Freshmen fuel USC’s demolition of Fresno State

How USC won: The Trojans were efficient in their not-so-hurry-up, no-huddle offense, striking early and often in Steve Sarkisian’s debut. USC reached the endzone on their first three possessions and scored on their first four. USC converted eight-straight first downs to begin the game.

It was a domination on many fronts.

By the time USC had stretched its lead to 14-0, the Trojans already were up to 158 yards of total offense to just one yard for Fresno State. Similar to the Las Vegas Bowl last December, USC proved to be too potent, and Cody Kessler fed off the Bulldogs’ defense to the tune of a career-high 394 yards, setting a career-high for the second consecutive game. He also tied his career-high with four touchdown passes, which originally was set in the aforementioned Las Vegas Bowl.

Stud(s) of the game: The freshmen. Through all the distractions and unspeakable labels thrown at their head coach, the USC freshmen were undeterred in their collegiate debuts. JuJu Smith had everyone scratching their heads, thinking about a different No. 9 who recently lined up at USC. Smith led the team with 123 receiving yards. Adoree’ Jackson lined up on both sides of the ball, was disruptive defensively and caught an 18-yard touchdown pass. Tight end Bryce Dixon had a 22-yard touchdown reception, while Toa Lobendahn, Damien Mama and Viane Talamaivao all made an impact on the offensive line. In total, USC ran a Pac-12 record 105 plays for 702 yards.

Dud of the game: Fresno State (0-1) entered the game without naming a starting quarterback, and they entered Saturday’s opener rotating two guys. Brian Burrell and Brandon Connette combined to go 18-for-36 for 160 yards and four interceptions.

Key stat: 18, as in the number of different players to touch the ball for USC. The Trojans had 10 different players catch a pass and eight different players with a rushing attempt.

Gallery: Freshmen provide instant impact for USC on Saturday.


They said it: "Coach Sark prepared all the freshmen to come out here and ball. Sark is not scared to play freshmen. If you’re good then he’s going to play you. He’s going to give you that chance. We came out here and took that chance and we did great." USC freshman wide receiver JuJu Smith. 

What’s next: Pac-12 play opens next week when the Trojans travel to No. 11 Stanford (1-0). The Trojans upset the Cardinal 20-17 last season, when Stanford was the 5th ranked team in the country. That game was at the Coliseum. The last time USC traveled to The Farm, they were upset 21-14 in 2012, when the Trojans began the season as the No. 1 team in the country.