USC vs. Colorado 2017: Studs and duds from Trojans’ South-clinching win

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Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
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Ronald Jones II achieved his dreams, but Jack Jones had a nightmare performance. Here are some of the studs and duds from USC vs. Colorado.

USC went on the the road for the final time in the regular season with a chance to come home with a division title. The men of Troy were able to handle business and come away with the win.

In what is now becoming typical USC fashion, the Trojans jumped out to a big lead. Then, also in typical USC fashion, they let Colorado hang around and make the game much more interesting than it needed to be.

Let’s take a look at the studs and suds from the South Division-clinching win:


Ronald Jones II

Ronald Jones II is the most talented running back in the country, whose team does not diagram specifically for him. USC runs basic blocking schemes, and lucky for the Trojans, all Jones II needs to be magic is a few touches.

Jones II is known for his explosive speed and elusiveness, but on Saturday he showed more power. After talking about working to put on extra weight and getting stronger in the offseason, he showed the payoff today.

While USC was struggling to maintain blocks at the point of attack, Jones II used that newfound strength to leverage extra yards, including another highlight run in which he cut back and shrugged off a tackler before heading into the endzone.

Jones II has us asking the question, why isn’t he in the Heisman debate? The Texas Tesla finished the game with 25 carries for 142 yards and a score. He has 550 yards rushing in the last three games, simply incredible.

Ajene Harris

After being picked on by Arizona last week, Harris proved again Saturday afternoon that he should be left alone. Harris, who is usually only talked about when fans are lamenting another punt hitting the ground, had himself a game. The junior nickelback did a fantastic job in man coverage all afternoon against Colorado’s talented receiving corps.

Harris, however, came up the biggest at the end of both halves. At the end of the first half when the Buffaloes were looking to make it a game, he had a pick six, giving USC a 20-0 halftime lead and snuffing out early signs of a rally.

Then after some struggles with secondary mate Jack Jones, Harris came up big with another interception. This time it was late in the fourth when Colorado was looking to make it a one-possession game. Harris made a great catch, then almost made a great lateral to spring Marvell Tell III for a score.

Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold had his best game of the season Saturday afternoon in Boulde. The sophomore quarterback finished the game with 21-of-34 passing, 329 yards and two touchdowns.

Darnold also showed off his athleticism, carrying three times for 31 yards and a score. A lot of the time, he will scramble and try to force a throw. Saturday he did a good job of knowing when to tuck it, and when to chuck it.

More importantly, Darnold played a clean game from start to finish. While he did have a mild scare with his fumble in the fourth, he was able to fall on the ball.

On top of that, he looked fairly good this game from a ball placement standpoint. While he missed a few throws here and there it was mostly great. The throw on the out route to Steven Mitchell on third-and-14 is why he is a top prospect.

Honorable Mention: Michael Pittman

While the other receivers may have had more catches and more yardage, Michael Pittman was there when USC needed him. When the offense was sputtering in the first half, the sophomore wideout had a big third-down catch to keep a drive alive. Then a few plays later came right back and caught the touchdown pass over the defender.

Pittman finished with four catches for 59 yards and his first touchdown as a Trojan.