USC football vs. Washington State final score: Trojans impress in best outing yet

USC football receiver Tyler Vaughns. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
USC football receiver Tyler Vaughns. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports) /

USC football had their best performance of the season vs. Washington State

USC was back at the Coliseum for a rare Sunday night matchup with Washington State and they made the most of it.

For the first time in 2020, the Trojans were completely dominant. They left no doubt, trouncing the Cougars in a game that will launch them into the final stage of the campaign.

Here’s how it went down.

USC football 38, Washington State 13

The lowdown: If you were worried USC would show rust after a week off, limited practice time and missing starters, they assuaged those concerns quickly.

The Trojans forced a turnover on downs on defense then survived a Drake London fumble in the red zone and went on to play mistake-free football. Kedon Slovis hit Amon-Ra St. Brown on a seven-yard slant and USC was off to the races.

St. Brown caught a third-down pass from Slovis from 22 yards out for USC’s second score, then Talanoa Hufanga intercepted WSU quarterback Jayden de Laura and hurdled a defender to return the ball to the goal line. There St. Brown took a shovel pass on a sweep four yards to the pylon. When Olaijah Griffin intercepted another de Laura pass, St. Brown was there again to benefit on a two-yard fade into the endzone.

By the end of the first quarter, USC led 28-0.

The game slowed down a bit in the second quarter, but the Trojan advantage was still clear. On a third-and-short, Slovis faked a handoff and went over the top 35 yards for Tyler Vaughns for the quarterback’s fifth touchdown of the half. Washington State responded with some rushing success before scoring on their final drive. A missed extra point settled the score at 35-6.

USC had to settle for field goal attempts in the third quarter with Parker Lewis hitting one from 48 yards and missing a second from 31 yards.

However, it didn’t really matter as Washington State was unable to generate the points to push the Trojans.

The takeaway: It’s been a long, long time since USC had a better first quarter or first half than Sunday night’s.

The Trojans were dominant in every facet of the game. On defense, the energy was outstanding. Players swarmed to the ball and shook off some early missed tackles to make huge impact plays. None were bigger than those of Hufanga, who set the tone physically from the getgo.

On offense, USC simply had too much for Washington State’s depleted secondary to handle. With Slovis dealing, they didn’t stand a chance.

If there are concerns they relate to the second half when USC either took their foot off the gas or fell into old bad habits. It didn’t come back to bite them, but failing to score a touchdown in the third quarter is a worrying trend that continued even through a great performance

Overall, it was USC’s best performance of the season and certainly their most impressive at the Coliseum since they demolished Stanford in 2017.

Player of the game: Talanoa Hufanga, who led the team with nine tackles, a sack and an interception, and Amon-Ra St. Brown, who finished with seven catches for 65 yards and four touchdowns.

Stat of the game: Amon-Ra St. Brown’s four touchdowns in the first quarter tie a single-game USC record for receiving TDs.

Next on tap: The Crosstown Rivalry with UCLA is scheduled for Saturday at the Rose Bowl.