USC football is back.
I know, they opened their season against Rice, who hasn’t had a winning season since 2014. And I know, they entered the game as 32.5-point favorites. They were expected to do what they did.
But at the same time, were they?
Since the 2017 Rose Bowl, USC football hasn’t been very good. Under Clay Helton, this team never lived up to its potential. They minimized the inferior opponents and fought against the best.
But on Saturday, in the opening game of one of the most exciting eras in USC football, they delivered one of the biggest blowouts in program history, and they did it in extremely exciting fashion. His 66 points was the most he The Trojans have scored in a game since 2008. His three interceptions returned for a touchdown tied a franchise record for most in a game.
USC only failed to score on one offensive series, the first of the game from their alternates in which two penalties derailed the series. And head coach Lincoln Riley was training just as hard after that series as he was before the opener.
It was an all-around dominant effort for the Trojans, one that USC fans really weren’t used to seeing. After the game, redshirt senior and team captain Justin Dedich summed it up perfectly:
“Usually the fans would leave the game because they beat us so much. [Today] they left because we won very well. That was new to me.”
The temperature at the start was 98 degrees. With a lack of clouds in Los Angeles’ sunny blue skies, fans cooked in the hot, bright sun for the entire three and a half hour game.
UCLA, which opened its season against Bowling Green in Pasadena just hours earlier, had a record attendance of just 27,143. For a team that was expected to compete in the Pac-12, it was abundantly clear that the heat was a factor.
However, not for USC, since 60,113 strong filled the Colosseum. Fans packed in early, excitement buzzing all morning.
And those 60,113 who weathered the heat, well, they were rewarded.
USC football is finally fun again. From their star quarterback’s near-perfect play to their four-headed monster’s exciting running game in the backfield to their cornucopia of riches at wide receiver, the offense never stagnated. And on the defensive end, after a slow start that allowed Rice to march down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive, they did it in record-breaking fashion.
“We’re going to keep working until people can’t even stand the thought of not going to a USC football game,” Riley said after the game.
If they continue to play like they did on Saturday, that task won’t be too difficult.