The University of Southern California has been a constant stable in the Pac-12 conference for the better part of the last decade. The Trojans have been a constant in Bowl Games and have helped put the Pac-12 back on the college football map.
The Trojans however, have fallen from grace the last couple seasons since Pete Carroll jumped ship to the National Football League and the Seattle Seahawks. Lane Kiffin was brought in to replace Pete Carroll. Kiffin was fired last season after a disappointing two and a half seasons with the Trojans, including 2012 where the Trojans were the pre-season number two team in the country.
Ed Orgeron was brought in to replace Kiffin for the rest of last season. The Trojans ended their season 10-4 including a Las Vegas Bowl win over the Fresno State Bulldogs, who the Trojans handled in their season opener 52-13 this past Saturday night. The victory was the first for new Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian, who returned to USC after leading the Washington Huskies. The Trojans offense looked different under the Trojans former offensive coordinator. The Trojans looked like a team possessed posting 701 yards of total offense against the Bulldogs.
The game also proved to be a coming out party for a couple of Trojans as quarterback Cody Kessler and running back Javorius “Buck” Allen.
Kessler had a career game for the Trojans going 25/37 for 394 yards, 300 in the first half, and four touchdowns as the Fresno State backfield got picked apart by Sarkisian’s new aerial assault. Buck Allen balanced out the offense by pounding 22 carries for 133 yards and a touchdown, as the Trojans put up their best offensive performance since the Pete Carroll era. Receivers Juju Smith and Nelson Agholor were Kesslers favorite targets in the rout. Smith racked four catches for 123 yards while Agholor put up five catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns.
The Trojans defense shut down the high powered Bulldog offense to the tune of 317 total yards while chalking up four interceptions by the Bulldogs quarterback duo of Brian Burrell and Brandon Connette. The Trojans defense had two hiccups that led to the two Bulldogs touchdowns but were able to shutdown the Bulldogs for the rest of the contest.
The Trojans proved that this season under Steve Sarkisian will be different than the Lane Kiffin era. It will be put to the test Saturday when USC travels to Palo Alto to take on the #11 Stanford Cardinal, whom USC upset last season in Los Angeles. Stanford beat UC Davis 45-0 on Saturday but will need to prove to the Pac-12 that they are still the team to beat. The Trojans come into the game confident that not only they can beat the back-to-back defending Pac-12 Champions, but the team that can give the Oregon Ducks a fight for the conference title.