Nov 7, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans tailback Ronald Jones (25) celebrates with receiver Jalen Greene (10) after scoring on a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
USC vs. Arizona was not the cake walk Vegas and many others expected, but the Trojans proved capable of handling a storm.
Here’s a look at who stood out in the Trojans’ 38-30 victory for all the right reasons and all the wrong reasons:
Who were the studs?
Ronald Jones II: USC’s freshman phenom etched his name in the record books Saturday night in a performance which only reaffirmed calls by media and fans alike that he should be the featured Trojan back. Ronald Jones II bested Lendale White’s single-game freshman running record with 176 yards on the ground in 19 carries. He tied the game for the Trojans just before half time on a rare receiving touchdown, then gave USC the lead in the fourth quarter on a tough-sledding 74-yard scoring run.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Without knowing about JuJu Smith-Schuster’s broken hand, it would have been easy to miss that there was anything physically wrong with the sophomore receiver against Arizona. Clay Helton called him “Superman” before the game. He lived up to that billing by leading USC’s passing game with eight receptions for 138 yards, including a 72-yard bomb.
John Plattenburg: USC’s secondary was hardly at their best against Arizona, but John Plattenburg made perhaps the two most game-changing plays of the evening. First, Plattenburg nabbed an interception deep in the red zone when it looked as though the Wildcats might bury the Trojans with a third touchdown in the first half. Instead, USC got the ball back and scored on Smith-Schuster’s quick strike. In the second half, Plattenburg’s big moment may be lost in the running game’s success, but the sophomore safety sprinted to catch up to Tyrell Johnson and made the last-ditch tackle on special teams to deny Arizona a touchdown on the kick off following Jones’ long scoring run. A sack and a penalty later, the Wildcats came away with zero points on the drive which might have put them within one once more.
Su’a Cravens: The leader of the defense, Su’a Cravens had another All-American level game, pitching in eight tackles to top all defenders as well as 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. When he left the game with a slight injury, the performance of the defense as a whole was noticeably harmed.
Antwaun Woods: In perhaps the best performance of his career, Antwaun Woods gave the Arizona offensive line fits as he burst through for three sacks. All told he had six tackles and was integral in USC’s ability to hold Jared Baker to just 65 yards on the night.