USC quarterback Sam Darnold (#14) and running back Ronald Jones II (#25) celebrating during a recent Trojan win. Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.com
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TROJAN FOOTBALL AFTER SIX GAMES – BY THE NUMBERS:
Record: 5-1, 2-1 in the Pac-12 Conference, first place in the Pac-12 South
Rank: #13 in the Associated Press and the Coaches Poll
Sam Darnold, QB – 64.8% completions, 1.705 yards, 12 TD, 9 INT
Ronald Jones II, RB – 529 rushing yards, 5.9 ypc, 7 TD
Stephen Carr, RB – 309 rushing yards, 5.9 ypc, 3 TD
Deontay Burnett, WR – 41 receptions, 527 yards, 6 TD
Cameron Smith, LB – 46 tackles, 6 TFL
Rasheem Green, DL – 6 TFL, 3.5 sacks
Christian Rector, DL – 4.5 sacks
Josh Falu, DL – 4 sacks
Marvel Tell III, S – 44 tackles, 2 INT
This is a rather nice picture of this shiny Trojan helmet. Photo courtesy of college footballnews.com
Last Game: Beat the Oregon State Beavers, 38-10, at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on October 7th
Next Game: vs the Utah Utes, at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Saturday, October 14th, 5:00 p.m.
A Few Thoughts:
At first glance, the 5-1 record that these Trojans sport at the halfway mark of the 2017 season is a clear sign that they are better than their 3-3 record at this time a year ago.
Upon a closer look, however, one word stands out as far as describing this USC team:
I saw that vulnerability in their close, sweat-it-out wins over Western Michigan, Texas, and especially California in Berkeley.
It all caught up with them in their loss to Washington State.
Remember in the Trojan predictions article when I listed those Cougars from the Palouse as one of the three teams that could beat ‘SC?
Here’s the link to that piece in case you missed it: http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/usc-trojans-football-2017-game-predictions/
Well, it’s not my intent to rub it in the Trojan Family’s face in an “I told you so!” kind of way, but…
As for USC’s most recent win over Oregon State, it’s like what my first high school marching band director told us after certain field tournaments in which we won:
“We want you to feel good about Saturday, but keep in mind (with all due respect to Oregon State) that we had no competition.”
Or as Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson told one of the Mighty Ducks players during the 1994 movie D2: The Mighty Ducks as they were whipping some team’s butt,
“My little brother can score against these guys!”
In other words, while it was a good way for those Trojans to get back on the winning track after that loss in Pullman, WA,
Oregon State, who just lost their coach today, is the worst team in the Pac-12 and thus not a test of ‘SC’s abilities.
Clay Helton’s team will be tested in their next two games, starting with Utah’s Utes in a game where if it was in Salt Lake City instead of the Coliseum, I’d call that contest a toss-up in which Utah could win.
After watching Colorado, a team that I had listed as being capable of beating the Trojans, against crosstown rival UCLA, I’m replacing the Buffaloes on my “Teams That Could Beat ‘SC” list with a team that those Men of Troy have been very familiar with for over ninety years:
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, who at 5-1 is having a very solid season, showing that they are clearly better than their 4-8 team of a year ago.
The fact that college football’s biggest intersectional rivalry game under Touchdown Jesus is in South Bend, IN this year leads me to make this declaration:
While I am not outright predicting a Trojan loss to the Irish, it would NOT surprise me in the least if that came to pass.
After that showdown, ‘SC has three winnable games against Colorado and the Arizona schools before their crosstown rivalry clash with UCLA on November 18th.
In a best case scenario, their record should be 9-2 before then.
But they could be 8-3, or even 7-4.
It will all depend on how Darnold, Jones, Burnett, Smith, and their other key players perform.
And whether or not the injury bug can be avoided as they have no bye week – a key factor in that unlike the rival Bruins this past Saturday, the Trojans have no opportunity to rest and heal up.
We’ll definitely see how that affects them once and for all these next few games.
By the way, the number one highlight of USC’s season for me to this point is this young man in the picture below, appearing as a long snapper in two games, including the last one against the Beavers.
He’s definitely one of the folks in the Trojan Family that I have nothing but respect for.
WAY TO GO, JAKE!