USC has the history, the trophies and the lofty rankings but, at least in Pac-12 play lately, there was one team the Trojans have had consistent trouble beating in their in-state rival Stanford.
On Saturday night at the L.A. Coliseum though, it was the cardinal and gold that was the big bully in the trenches and the team whose tailbacks were running wild on a good defense. What looked like a shootout early on wound up being an impressive opening statement to conference play as No. 6 USC won their 11th in a row with a 42-24 victory over No. 14 Stanford.
The win comes after six days of wondering what was up with quarterback Sam Darnold, the prohibitive Heisman Trophy favorite who struggled a little in the team’s opening win but responded to all the nay-sayers with a vengeance by starting the game off with 11 straight completions. The redshirt sophomore wasn’t perfect (two interceptions) but was still masterful when moving around the pocket and posted eye-popping numbers of 21/26 for 316 yards and four touchdowns.
As good as he was, his two teammates in the backfield were even better.
That would be the one-two punch at running back in Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr. The former racked up 116 yards and two scores on the ground while the latter, just a freshman, recorded 119 yards. The two not only ran hard to keep the chains moving but showed plenty of burst and quickness to give rise to a potentially new combo of thunder and lightning in Los Angeles.
When all was said and done, the Trojans stayed remarkably balanced and had over 300 yards passing and rushing on the night. Then there was the defense that allowed just a late touchdown in the second half and started to tee off on their opponents with a terrific pass rush.
The loss was undoubtedly one of the more disappointing ones for David Shaw and the Cardinal — more so because they failed to win in the trenches for the first time in forever. Tailback Bryce Love did have some solid numbers with 160 yards and a touchdown on the ground but most of it came on an untouched score from 75 yards out. Quarterback Keller Chryst likewise started strong but the high scoring game quickly got too much for him in the second half.
Few teams were questioned quite like USC was after their opener but Saturday’s blowout win was quite the statement that yes, the program was indeed back on the college football scene. Judging by what happened to Stanford though, it doesn’t seem like the team is done either.
Georgia Tech lost a game to Hurricane Irma, a Sept. 16 trip to Central Florida. Georgia State also had a game canceled due to Irma — Saturday’s scheduled game with Memphis, which was axed to makeup the Memphis-UCF game that was supposed to be played Sept. 8.
So if Georgia Tech lost a game, and Georgia State lost a game, and the Atlanta schools stadiums’ sit just 2.2 miles away from each other, wouldn’t it make sense to try to get them together?
The sides tried, but the effort isn’t going to work.
As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Tech and Georgia State officials attempted to find a date that worked for both sides, but one simply is not available.
Georgia Tech attempted to arrange the game for Oct. 7, the Jackets’ original bye week, but Georgia State has a conference game against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 7. Georgia State is off on Nov. 18, but Georgia Tech visits Duke that day. The rare Championship Saturday makeup isn’t even possible (provided Georgia Tech doesn’t win the ACC Coastal) because Georgia State hosts Idaho on Dec. 2, in what is Idaho’s final game as a Sun Belt member.
Incidentally, Georgia Tech and Georgia State have never met on the field despite being two miles apart. Perhaps this episode will spur the Atlanta neighbors to invite the other over to play sometime down the line.
A clear cut sign when a coach is feeling the heat is when he scolds the media for focusing on negative stories instead of sharing the plethora of positive news happening all around the program.
In a purely unrelated note, Butch Jones is 3-1 this season with a tight win over Georgia Tech, a Hail Mary loss to Florida and a way-closer-than-it-should-have-been escape over Massachusetts on Saturday. The Vols host No. 7 Georgia on Saturday, and a loss there will almost certainly doom Tennessee to a 10th straight season without winning the SEC East, including all five seasons of the Jones era.
Jones was asked about an injury to defensive tackle Shy Tuttle, who suffered a broken orbital bone. Asked about a rumor that Tuttle was injured by a teammate, Jones launched into a rant that included chastising the media for “fake news.”
I think it’s safe to say Jones is wound just a little tightly these days.
Washington has been chugging along quite nicely in the early portion of the 2017 college football season, but the Huskies may have to continue through Pac-12 play without a key wide receiver on the field. Chico McClatcher, a junior, could potentially be done for the remainder of the season after breaking his ankle Saturday night against Colorado.
Washington head coach Chris Petersen announced McClatcher will be out for an undetermined amount of time, but the fear is a broken ankle could keep him out for the rest of the season.
In three games this season, McClatcher caught 10 passes for 128 yards. He did not play in a Week 3 game against Fresno State. On Saturday against the Buffs, McClatcher caught four passes for 44 yards in the 37-10 victory in Boulder.
Petersen did note McClatcher can still preserve a year of eligibility by utilizing a possible redshirt to his advantage.
Alabama and Clemson appear to be on a collision course for a third straight meeting in the College Football Playoff national championship, and the Crimson Tide and defending national champion Tigers remain the top two favorites to win the national championship this season, according to the latest updated odds from Bovada.
Alabama’s odds have moved to 19/10 after being 2/1 last week. Right behind Alabama is Clemson at 9/2 a week after having 11/2 odds. Despite having one loss on their record already, the Ohio State Buckeyes remain in the thick of the race as well with the third-best national title odds after four weeks of play. Ohio State is listed at 7/1 by Bovada, staying ahead of USC (15/2) and Oklahoma (8/1) despite a head-to-head loss to the Sooners in Columbus in Week 2.
Penn State comes in at 10/1, followed by Michigan at 12/1. Georgia is on the rise as well with 14/1 odds to stay ahead of Washington (16/1). The biggest drop of the week was by Oklahoma State, who fell from 9/1 to 20/1 after a home loss to TCU. The Horned Frogs jumped up from 75/1 to 33/1 this week.
Bovada also updated their Heisman Trophy odds, with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley moving to the top of the board.