USC vs. Arizona 2017: Studs and duds from Trojans’ big Pac-12 South win

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images /
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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images /

USC vs. Arizona featured a blown 21-3 lead, but the Trojans snuffed out the Wildcat rally and came away with a huge Pac-12 South victory.

USC vs. Arizona in 2017 started off much like the matchup did last year. The Trojans looked dominant on defense while Ronald Jones II was showed the potential that made him a dark horse Heisman candidate.

Then in the most excruciating third quarter in recent memory, it all came tumbling down. Khalil Tate sprung back to life and Arizona rallied to tie the game. USC answered the bell by leaning on their stars and pulled out a 49-35 victory at the Coliseum.

Let’s take a look at the studs and duds from the Trojans Homecoming victory…


Aca’Cedric Ware

USC came out Saturday night with the intent of being physical up front against a smaller Arizona defense. As a result, the Trojans rotated their running backs to keep them fresh for the ground-and-pound approach. The backup who made the most of his chances on Saturday night was junior Aca’Cedric Ware.

Ware, who is usually buried on the depth chart behind Vavae Malepaei and Stephen Carr, got his chance to shine with an increased workload due to injuries. He didn’t waste his opportunity either. He carried the ball 14 times for 122 yards and a touchdown, while also catching one pass for 13 yards. His score was on an explosive 42-yard run in the second half.

The USC Defense

Now some of you just read that and are about to freak out. It’s understandable to be confused when there is a blown lead and the defense still makes the studs. The simple answer is because that same defense you saw in the second half, came out and absolutely shut down one of the conference’s most electric players in the first half.

USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast had a superb game plan coming in. The Trojans played the quarterback, forcing the dive, and keeping contain, picture perfect.

Yes, the second half was shakier, but give Rich Rodriguez credit. He gets paid a lot of money to coach too, and that’s what he did. He came up with great adjustments to get his dynamic playmaker firmly into the game.

Because of that first half work that USC did against Tate and the Wildcats, they provided enough of a cushion to handle the inevitable offensive struggles.

The reason that this wasn’t a come from behind victory, or a late rally that fell short, is because USC’s defense played so well. Yes, they blew a lead, but not all studs are perfect, they just get the job when it counts.

Ronald Jones II

When Ronald Jones II career does officially end and he moves on to the NFL, we are all going to look back on how criminally underused he was. Until that day comes though, you are urged to sit back and appreciate one of the best running backs to ever play for USC.

The Texas Tesla had another phenomenal game, racking up 194 yards on a career-high 27 carries with three touchdowns. Jones II also had three catches for 39 yards, including a big third down grab for 33 yards in the fourth quarter.

The junior back displayed all the ability that should make him a first-round pick, whenever he decides to leave. He showed his ability to slash, make one cut and get upfield, as well as his explosiveness on a 52-yard run. Also on display was the strength to get into the end zone on short yardage plays.

Jones II may have had a historic night if his 98-yard touchdown run in the first wasn’t called back for holding.