After a long week full of harsh criticism, Lane Kiffin’s USC Trojans came to play this afternoon, putting together a complete game in all three phases of the game, to beat the Boston College Eagles 35-7.
From the start, it was just a different team, and subsequently a different game for USC from last week’s 10-7 loss to Washington State.
On offense, Kiffin mixed up the play calling and game planned around Cody Kessler at quarterback, who had a stellar performance in his first start since being named the full-time starter.
Kessler was 17-of-19 on the day for 264 yards, with his two incompletions coming on deep balls to Marqise Lee.
The passing game was really able to open up for the Trojans as Kiffin designed a gameplan that got the ball into the hands of a slew of playmakers, rather than being predicated solely on getting Lee the ball.
Eight different players had receptions in the game, while the first six catches were by six different receivers. Lee didn’t have a typical Lee day, but he still caught what may have been the easiest 80-yard reception of his career, on the game’s second touchdown.
In the backfield, Tre Madden once again was steady for the Trojans. He opened up the scoring in the first quarter on a dump pass from Kessler, and got over the 100-yard mark for the third straight game, the first back to open a season that way since Marcus Allen’s Hesiman season back in 1981.
With an effective Madden and a passing game that focused on spreading the wealth, it opened up the play action pass for the Trojans, in addition to the inclusion of freshman running back Justin Davis, as a compliment to Madden.
The 17-year-old freshman ran for 96 yards on 10 carries, including a 39-yard run that electrified the Coliseum late in the third quarter.
Defensively, Clancy Pendergast’s defense was rock solid once again. For the third game in a row, the first team defense had a clean sheet in terms of touchdowns, as BC was only able to muster one trip into the redzone, on a fourth quarter touchdown against USC’s second-string defense.
Quarterback Chase Rettig was never comfortable in the pocket, as the Trojans put both pressure and pads on him throughout the afternoon. Rettig came into the game completing 68 percent of his passes so far in his senior season, and USC held him to just 83 yardsm while going 11-for-24 on attempts.
BC put up some yards in the ground-and-pound game against the Trojans’ No. 1 defense, though Andre Williams finished the game with just 38 yards on 17 carries. Tyler Rouse and Chase Rettig each had one big gain on the ground, though the Eagles averaged 1.8 yards per carry on their other 26 rush attempts.
With the win, the Trojans are now 2-1 and can look ahead to a four-game stretch against four completely different spread offenses, and four teams that will test USC tremendously. They play host to Chuckie Keeton and Utah State next Saturday at 12:30 pm in the Coliseum.
As for Boston College, Steve Addazio’s Eagles are now 2-1, and they’ll face Jameis Winston and ACC power Florida State in two weeks.