USC vs. BC: Who Were the Studs and Who Were the Duds?


The No. 9 USC Trojans were shocked to the tune of a 37-31 loss at the hands of Boston College on Saturday night. They were out-physicaled, out-coached and just out-played in all three phases of the game.

Who had the biggest impact? Here’s our studs and duds from the game, highlighting who did the good things and who did the bad things, for both teams.


Cody Kessler: USC might be the country’s most underrated quarterback. The Trojan signal caller was 31-for-41 for 317 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday night, without throwing an interception. In fact, he’s thrown 105 passes in row without being picked off, dating back to Derron Smith’s pick six in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Trojans had tremendous success moving the ball through the air for long stretches, using both the short and intermediate passing game near flawlessly. Unfortunately for Kessler, he was not only handcuffed for much of the game, but put into bad spots on third down without much protection in front of him. He never wavered and turned the ball over though, which earns him the nod of ‘stud’.

With the First Pick

  • Tyler Murphy:

    Add the BC quarterback to the list of scramblers that have torched USC over the years, which includes the founder Ell Roberson and that guy from Texas. The ex-Florida Gator only completed five passes through the air, but ran the ball for an incredible 191 yards including a back-breaking 66-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Murphy made USC pay over and over again with his deceptive play fakes that left the Trojans guessing all night.

    Andre Heidari: After struggling towards the end of last year, Heidari has turned it on. He’s 4-of-5 this season, including two makes from beyond 50-yards. His 52-yard field goal in the first quarter on Saturday put the Trojans up 10-0 and seemingly set to cruise to victory. That didn’t exactly happen, but Heidari did his part.

    Steve Addazio: Credit where credit is due. Boston College entered this game having seemingly no business winning. But they did. Why? Because they made adjustments when it just wasn’t working. BC’s first three drives were three and outs netting minus-2 yards. Then, after being down 10-0 with nothing going right, head coach Addazio made changes, adopted the jumbo running game and rammed it down the Trojans’ throats to the tune of 452 yards rushing. That’s incredible coaching after a tumultuous start on offense. Tip your cap.

    Su’a Cravens: If it wasn’t for Cravens, the Trojans may have given up even more yards. The sophomore was all over the place and appeared to be the only player on USC’s defense that had a solid game despite making just five tackles. His big stuff on third down in the first quarter looked to set a tone for the Trojans’ defense…though it didn’t last. Like Heidari though, Cravens did his part.


    Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    Steve Sarkisian: It’s a small sample size through three weeks, but Sarkisian turned in his worst coaching performance at USC. And quite honestly, it could be his worst performance ever, dating back to his time under Pete Carroll. The Trojans came out firing early with the passing game, leading to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter despite struggling with the running game. But Sarkisian insisted on running the ball instead of using screens as runs. In an offense where handoffs to Buck Allen up the middle are the tonic, it’s understandable why Sarkisian kept running at first. But at some point, USC needed to abandon it, considering that Kessler was having yet another dominant performance as a passer. Adjusting too little and too let led to the Trojans’ first loss of the season.

    USC on 3rd down: The Trojans were just 5-for-16 and punted the ball 10 times. That’s not going to cut it when your defense can’t stop a nose bleed.

    USC’s offensive line: Give credit to the Trojans’ O-line for being consistent. They flat-out never got a push up front throughout the game. They had success dropping in max protect at times, but they repeatedly collapsed upon themselves on runs and crumbled in obvious pass plays on third down and long. It led to the Trojans running for just 20 yards on 29 attempts. Yes, twenty yards. Furthermore, BC had 16 tackles for loss. Against anyone, that’s a video game number. USC has to get better up front or its going to be a long season in the Pac-12.

    USC’s front seven: Even though the Trojans knew that BC was going to run the ball, they couldn’t stop them. Linebackers that cordoned off the edge on BC’s first three drives gave up the edge for the rest of the game. The defensive line that penetrated through BC’s offensive line early in the game stopped gaining leverage. The result was the aforementioned 452 yards on the ground, the most the Trojans have given up since the 1977 Bluebonnet Bowl.

    Boston College’s receivers: Murphy was only 5-of-13 passing and that was part due to the fact that BC was repeatedly dropping balls down field that would’ve netted the Eagles first downs.