Oct 31, 2015; Berkeley, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans running back Ronald Jones II (25) runs for a touchdown against the California Golden Bears in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
USC vs. Cal was a must-win proposition for the Trojans, who delivered on the road thanks to big moments from key players.
Here’s a look at who stood out in the Trojans’ 27-21 victory for all the right reasons and all the wrong reasons:
Who were the studs?
Ronald Jones II: The theme of the game on social media was the imperative, “Give the ball to Ronald Jones!” The freshman running back had just 11 carries in the end, but he led the team in yardage, gaining 80 total to go along with the opening touchdown of the game for the Trojans. With an average of 7.3 yards per rush, fans and media alike are still wondering why Jones did not see more action.
Adoree’ Jackson: The explosive play maker got back to work on defense versus Jared Goff’s Cal and nabbed the first interception of his career as a result. In true Jackson style, he then took that interception to the house for a touchdown. On top of that score, he contributed two catches for 18 yards on offense.
Deontay Burnett: The blueshirt freshman did not have a catch against Utah despite injuries to Steven Mitchell, Darreus Rogers and Isaac Whitney. Against Cal, however, Deontay Burnett made himself invaluable. Leading the team in receiving yards with 82, Burnett made an impressive catch on a trick play with Jalen Greene. Then he took two bubble screens for big chunk yardage of 26 and 22 yards.
Tre Madden: Madden was not as effective as Jones throughout the day, but he made the play that may have saved the victory for the Trojans. Faced with a third and one and needing a first down to run the clock out, USC opted to run the ball up the middle. However, Cal took advantage of the pulling guard and had the play stuffed in the backfield. Madden bounced off the pile and was able to burst towards the outside to pick up the all-important conversion. In total, Madden had 14 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Though he was hampered by a thigh problem and ultimately left the game with a hand injury, Smith-Schuster led USC in receptions and hauled in several key grabs to convert first downs. Beyond that, he proved to be the Trojans’ biggest cheerleader on the sideline once his day officially ended.