there was reason for concern

It’s fitting this column is all about takeaways, considering USC excelled in the turnover game on Saturday.

But while there were big plays — namely the three interceptions returned for touchdowns, including on back-to-back drives — on the whole, the Trojans defense had to feel let down.

It’s not that the Rice offense struck at USC in spurts, getting lucky on a few plays when the Owls caught them looking. No, the Trojans were on their heels from the opening drive, a 16-play, 74-yard waltz that culminated in a 1-yard Ari Broussard touchdown run.

At times, being on their heels was a good thing, as in Calen Bullock’s 97-yard quick-pick-six.

Most of the time, it was not a good thing.

Rice had 10 first downs and 218 total yards in the first half, including 133 rushing yards, 100 by freshman Cameron Montgomery alone. The Owls had 10 rushes go for four or more yards, including a 55-yard Montgomery run and a 31-yard Montgomery run. Rice also connected on three passes of more than 10 yards in the first half.

Caleb Williams has a LOT of weapons

Caleb Williams certainly looked the part of a potential Heisman candidate on Saturday, completing 19 of 22 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns to Jordan Addison for a passer rating of 211.4 before exiting in the fourth quarter. He also added 68 rushing yards and generally looked unfazed by any pressure.

Most importantly, though, he spread the wealth. Eight different receivers had receptions in the first half, led by Tahj Washington, who had 65 yards on four grabs, including a 43-yard catch.

And Lincoln Riley kept Rice guessing on the ground, as well, with five USC ballhandlers combining for 80 first-half rushing yards on just eight carriers.

True freshman running back Raleek Brown, the team’s highest-rated recruit, was perhaps the biggest surprise. In a backfield rotation with veterans Travis Dye and Austin Jones, Brown showed an uncommon speed and shiftiness when he got in.

Lincoln Riley’s not in Norman anymore

Yes, it was over 100 degrees at kickoff and, yes, USC is coming off a 4-8 season.

But the empty seats all over the Los Angeles Coliseum had to be alarming to Riley. This is not what he’s used to, coming from Oklahoma, where the Norman faithful regularly packed 83,000-plus into Memorial Stadium.

Walking into the stadium on Saturday, there were a ton of long-time USC fans walking the Coliseum corridors, but there was very little youth movement.

Can Riley make USC football cool again? That may be the biggest mark he leaves on this program in Year 1.