Score: USC 19, Minnesota 17
Week 1 AP No. 25 USC had a record-setting day, but barely beat the Big Ten’s Minnesota.
WR Robert Woods set a Trojan record for receptions with 17 for 177 yards and three TDs, and QB Matt Barkley broke the record for completions with 34-of-45 (including eight drops) to lead the Trojans.
Woods was named Pac-12 Player of the Week and National Wide Receiver of the Week.
This was a tale of two halves, as the Trojans dominated the Golden Gophers in the first half and led 19-3. USC was driving for another score to open the second half when a bad snap by new center Khaled Holmes resulted in a 35-yard turnover and a Minnesota TD.
The Trojan offense stalled during the second half due to untimely penalties (most of the eight penalties for 75 yards) and lack of adjustments by the coaching staff, while Minnesota’s new coach, Jerry Kill, got his team fired up.
The USC defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage with four sacks and eight tackles for a loss, and handled the Minnesota spread offense very well.
However, when Gopher QB MarQueis Gray went down with leg cramps in the fourth quarter, true freshman QB Max Shortell led Minnesota for an 83-yard TD drive when the USC defense played soft to close the gap to 19-17.
USC drove the field, but four penalties prevented a score and gave the ball back to Minnesota. This time, assistant head coach Monte Kiffin called a man-to-man defense, and sophomore CB Torin Harris intercepted Shortell’s pass at the 40-yard line.
The rebuilding Trojan OL did not play as well as hoped, especially inside the tackles. This affected the offensive play-calling and limited the running game to 24 carries by freshman D.J. Morgan and junior Curtis McNeal for 104 yards.
The Trojans were disappointed and surprised by the second half and have a lot of issues to address before the first Pac-12 conference game in history this Saturday against the Utah Utes.
Coach Lane Kiffin admitted that the Trojans could not beat the Utes with a repeat performance from Saturday.