Iconic USC Football QB Sam Darnold played well for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, but his offensive line and defense did not. His center snapped a bad snap when Darnold wasn't even ready on one play which gave the ball to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and his blindside tackle (Ikem Ekwonu) got lit up which led to Darnold getting hit as he threw on one of the last drives of the game--resulting in a fumble loss. As for the defense, they gave up 30 points.
Darnold averaged 9.2 yards per pass attempt on the day, and threw three touchdowns to just one interception. He also carried the football five times for 20 yards. He was most certainly not the problem, and not the problem for the Panthers at all throughout the whole season.
He also still has a winning record at 3-2 on the year once he was named the starter for Carolina. They were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss, but Carolina is 3-8 on the year without Darnold, so he most certainly had little to do with that.
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While Darnold may not be going to the postseason, another USC Football legend in Talanoa Hufanga is one of the many Trojans that will. Of course, Hufanga is being focused on here due to how strong he's been all season this year. He was selected as a Pro Bowler this season, and had nine tackles for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. It was yet another elite performance from him.
San Francisco already clinched their division a while back, and Hufanga has been a major part in why. He's now up to 93 tackles on the season with his performance on Sunday. He's picked off four passes this season, and even ran one of them back for a touchdown.
He's racked up nine pass-break-ups too. He makes all the NFL Draft pundits who claimed he wouldn't have success in the league because he was a "tweener" look delusional all year.
Saturday was a rough day for USC Football's future conference. The Big Ten went 1-2; dropping both College Football Playoff games (Michigan and Ohio State). While the B1G had much success in bowl season before those two games--winning all four bowl games before that, it does go to show that SC can compete in that conference by the time they get there in 2024.
For instance, SC had the same amount of wins as Ohio State coming into the contest. SC ended up not getting put in due to earning an extra game that Ohio State did not earn, and suffering injuries before and during the contest (Pac-12 Championship Game).
And while Michigan entered that game at 13-0, their defense (which everyone said would be a bad matchup for SC if the two teams played) gave up 51(!) points in the Fiesta Bowl. If anything, Playoff Saturday should raise SC's confidence of being able to hang with those teams come 2024, when Riley will have had two full seasons with SC heading in.