Three takeaways from USC’s 45-17 win over Fresno State
LOS ANGELES — The USC football team has been so impressive through three games that even a 45-17 win over Fresno State on Saturday felt a little underwhelming.
The Trojans’ offense, on the other hand, was utterly overwhelming against a Bulldogs defense that was coming off a heartbreaking 35-32 loss at Oregon State last Saturday.
USC out-gained the Bulldogs, 514-421 — its third consecutive game with 500-plus yards — and the Trojans finished with 29 first downs while completing 6-of-12 3rd downs. Caleb Williams continued his efficient ways for the Trojans, completing 25-of-37 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns, while USC had a pair of 100-yard rushers in Austin Jones (110 yards and a score) and Travis Dye (102 and a score).
The Trojans’ defense, while showing its weak spots, did hound Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener before eventually knocking him out in the third quarter with a lower leg injury. USC also held the Bulldogs out of the end zone on a key 4th-and-goal with a minute left in the game.
Long before then, though, the Trojans took control…
Trojans get off to another hot start
…as in from the opening drive.
After scoring touchdowns on its first five drives against the Stanford Cardinal last week and on their first three drives against the Rice Owls in Week 1, the Trojans once again scored on their first three possessions against the Bulldogs on Saturday night.
USC’s first drive went 83 yards in 12 plays over 4 minutes and 55 seconds, capped off by a Williams-to-Jordan Addison 2-yard touchdown. USC then went 65 yards on 12 plays, chewing up 5:26 of clock, with Williams scoring on an 8-yard run. Then the Trojans went 83 yards on 15 plays as Williams ran it in from a yard out.
All told, that’s 39 plays and 231 yards in the first three drives.
Offense overwhelms Bulldogs in the third
After an entirely uninspiring second half of a 41-28 win over Stanford last Saturday, the Trojans came out of the locker room with a vengeance against the Bulldogs.
USC scored on its first three possessions of the second half, with all three scoring drives combining for just over seven minutes of game time. And the Trojans did it in myriad ways.
The three drives included completions of 32, 21, 18 and 13 yards, as well as runs of 25, 12, 11 and 10 yards.
Fresno State’s defense, which tightened up at the end of the second quarter, all of a sudden found itself dizzied.
Trojans pass rush blossoms
On 1st-and-10 from the USC 47-yard line with 13 minutes, 15 seconds left in the third quarter, Fresno State’s worst fears were realized in the form of Solomon Byrd. The Trojans defensive lineman crushed Haener, forcing a fumble and Haener’s absence, as the talented Bulldogs quarterback was carted off the field after the play.
The sack was one of five for the Trojans on the day, including two by Tuli Tuipulotu. With nine sacks in the first two weeks and now five more, USC is dialing up the heat.