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Final Thoughts: No. 6 USC Football Earns Tough Road Win Against Oregon State

Sep 25, 2022
  1. USC faced its first true hostile environment

    • A sea of orange greeted the Trojans when they took Reser Stadium Saturday. Though the venue was only at half capacity due to renovations, loud boos and jeers accompanied USC from its pregame warmups to post game celebrations. The hostile road environment set the backdrop for what would end up being a challenging night for USC. 

    • "It was a tremendous atmosphere," head coach Lincoln Riley said following the game. "I've definitely never been in an atmosphere like that where it's half a stadium."

  2. An off night for the Trojan offense

    • USC's offense was 'ole reliable heading into Saturday's matchup, but that quickly changed when the Trojans couldn't come up with a score on its opening series. It marked the first time USC was left empty handed to start a game in 2022. The offense's scoring woes continued until Travis Dye scored the first touchdown of the night with just three minutes left in the third quarter. Quarterback Caleb Williams finished 16 of 36 for 180 yards and one touchdown. USC was able to put it together when it mattered most, however, by engineering a game-winning drive that ended with a Jordan Addison touchdown.

    • "Obviously, not real enthused about how we played offensively other than the fact that we finished," Riley said. "We finished and we did it when we had to do it. And that was a huge drive there at the end."

  3. Defense rose to the occasion

    • Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch expressed a sense of urgency over the last three weeks to correct the mistakes that found its way into games. "We can't be in a position where we'll be fine as long as the offense scores," he said to reporters. 

    • Grinch was proven wise Saturday night when it was up to his defense to keep the game in reach for the Trojans. Oregon State's offense had averaged 45.6 points per game through the first three games of the season, but USC was able to hold the Beavers to just 14 points in Corvallis. The Trojans' stout defensive performance limited the Beavers' efficient offense to a season low in both receiving (167) and rushing (153) yards. The team's turnover magic also continued with four interceptions on the night.

    • "The night ended up being kind of a slugfest, really a defensive battle, back and forth," Riley said. "Of course, our defense, the four turnovers, the huge stops. I mean, closing the game, I just, you can't say enough about how we played defensively. I mean, you just you just can't. A lot of guys stepped up, played through a lot of things. It was a gutsy performance by our defense."

  4. Do or Dye

    • Running back Travis Dye continues to prove that he is a reliable weapon for the Trojans no matter the circumstance. The redshirt senior led the team in rushes with 133 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown. Dye has now rushed for three consecutive 100+ yard games for the first time in his collegiate career. He was given the ball in a critical 4th and 2 situation in the third quarter and promptly scored USC's first touchdown of the night. When everything else felt labored for the Trojans' offense, Dye's talent and tough running was a breath of life for USC.

    • "My offensive linemen were just doing their job to a tee," Dye said following the game. "It allowed me to get through those holes. So all credit to my offensive linemen for all three of those games."

  5. Where character is built

    • Let's face it, there wasn't a way to truly evaluate this USC team until it faced a serious test of adversity. Like Mike Tyson once said, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." Well the Trojans were jabbed several times Saturday, but kept swinging in the ring until the clock hit zero. USC had never trailed an opponent until it faced Oregon State and it had never had to solely rely on its defense to win a game until Saturday. The Trojans' fourth win of the season spoke volumes about the type of culture Lincoln Riley and his staff are building. Instead of folding in a hostile environment when their greatest strength was not at its best, the Trojans showed what they were made of instead.

    • "It was a tough place to play tonight, and probably more proud of this win than the previous three," Riley said. "If anything we've done up to this point shows the progress we're making in that locker room within the walls of culture, tonight as a whole really did show that. This is a huge road win. Road conference wins are gold."

Victory Podcast - Breaking down USC's 17-14 win over Oregon State: