QB Matt Barkley tied the USC record for five TDs with different receivers on 324 yards on 26 of 39 passes with no INTs.
True freshman WR Marqise Lee caught a 43-yard TD, redshirt freshman TE Randall Telfer had a 44-yard TD and sophomore Robert Woods reeled in a 31-yard TD. Senior FB Rhett Ellison and redshirt freshman TE Xavier had the other two TDs.
WR Robert Woods is attracting double and triple coverage after his 17 receptions in the Minnesota game, so the other talented USC receivers are open and taking advantage of the opportunity to make big plays. Seven other receivers made receptions, and Woods still led the team with eight catches.
Barkley even scrambled 12 yards to gain a first down with a terrific straight arm on a Syracuse tackler. The crowd roared its approval. He gained 24 yards on three scrambles.
Here are video highlights of that game courtesy of USCTrojans.com.
Another true freshman, Marcus Martin, started his first game at left guard next to tackle Matt Kalil and center Khaled Holmes. Results were mixed as he made some mistakes. True Freshman Aundrey Walker also played for the first time.
The offensive line is doing a good job of pass protection, but the run game needs more work. Syracuse did a very good job of filling the box to stop the run, especially in the first half.
The running game was stalled in the first half with only six yards. Coach Kennedy Polamalu delivered a fiery halftime speech and USC finished with 175 yards sparked by Curtis McNeal in the fourth quarter.
McNeal’s 43-yard run broke several tackles and advanced the ball to the five-yard line near the end of the game. McNeal finished with 80 yards on only five carries. McNeal also played well on special teams.
The defense played a solid game again. New players such as true freshman LB Tre Madden and redshirt junior safety Drew McAllister made their season debuts. Anthony Brown was the nickel corner.
True freshman MLB Lamar Dawson also relieved Chris Galippo in several series. Dion Bailey (nine tackles) and Hayes Pullard (seven tackles) were the two leading tacklers.
Syracuse’s QB Ryan Nassib started out hot by completing all 11 of his attempts in the first quarter for three points, but only 14 of 26 in the last three quarters.
The Syracuse rushing was limited to 73 yards on 21 carries.
Matt Barkley told reporters after the game, “It’s about time. It felt like Trojan football again.”
Coach Lane Kiffin added, “The best thing was the second half.”
The Trojans improved for the third straight game, and increased from using 43 players in Week 1 to 47 in Week 2 and 54 in Week 3.
In spite of the 65,873 lowest attendance since 2002, the Trojan fans fully supported the team for the entire game. Everyone left excited that USC played a complete game and minimized mistakes.
Enjoy the video highlights of the game courtesy of T-Wire.
USC faces a very tough Arizona State on the road next Saturday, and the winner will most likely be the Pac-12 South Division champ.
Trojan fans should savor the Syracuse victory, but Monday begins the hard work to get ready for the Sun Devils.
There is plenty to feel good about the USC progress, but it will take another week of improvement to limit the Arizona State passing attack.
Pass defense, penalties, run blocking and turnover margin are areas to emphasize.
Since the NCAA won't let the Trojans participate in the Pac-12 championship game this year, the team badly wants to win the South Division so you can bet they will improve again.