USC football forced four turnovers last week against Rice, and didn't miss a beat in their Week 2 matchup on Saturday against Stanford. They forced four more turnovers, two via interceptions and two via forced fumbles. First, it was Max Williams picking off Stanford QB Tanner McKee in the first drive of the game.
And what did USC do after that? They followed the turnover up with a four-play 33-yard drive for a touchdown to go up 7-0. Then, the next drive came around, and USC picked the ball off again in the end zone and saw Mekhi Blackmon return it to the 17-yard line after he secured the turnover. And then what did SC's offense do again? Go the distance for another touchdown to go up 14-0.
It was a common theme that kept popping up on Saturday. SC kept forcing turnovers, and kept making the Tree pay with points. In the first drive of the second quarter for Stanford, Williams forced another turnover--this one coming via a wicked hard hit on Cardinal RB E.J. Smith (son of Florida and NFL legend Emmitt Smith), and punching the ball away for a fumble.
Blackmon picked it up to sure up USC's possession of the rock. It was another turnover in the red zone, though. USC couldn't possibly take it 98 yards for another score, right? Wrong. The Trojans then went on yet another TD-scoring drive, putting SC up 28-7 at that point. The defense was setting up the offense with so many chances to score, and the offense was taking advantage.
USC football couldn't be contained on Saturday against Stanford.
USC football then forced yet another turnover in the third quarter, the fourth of the game, and all four being from defensive backs. It was Tuli Tuipulotu lighting up Smith for Smith's second fumble of the night. USC, once again, scored. It may not have been a touchdown, but the field goal put the Trojans up 41-14. Four turnovers, and 24 points off of those turnovers.
That was the story of the game. McKee couldn't get anything going. The highly-touted NFL Draft prospect completed only 20 passes out of 35 attempts, and averaged a lowly 6.3 yards per pass attempt (for just 220 total passing yards). He only threw one touchdown pass to his two picks.
He did score one on the ground, but he couldn't generate any offense in the game with his legs; going for an embarrassing -12 yards on the ground. The only way for Stanford to win was if their best players showed up. They really needed McKee and Smith to ball out, and McKee didn't have it.
And then even when Smith was gashing SC for 88 rushing yards on 19 carries (4.6 yards per tote) and a touchdown, and 26 receiving yards on three catches and a touchdown, SC was still forcing him to cough the ball up. And when that happened, SC's offense was just too much to come back from for Stanford.
On the other side, Caleb Williams completed 20 passes on 27 attempts for 341 yards and four scores. Travis Dye toted the tock for 14 carries and put up 105 yards on the ground and a touchdown. He added on a 19-yard reception. In the receiver room, Jordan Addison was as great as advertised; posting seven catches and 172 yards with a couple of trips to the end zone.
It was an impressive 41-28 win on the road over a team that SC knew would come out with a lot of juice against the Trojans. They play SC every year, and it's a traditional matchup. Stanford loves to play spoiler when USC (or anyone in the Pac-12) looks like they have a chance to compete nationally, but the Cardinal had too much to handle now that Lincoln Riley is coaching in L.A.