USC Football's Week 4 win was by far the closest win of the Lincoln Riley era. USC came into the game 3-0 with a 52-point win, a 13-point win, and a 28-point win. They left the game at Corvallis 4-0, but this one was much closer, and decided by only three points. While one may think this win was the worst of the year, Riley actually was more proud of this one than the rest:
And that's exactly how it should be. This team answered question after question when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. They forced FOUR interceptions, and only allowed 14 points. They only allowed 320 total yards too, and held Oregon State QB Chance Nolan to just 17 completions out of 29 attempts and for only 167 yards. He didn't score, and had just one rush for eight yards.
With the win, SC jumped up to the top 30 in fewest points per game allowed (18.25). Not bad for a defense that is apparently horrible to the rest of college football fans, and for a defensive coordinator who apparently can't coach defense according to the rest of college football fans. SC's defense is also tied for first with 14 turnovers forced, and tied for top five with 14 sacks.
USC football's defense has taken a remarkable jump from where it was last year.
USC football's defense has been solid this year, despite it being maybe the worst in Trojan history last season. There's a reason why new Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch is getting lots of attention for other head coaching jobs. There's also something to say about the offense coming to life at the end of the game, when it mattered most.
They orchestrated an 11-play, three minute and 22 second drive where they marched down the field and scored a game-winning touchdown to put the Trojans up 17-14 with 1:13 left. They had a tough night overall, but came through when it mattered most. That wouldn't have been the case, of course, if the defense didn't keep them in the game.
Shane Lee led the squad with 12 tackles. Four different Trojans (Ceyair Wright, Mekhi Blackmon, Max Williams, and Eric Gentry) all brought in interceptions. The team only allowed 320 total yards. It was a magnificent performance from the side of the ball that's endured the most scrutiny all year.
Nobody thought USC would be able to win a game with their defense, and it turns out that not only is that false, but they can also win very important games with their defense.