Steve Sarkisian couldn’t have scripted a better start to his USC head coaching career.
After a less-than-ideal, controversy-filled week, the Trojans threw off any concerns about distractions by thoroughly demolishing the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Coliseum, 52-13.
In the rematch of 2013’s Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, USC picked up where they left off last season despite debuting a new offense and plenty of fresh faces.
Cody Kessler topped his career highs with a 394-yard, five-touchdown performance which officially announces his candidacy to be among the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks in 2014.
Meanwhile, freshmen JuJu Smith and Adoree’ Jackson similarly began their competing campaigns to be the conference’s freshman of the year.
Smith logged four catches for 123 yards, including a long of 53 yards. His counterpart, Jackson, reeled in three catches and a touchdown while also appearing on defense for the Trojans.
Fresno State struggled to contain the Trojans defensively and saw mixed results from their two quarterbacks. Brian Burrell was ultimately more efficient, finishing 11-19 for 92 yards. However, Brandon Connette would have seemed the more effective of the two if not for two costly interceptions.
The Trojans controlled the game with Sarkisian’s hurry-up, no-huddle offense, but it was the efficiency of the USC attack which made the difference. USC was 12-18 on third down.
Kessler started the scoring with 1-yard run to cap off the opening drive. A pair of touchdown passes to Agholor followed as the Trojans took a commanding 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
The second quarter featured a number of mistakes from both sides as back to back to back turnovers kept both sides from mounting any sort of substantial offensive drive. Missed opportunities defined the interval.
After Fresno State punched in their first score of the outing, a 1-yard touchdown from Marteze Waller which was prompted by a quarterback change from the Bulldogs, USC responded with an 18-yard Jackson touchdown and by halftime it was clear that the Trojans held the clear edge.
Still, the Bulldogs came out strong to start the second half. That resurgence was short-lived however when USC grabbed control once more and ripped off three more touchdowns to seal the victory.