STANFORD, Calif. (AP)Caleb Williams stood up and offered one last parting thought: ”Fight on! 2-and-0, baby!” His decorated fingernails told a story, too: Stanford’s iconic tree mascot on each middle digit.
Williams threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns, with two of those going to Jordan Addison, leading No. 10 Southern California past Stanford 41-28 on Saturday night in the Pac-12 opener.
First-year USC coach Lincoln Riley had his own postgame message: ”Look at 12 months ago.” That’s a reference to the 42-28 beating – nearly the same score as Saturday – the Trojans took at home from upset-hungry Stanford on Sept. 11 last year.
Addison wound up with seven catches for 172 yards and Travis Dye ran for 105 yards and a touchdown, while the Trojans’ opportunistic defense shined again with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries – four turnovers that led to 17 points.
Dominant USC (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) didn’t have a third-down play until 52 seconds before halftime and punted for the first time with 8:02 left.
”This series has been extremely one-sided over the last 15 years, especially here,” Riley said. ”We took that personal.”
Williams completed 20 of 27 throws – 13 of his first 15 – and Dye ran for a 27-yard score in a first half that featured 685 yards of offense between the teams. Williams then hit Addison for a 48-yard gain right out of halftime that set up Denis Lynch’s 45-yard field goal. Lynch later missed wide left from 39 yards before hitting from 42 yards.
Early in the second quarter, Williams connected on back-to-back passes to Mario Williams. The first was a 43-yard completion that set up their 15-yard scoring play.
”We just executed this offense overall,” Caleb Williams said. ”All 11 guys on one page, everybody did his job.”
Lake McRee caught the first TD pass of the day by Williams, a 5-yarder, as the Trojans notched their second lopsided win so far after a 66-14 thumping of Rice in the season opener. With Williams’ 19-for-22 performance in that one, the sophomore star has now completed 39 of 49 passes for 590 yards in two games.
USC’s defense has forced eight total turnovers this season.
”We put the defense in a lot of bad positions, too many bad positions,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. ”We had opportunities to keep the ball a little bit longer, score some more points. We could have gone into halftime with a lead if we didn’t turn the ball over. So that to me is the story of the game.”
Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee threw an interception on his third play from scrimmage for Stanford (1-1, 0-1) that Max Williams tipped and caught before returning it 32 yards. Then McKee threw another pick Cain the end zone by Mekhi Blackmon on 4th-and-2 with a chance to tie the game.
The Cardinal capitalized on their next chance when McKee connected on a 3-yard TD pass to E.J. Smith to cap a seven-play, 93-yard drive that got Stanford within 14-7.
But just like that, the Trojans answered immediately. Williams connected with Addison on a 75-yard catch and run.
Riley can’t wait to see every phase continue to click as the new-look Trojans gain more experience together.
”We’re just on our climb, on our journey,” he said.
Smith also ran for a 5-yard score and McKee had a 2-yard TD rush while finishing the day 20 of 25 for 220 yards passing.
USC running back Austin Jones carried eight times for 38 yards facing his former Stanford team after transferring during the offseason. He ran for 1,155 yards and 12 TDs in three seasons with the Cardinal.
The Trojans, who had won just one of their previous five meetings at Stanford dating to 2010, improved to 71-24-5 in conference openers and have won 33 of their last 52. Also, USC has won 24 of its last 37 road conference openers with a 29-14-2 record overall outside of Los Angeles.
DAY OF HONORS
Stanford honored former star quarterback Andrew Luck for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame this year.
He won all three of his career starts against USC, including a triple-overtime thriller on the road in 2011. Highlights showed on the big screen. He smiled and waved with his young family in tow.
Also Saturday, the school celebrated Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer and former Cardinal star Nneka Ogwumike among those inducted into the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
USC: Hosts Fresno State next Saturday.
Stanford: After a bye week, the Cardinal visits Washington on Sept. 24.
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