With a score this lopsided, you have to wonder how else No. 1 Alabama might have needed to handicap itself to make romp over No. 20 USC competitive. Because as it is, the Tide played with a true freshman quarterback playing in his first game behind an offensive line that is still congealing, and in its first game without its longtime defensive coordinator and Heisman Trophy-winning running back. And Alabama still won 52-6.
USC was simply no match for Alabama. Perhaps it USC is still paying for the residual effect of the Reggie Bush sanctions. Perhaps it was playing with a rookie head coach against the greatest to ever do it. Perhaps USC just simply wasn’t ready. Perhaps it was all of those things combined. The final result saw its former head coach Lane Kiffin drop half a hundred on the team that fired him, and the Trojans learned exactly how far they have to go to reach the level of college football they once owned.
Saturday’s game before a sold out AT&T Stadium actually started well for the Trojans. USC accepted the ball to open the game, hit a 36-yard connection from Max Browne to Darreus Rogers on its second play and took a 3-0 lead, which it held to the midway point of the second quarter.
Then Alabama grabbed the lead on a 39-yard scoring strike from Jalen Hurts to ArDarius Stewart, and it never looked back.
In barely a quarter of game action, Alabama turned a 3-0 deficit into a 38-3 laugher. Marlon Humphrey returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown to put the Tide’s defense on the board, and Hurts accounted for three third-quarter touchdowns — another long strike to Stewart (71 yards, this one) and two short runs.
Hurts endured some typical boneheaded freshman plays — including fumbling away a zone read exchange on his very first snap — but recovered to connect on 6-of-11 passes for 118 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while rushing nine times for 32 yards and two touchdowns. And this is probably a low point for him.
USC notched a second field goal late in the third quarter, and Alabama responded by tacking on two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, a two-yard plunge by Bo Scarborough and a 45-yard catch-and-run score from starter Blake Barnett to Gehrig Dieter.
Overall, Alabama (1-0) held just a 15-11 edge in first downs but out-gained the Trojans 465-194. The Tide gained 7.4 yards per play to USC’s 2.9, and held a 242-64 edge on the ground. Ronald Jones II led USC (0-1) in rushing with seven carries for 46 yards — 46 of which came on one play — while Damien Harris paced Alabama with nine carries for 138 yards.