Rivalry Week Trash Talk

Welcome back everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve made a post (despite saying I was going to Tom Brady myself out of retirement almost a year ago). But the mention of Tom Brady might have you thinking some combination of the following:

  1. “You weren’t the GOAT of the blog world, probably not even the GOAT of something super specific, like the satirical USC football blog world.”
  2. “Your wife didn’t leave you”
  3. “Your blog posts coming out of retirement didn’t suck”

If you were thinking number one, thanks, but you’re still reading, so I won. If you were thinking number three, thanks, you’re too kind. If you’re thinking number 2, I would like you inform you that I dated a Bruin during this absentee time and it went about as well as you would expect—just a heartbreaker like any other Bruin (enough to dedicate an entire trash talk post about UCLA)1. Leaving retirement and the woman leaving me was enough for me to draw the Tom Brady parallel. Sure, it was a bit forced, but it’s hard to find good content sometimes…however—CommBro Breaker—sometimes, content is so good, it pretty much writes itself.

It’s rivalry week, and we’re all just looking for a good excuse to talk trash. I know many of us are in search of good tidbits to zing ’em with. I’ve given you the comprehensive history of the eight clap in the past, and while I can rest on those laurels for the rest of my life, I will provide you with some quality quips at the expense of the Bruins.

We look back more than a century ago, to the founding of the UCLA football team. The University of California decided that UCLA should field a football team in their first year as a school in 1919. As with most teams, you play who you can when you first form a team. For example, when USC began playing football in 1888, they tussled with the Alliance Athletic Club twice, finishing 2-0 that season. The start of UCLA’s season began with three consecutive games against high schools. They lost to them all. That’s right—their program began with three consecutive losses to high schools…including a 0-74 loss against Manual Arts High School. While that seems like it could be a candidate for most points allowed by a UCLA team, USC actually beat them 76-0 back in 1929. It would’ve been comical if a high school or USC held that record to this day, but no, it was Whittier dropping 103 points on them in 1920. That will be a tough one to beat. For reference, USC has never allowed more than 62 points in a game, despite having 30ish more years of football history. We’re getting distracted though…

Back to that first UCLA season, they also Misleading Stat of the Week lost against every opponent they played that year. As the fact-checkers I hope you all are, seeing that 2-6 record might have you ready to burn me at the stake, but look at those two wins they had: Occidental freshman and LA JC (who later took over UCLA’s second campus). Those poor Bruins ended up losing to those two teams on their second meeting that season making my statement true in the most technical sense. Oops, did I say Bruins? Back then, they were actually called the Cubs—the Southern Branch Cubs. In those days, USC Trojans would call them “the twigs.” Those two lone wins did set a precedent though. The next two head coaches would also only win two games before leaving the position. That’s right, the first three UCLA Southern Branch head coaches each only won two games each and left with losing records. With that kind of start, it’s amazing they’ve survived this long.

This concludes the trash talk post. Thanks for reading and see you next time…whenever the heck that is.

1 Did I really just put footnotes into a blog post? Yes, but only in the interest of being fair and honest (like all my blog posts *wink wink*). While I talked trash all in good fun, the poor Bruin girl I was referencing was actually a really great person, but it wouldn’t have worked out. I’m just trying to make humorous content and sometimes you have to force the narrative to fit.

USC 2021 Stats and Stuff

Welcome back everyone. Yes, I disappeared for a long time due to the chaos in my life. It took a season of historically bad stats to bring me out of temporary retirement. I had intended to publish after the UCLA game, but got bogged down by some events leading up to the BYU game. Needless to say, it was an eventful week. Let’s just start it off.

After dropping to a 4-6 record and embarrassing defeat by crosstown rival, UCLA, I decided to examine just how bad the defense was. If you’ve been reading the blog closely, you know by now how few losing records USC has accumulated through the years. Below is a list of all 9 of them dating back to 1957. Why am I cherry picking such an odd year to stop at? 1957? There must be an agenda. Hello, you must be new here. City of Angles has an agenda guarantee or your money back. I’m not compensating you for your time—and neither is USC for all the time I wasted watching this dumpster fire.

YearRecordCoachTenure Details
20214-8 or 5-7Clay Helton/Interim Donte WilliamsYear 6 of 6
20185-7Clay HeltonYear 3 of 6
20005-7Paul HackettYear 3 of 3
19913-8Larry SmithYear 5 of 6
19834-6-1Ted TollnerYear 1 of 4
19614-5-1John McKayYear 2 of 16
19604-6John McKayYear 1 of 16
19584-5-1Don ClarkYear 2 of 3
19571-9Don ClarkYear 1 of 3

As a tangent, there are lots of interesting observations from this. In almost every case, a coach picks up a losing season at USC either within the first two or last two seasons. It seems like they usually build things up or get fired soon after. The only exception to this is Clay Helton…who managed to get one in year three of six and didn’t get fired until he was about to pick up another one in his final year. He is also one of three that is able to show up on the list twice. Legendary coach John McKay took two seasons to work his way up to the four national championships and 9 conference championships he would earn over the remaining 14 years. The other is Don Clark…that had a team that didn’t have scholarship players at certain positions due to severe restrictions on recruiting by the Pacific Coast Conference. That brings me back to the main agenda-pushing…

There was lots of chatter amongst USC circles about 2021 being the worst season since 1957. That’s definitely not true by record, since 1991 had a 3-8 season, but I’m sure it got overlooked. Basically no one on the current team was alive back then (except for Ben Griffiths, maybe a few months old at the time). Even interim coach Donte Williams was only around 9 years old back then. Maybe by some other metric, you could make this argument, but not by wins and losses. So could this season be the worst season since 1991—a 30-year low? Nay, I posit that this may be the worst season of ALL TIME.

It’s a bold statement, but here are my arguments:

USC lost 71% of home games this season (5 of 7), which is tied for second worst number of home losses as the 2000, 1991, and 1935 seasons. The worst was 1957 with 6 of 6 lost. That’s probably why there was a mass exodus at the beginning of almost every fourth quarter this season. Either that or they mistook the lighting of the torch as a fire and proceeded to evacuate to the nearest tunnel like that video keeps telling us to do.

This season had the first home loss to Oregon State since 1960. That’s a nasty 50-year streak that got broken…back before the first person went to space (1961).

It was also the first home loss to Utah in 1916…a whopping 105 years. The record has to say Los Angeles because the last time somebody saw Utah win against USC at home, the Coliseum did not exist yet. That’s because it was a built as a memorial to WWI veterans, which began in 1921 and was completed in 1923. WWI was still ongoing and the US had not even officially entered into the war until December of 1917. Look up significant things that happened in 1916, it’s pretty funny. The previous Utah win against USC at home is in league with “First successful blood transfusion,” “National Park Service created,” and “Rockefeller becomes world’s first billionaire.” I could sit here and make more comparisons to show how absurdly long of a time it has been, but I won’t. We have other stats to harp on.

That UCLA loss was also the most the Bruins have ever scored against USC. The previous high was 48 points in 1996, but it was also a double overtime game. The 62 points allowed ties for the highest points allowed by a USC defense in history (Oregon 2012, ASU 2013). Last, but not least (nothing to do with points is “the least” this season), the 29 point margin of loss is the largest since 1954 (0-34), when UCLA went undefeated and won their first and only national championship (that was split with Ohio State). It was also the season that the Bruins first debuted their powder blue uniforms (I hope you appreciated this tidbit because I had to log into ProQuest to fact check it).

After hammering home (like how just about every team hammered USC at home this season) just how long ago most of this stuff is, I saved one of the best stats for last. By points per game allowed, this is the WORST defense of ALL TIME. That’s all one hundred thirty-three years from 1888 to 2021. When I first crunched this stat out (about a week ago), USC was averaging 32.2 points per game allowed, and still had a chance to not have that dubious distinction.

Their only task would be to hold BYU and Cal to a combined 32 points. Seeing as how BYU already put up 35 points, it’s not only over, but will actually increase the average and pad the stats. Unless Cal somehow puts up at least negative four points, this stat will hold. During my delve into hundred plus years of history, I thought the 1901 season might come close to having a worse scoring defense. The two game schedule had one opponent scoring 45 points, but the average came out to 25.5. Unsurprisingly, the previous high was also Helton-involved at 29.4 ppg allowed back in 2019.

While most of these stats (other than scoring defense) aren’t the worst, they’re pretty damn bad. You could make arguments about the 1-9 1957 season or the 3-8 1991 season as being worse, but neither of them had all these things happen during the same season. As stated before, that 1-9 team also requires some huge asterisks due to the state of the roster. Coach Clark ended up achieving an 8-2 record two years after that 1-9 season before retiring and handing things off to John McKay, so it still seems better than the final season of one of the worst head coaches in USC history.

CommBro Breaker

USC did put up a good fight against 9-2, #13 BYU and was mere yards away from a victory, showing a bit of that “Fight On” attitude again. Perhaps someone whispered to them that LINCOLN FREAKING RILEY would be there soon.

While the season itself sucks, Mike Bohn and Brandon Sosna pulled off one of the greatest coaching search processes of all time. They brought in one of the best prospects that money can pay for right now and simultaneously managed to keep it quiet right up until the end. Who even knew he was a real option?

Personally, I didn’t even think it would be possible to poach a coach from a similar tier school/blue blood such as Oklahoma. While the guy’s resume is short (4 complete seasons), he has never finished outside of the top 10 and his team likely will do so again at the end of this season. He had playoff appearances in each of his first three seasons and four NY6 bowl appearances. There aren’t a whole lot of better active coaches in college football, or just active coaches in general. In the end, even if he isn’t able to win national championships at USC, he should at least move us squarely back into the right position. I can’t really think of any better options that are available. Riley’s offenses will be amazing to watch…the defensive coordinator he’s bringing is a little less exciting. The team will go as far as the defense lets it.

FYI, if you have a moment, you should check out the post-press conference interview with Sosna. He exudes well thought out philosophies, is well-spoken, and provides interesting background to the process. USC better do what they can to keep him for as long as they can.

Anyway, welcome back to all the readers. It wasn’t my best content, but I’ll get back to my old ways as USC now will. Thanks for showing up after the excessively long hiatus. See you all again soon (hopefully).

USC vs. Cal: Confused Cat

California vs. USC
November 16, 2019 at 8:05pm
Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA: 46,397 (of 62,467)
Total Time: 3 hours 17 minutes

Somehow, Helton took his team on the road and managed to score 41 points on one of the better Pac-12 defenses. That’s the most points anyone has scored on Cal in a single game all season and one point shy of the most points scored on them since 2018. Before playing USC, they held teams to an average of less than 21 points per game. That would’ve ranked them around #26 in the nation in scoring defense, had they not played USC. Helton is probably feeling pretty good about himself after this win, but I doubt it convinced anyone that he should be retained at the end of the season.

At the beginning of the game, Cal was able to run with at the USC front seven with success and scored first. Typically, the talent in skill positions can be somewhat comparable between schools like Cal and USC. The true gulf usually lies in the line talent, which would show in the running game on either end. The continued run success of USC’s opponents suggests a gulf in coaching ability.

After figuring out the exploitable match-ups between the Cal secondary and USC receivers, the Trojans went vertical as often as they could. More than one third of Slovis’ attempts were completed for 10 or more yards and five completions were in the 30+ yard range.

12 passes of 10+ yards (34% of attempts)
7 passes of 20+ yards (20% of attempts)
5 passes of 30+ yards (14% of attempts)

Many of the touchdowns throws came from very anti-climatic slips by Cal defenders. It resulted in plays like this one:

His celebration had about as much enthusiasm as me when I found out that I won $2 from a $1 scratcher. I guess he’s seen better touchdowns though.

Speaking of which, four different receivers had touchdowns, which is pretty cool.


BAD: Ejection of defensive lineman, Christian Rector, due to targeting. His tackle for

BAD: The umpire was standing in the way of a pass route, requiring him to duck for the ball to get to Pittman. The obstacle proved to be enough for cause him to drop it.

GOOD: Slovis being able to scramble and come to a complete stop before passing to Drake London.

BAD: Like the story for many of USC’s opponents this season, the starting QB went out of the game, allowing USC to beat them down. The game was still a tough 10-7 until their offense stalled out with backup QB Devon Modster in for the starter Chase Garbers.

GOOD: Cornerback Greg Johnson’s long interception return.

GOOD/BAD: The tip interception to Isaiah Pola-Mao was great…until he fumbled it on the return.

GOOD: It was great for the back ups to get some playing time in for once.

CommBro Breaker

Only one more game until the end of the regular season. Then endless speculation regarding coaching moves will be fueled until a new hire is formally announced by Athletic Director Mike Bohn. USC fans will be sitting together like this:

I think most people can agree that we are beyond the point of saying Helton can recover. (Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1:) There are only three teams with winning records in the conference at the moment. USC has played all of them and only beat Utah. Despite such a soft schedule, they could only muster up a 7-4 record.

It will take a Utah loss to either Arizona this week or Colorado next week and a USC win against UCLA for USC to make it to the conference championship game. Either way, we hope the UCLA game is his last game.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: Averaging 2.1 yards per rush. USC almost averaged more scoring drives per quarter than that. Cal managed to average 4.7 yards per run.

USC vs. ASU: What’s the difference between Helton and a dollar bill?

November 9, 2019 at 12:35pm
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ: 54,191 (of 55,000)
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes

I had predicted a loss to ASU, and despite the early 28-7 lead, I still expected it to happen. Luckily, I was proven wrong and we can enjoy being bowl eligible for the first time since 2017. Many of you probably still feel like this:

However, I don’t think that will be the issue. Would a new athletic director really want their performance evaluated based on a head coach that has lost the fanbase and is a hire from two athletic directors ago? Based on subtle hints in Mike Bohn’s speech, it seems like we should expect a set outcome no matter how Helton finishes the season.

Helton posted up one of the highest scoring first quarters—the highest since Sark’s first season, with Kessler throwing for 4 TDs against Colorado. He almost tricked us into thinking he knew what he was doing.

Slovis looked like he had end of game stats by the end of the first quarter (297 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions). As a result, Helton seemed to be lulled into thinking the game actually ended already. He could’ve stayed at his first quarter scoring numbers and still won the game. Getting an average of one point per quarter after the first isn’t much better than that.

  • ZERO touchdowns in quarters two through four
  • Allowing a 19-3 scoring run by ASU
  • Scoring drought of 28:45…basically half the game

Still, that was one of the better first quarters we’ve seen. Being able to gain 315 yards compared to ASU’s 1 yard, while holding the Sun Devils to 0 first downs is quite a sight. He had a decent first quarter against Oregon last week too. That’s three quarters he’s basically MIA for. Where’s the other 75% of the coach? Now we know where the other quarter platform went in King’s Cross Station.

We wish Helton could disappear into the wall as well.

Now imagine him in other professions.

  • Pizza delivery: Order a large pizza, only get two individual slices
  • Audio technician: half a speaker for your stereo setup
  • Marathon runner: Stops after 6.55 miles
  • Furniture designer: One-legged table
  • College student: Cooks minute rice for 15 seconds

Can the school pay him 25% of the salary? Even his first quarter was full of problems like:

  • illegal shift on a freaking PAT after the first touchdown
  • allowed large kickoff return after going up 14-0 and again after 21-0. The second one was a squib kick that still got to the 50-yard line. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what a squib is supposed to do?


GOOD: Former USC safety, Jack Jones tried to strip the ball from running back Kenan Christon and failed miserably. The transfer’s greedy play allowed Christon to run it in for the touchdown.

BAD: Linebacker John Houston’s near interception that bounced directly into an ASU player’s hands.

GOOD: Kedon Slovis’ perfect touch pass from the 5-yard line that Amon-Ra St. Brown turned into a touchdown.

GOOD: Safety Isaiah Pola-Mao making an interception as if he was the receiver.

BAD: Slovis’ first mistake near the end of the second quarter. He overthrew Pittman on double coverage despite having time. That led to an interception.

BAD: False start penalty while trying to go for it on 4th down.

BAD: A pass interference on cornerback Olijah Griffin, which ESPN showed on screen as committed by “Devon Williams”—who is currently an Oregon wide receiver. Williams and Griffin both wore #2 when they were on the USC roster. Williams transferred a while ago. Maybe ESPN can put this on their “C’mon Man!” segments?

GOOD: Receiver Drake London ripping away a near interception from a defender’s hands on a 3rd-and-18 during the short period of time Matt Fink was in for Slovis.

BAD: Roughing the passer penalty that wiped out an interception. It’s technically written that way in the rulebook, but it really shouldn’t be that way. If the roughing penalty caused the turnover, I could understand returning possession back to the offense, but if that’s the case, that means it shouldn’t be roughing since he hit the guy as he passed the ball. If it didn’t affect the play, the 15-yard penalty should be assessed after the play has ended, which means the ball still gets turned over. The rule is the same in the NFL and CFB, but I think it should be changed.

GOOD/BAD: C’mon Pac-12, a review on a punt? At least it showed punter Ben Griffiths and the special teams’ best work all year: pinning ASU at the 1-yard line.

GOOD: St. Brown’s 24-yard punt return.

GOOD: Defensive lineman Christian Rector with the tip and the interception.

CommBro Breaker

Finally bowl eligible! We can safely say this season is better than last season. Only took 10 weeks of the season to confirm. They’ve got back-to-back UCs in the next two weeks. We’ll see how it goes…

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: The offensive line only allowed 1 sack this game. They also gave Slovis time to throw on most passing plays. Quite surprising since he was getting rushed or knocked down every other play last week.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: Don’t ever let anyone tell you Helton isn’t the best at something. He is the best in the nation in every statistical category for allowing long kickoff returns. That means everything from 30+ to 90+ yards. Can you think of the worst FBS teams—ones that may not even have any wins right now? Well, they have allowed less than Helton’s team has this season.

USC vs. Oregon: Streak Breaking Continues

USC vs. Oregon (Trojan Family Weekend)
November 2, 2019 at 5:05pm
Los Angeles, CA: 63,011 (of 77,500)
Total Time: 3 hours 34 minutes

For the first seven games of the season, this was how it went:

Then he decided to go and do that wrong too by breaking the streak last week in an away game win. This week, he continued the streak breaking by losing at home against Oregon. It wasn’t just losing that made it bad. It was in the top five largest margin of loss in the last 50 or so years (since the 0-51 loss to Notre Dame in 1966). Of the eight losses of 30 or more points in that span, Helton accounts for three of them.

2019 USC vs. #7 Oregon: 24-56 (34 point loss)
2017 #11 USC vs. #13 Notre Dame: 14-49 (35-point loss)
2016 #20 USC vs. #1 Alabama: 6-52 (46-point loss)
2009 #11 USC vs. #25 Stanford: 21-55 (34-point loss)
1990 #5 USC vs. #21 Washington: 0-31 (31 (31-point loss)
1985 USC vs. Notre Dame: 3-37 (34-point loss)
1977 #5 USC vs. #11 Notre Dame: 19-49 (30-point loss)
1966 #10 USC vs. #1 Notre Dame: 0-51 (51-point loss)

Even if we stretch it out through all of USC football history, Helton accounts for 13% of all USC losses of 30 or more points from 1888 to 2019 and this game ties for the 7th worst.

Believe it or not, some of them still exist

Before the exodus of USC fans in the fourth quarter, there was still quite a large presence of Oregon fans in the stands. I’ve honestly seen less hostile away games during my time (like USC-Stanford in Palo Alto at 12:30pm, when it feels more like a neutral site or USC home game).

It’s hard to believe that the team started out with a double digit lead before squandering it. The Trojans even pulled back within 4 after falling behind. Most teams would be able to hold it together with 20 seconds left to go before the half, but, somehow, the team with a dedicated special teams coach allowed another large kickoff return that ultimately broke the team’s back.

Oregon scored touchdowns on six straight offensive possessions and one apiece on defense and special teams. In the time that Oregon went from zero to 56, USC scored a single touchdown. The 0-60 stat is supposed to describe how fast cars accelerate, not the scoring totals of the opposing offense. A 56-7 scoring run is absolutely disgusting. The Trojans’ three touchdowns are spaced out by about 25 minutes each after the first one (23:55 and 27:09). Scoring droughts of that length don’t win you many games against top 10 teams. At least the ones that we did see gave us some excitement.

Quarterback Kedon Slovis’ first touchdown pass to Drake London looked like he was inputting keystrokes for Dance Dance Revolution or the Konami Code. He definitely needed cheat codes if he was going to try to win this game on his own.

Unfortunately, as mentioned last week, this kind of hero mentality can also hurt when it doesn’t work. He looked absolutely frantic at times. This generated some bad plays, near-turnovers, and actual turnovers. It reminds me a bit of Darnold starting to reach more and more and becoming a turnover machine later into his time at USC. Perhaps it is borne out of a desperate desire to win under a coach that can’t seem to get it together. Hard to blame him, given the context. By the end of the first half, Slovis already attempted an astounding 40 passes. Throwing 40 passes in a game is already a lot, even for air raid teams. Pass happy air raid teams like Washington State tend to sit around 30 to 50 attempts per game. Slovis hitting those numbers at the half and finishing with nearly 60 attempts illustrates the immense strain they are putting on the true freshman. Two of the three interceptions weren’t even his fault. One was a catchable ball being tipped by the receiver and one was when the receiver fell, allowing the defender unfettered access to the interception.


GOOD: Cornerback Greg Johnson’s deep pass break up early in the first quarter. It was a well-disciplined play that has rarely been seen from corners in recent years.

GOOD: Holding Oregon’s offense to zero points and negative yardage for most of the first quarter.

GOOD: Running back Kenan Christon continues to impress at running back. Had the team not fallen behind so much and been forced into throwing situations, he likely could’ve gotten his second career 100-yard game.

BAD: After the team gave up a pick six, the PAT block unit has a member running onto the field late. Those two consecutive plays demonstrated the mess that this team is under Helton.

BAD: Bad tackling every week.

CommBro Breaker

After the ninth game of the season, USC is 5-4 and still struggling to be bowl eligible. There’s a real possibility they could lose to all three of the remaining opponents (especially with two road games) and finish with a second consecutive losing season for the first time in 60 years. Even if USC wins out, Utah will need to drop a game to make a Pac-12 championship berth a possibility. Finishing 10-4 with a Rose Bowl win is still somehow not outside the realm of possibility.

Best case scenario: 10-4 with a Rose Bowl win then Helton still gets fired and replaced with a competent head coach.

What I expect to happen: 8-5 finish then Helton still gets fired and replaced with a competent head coach.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week: Oregon had more interception return yards (102) than USC had rushing yards (91).

Uplifting Stat of the Week: We really had to dig the bottom of to the bottom of the Walmart DVD bargain bin for this one. USC is #16 in the nation in passing yardage, despite all the changes at quarterback and playing younger players.

Misleading Stat of the Week: USC has a 100% win percentage this season…in games attended by less than 62,546 people. Maybe Helton has stage fright. Just kidding. It just means they are able to beat up on teams that don’t have as much resources.

USC vs. Colorado: Is this a quality road win?

Colorado vs. USC
October 25, 2019 at 6:00pm
Folsom Field, Boulder, CO: 48,913 (of 50,183)
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

Survey says: No.

Clay Helton has defied the narrative and broken the road losing streak! That’s how it looks on paper, but if you watched the game, you might have noticed how painful and Helton-like it actually was.

The Trojans fell behind as much as 10 points and played from behind for nearly 43 minutes of the game. We’re looking at trends here. This kind of thing even happened to Pete Carroll every once in a while, but Helton is facing worse competition and still manages to make these easier games look like a playoff slugfest week after week. This wasn’t #1 vs. #2; it was a team with 3 wins and 4 losses trying to stay afloat in the Pac-12 South and has never beaten USC. At least he won, I guess.

The offensive side of the ball looked great in flashes, but failed to find consistency…yet again. While the young quarterback, Kedon Slovis, produced a good statistical performance, completing 30 of 44 passes (68%) for 406 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception, there were some concerning areas. Perhaps it’s the pressure of an unreliable coach, but he has appeared to take on a hero mentality and regressed in some areas. For one, he began to dance around in the pocket a bit and hold onto the ball for too long.  Other times he threw passes up haphazardly and dangerously in the air to avoid sacks in shades of Josh Rosen. That kind of playing leads to intentional grounding, interceptions, and fumbles. In fact, in one situation, he needlessly reached forward for extra yards after picking up a first down near the goal line. The resulting fumble took a lucky bounce.

It’s not all negative though. Slovis was on the receiving end of many hits during and after plays. Few quarterbacks, especially true freshman, can continue to deliver a solid performance after getting repeatedly knocked down play-after-play on the road.

If Colorado had a tad bit more in them, they could have ended the game several times over. They had plenty of opportunities to do so, but the heavily penalized Buffaloes allowed USC to complete the comeback with approximately two minutes remaining, giving rise to the meme above. Actually, it doesn’t matter. Win or lose, there will be memes.


GOOD: Amon-Ra St. Brown’s performance at running back. He had only a few carries, but made them all worthwhile. His vision for hitting the gap particularly stood out.

GOOD: Kenan Christon and Drake London quickly recovering fumbles that probably would’ve otherwise been the back-breaking difference maker in this game.

BAD: First missed field goal of the season

BAD: Plenty of plays could have been stopped for a loss or minimal gain if the defense had properly tackled. This continues to fall on Helton for not practicing/fixing something so fundamental to the game.

BAD: Misplaced pass that ended in an interception.

GOOD: The receivers made tough catches to keep the game alive.

CommBro  Breaker

Watch Helton defy the narrative and break a streak again next week—by losing a home game.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: USC goes back to losing the turnover battle this week

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: Colorado receiver, Lavis Shenault had more receiving yards (172 yards) than the entire USC running backs gained, even before accounting for lost rushing yardage (151 yards).

Illuminati Stat of the Week: The kickoff stats between the two teams are eerily similar. USC kicked off six times for 389 yards with 5 touchbacks. Colorado kicked off six times for 390 yards and 5 touchbacks.

USC vs. Arizona: Stonks Up

USC vs. Arizona (Homecoming)
October 19, 2019 at 6:40pm
Los Angeles, CA: 53,826 (of 77,500)
Total Time: 3 hours 17 minutes

My post is later than usual, but not because my clock management is as bad as Helton’s.

Nice guy, bad coach

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a home game, so it’s been a while since we’ve seen a win. The Trojans barely climb back above a .500 record and will go back on the road on a short week. Colorado still has never beaten USC, dating back to their first match in 1927. Hopefully that continue that 13-0 streak and end their 0-4 road loss streak going back to nearly a year ago (November 3, 2018 against Oregon State).

Somehow Helton even manages to make a blowout look unappealing. It took several turnovers from Arizona to move USC’s offense. The red zone struggles showed up again, with several drives that ended without points or just field goals. Some of those drives started as turnovers just outside the red zone too.

Luckily, the defense managed to contain a mobile quarterback like Khalil Tate, which only happens every so often. They tallied up seven sacks. For comparison, they went into the game with 14 sacks in the past six games. Arizona only had one drive enter USC territory in the first half. Tate’s inability to get the offense going led to Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin benching him going into the second half. That quickly progressed into Kana’i Mauga’s interception off the of true freshman replacement, Grant Gunnell. Not bad for a secondary and defensive line stacked with injuries.

This game did no favors on the injury front, with all three running backs in the regular rotation now hurt. Former walk-on Quincy Jountti and true freshman Kenan Christon got playing time


GOOD: Kenan Christon with great speed, allowing him to sprint for 103 yards and two touchdowns off 8 carries. He led the team in rushing yards despite making a late entry.

GOOD: Michael Pittman fighting his way through defenders into the end zone for USC’s first touchdown of the night.

GOOD: The deep pass from Slovis to Pittman early in the second half.

GOOD: Kana’i Mauga made the most tackles (13) on the team for the night, including a sack, two tackles for loss, and an interception. He only had 8 tackles on the season going into the game and totaled 14 tackles all of 2018.

GOOD: A somewhat decently officiated game by the Pac-12.

BAD: USC still managed to rack up 10 penalties for 100 yards.

BAD: Seven of USC’s 14 meaningful drives went for less than 10 yards.

CommBro Breaker

Currently, USC holds a shaky first place in the South due to holding the tiebreaker over Utah. Every South division team still has a shot to win it and the Trojans are only one bad week away from losing their top spot.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week: USC won the turnover battle for the first time since the 2018 home opener against UNLV. In their defense, they’ve tied several times. Just kidding, it’s still pathetic.

Uplifting Stat of the Week: Arizona averaged negative yardage on their punt returns

Misleading Quote of the Week: Remember when long snapper Damon Jonhson was recruited and Helton said that “hopefully…you won’t hear his name again”? Well, I’m glad we actually heard it again. Johnson exhibited a quick reaction time to recover the early fumble.

USC vs. Notre Dame: Zero

#9 Notre Dame vs. USC
October 12, 2019 at 4:42pm
Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN: 77,622 (of 77,622)
Total Time: 3 hours 16 minutes

ZERO road wins. This Helton guy is almost like clockwork when it comes to the home-away dichotomy. But at least there were also zero turnovers! The referees almost errantly gifted one to Notre Dame by pointing in the wrong direction, but that doesn’t count.

Weird (read as “bad”) officiating led to some strange outcomes, like ND head coach Brian Kelly running 3 or 4 yards onto the field in his natural yelling form during the onside kick without any sort of penalty. He was still there after the play had started. Remember when Talanoa Hufanga jumped in celebration and landed onto the field after a play was over and was penalized? Seems fair.

Notre Dame Stadium also can’t seem to escape goal line controversies. After the officials decided to grant USC an extra down due to their own error, a running back was pushed into the endzone. Much like a mid-October South Bend game in 2005, the officials had to give USC an extra play after realizing Matt Leinart actually fumbled out-of-bounds. The following play was the famous (or infamous) Bush Push. Bush Push, meet the Stepp Step.


There was also talk of a bad roughing the passer call and some missed PIs. Yup, all that sucks, but it would have been a bigger deal if anyone still cared about Helton being able to do something with this season and his career at USC. The Trojans scored 8x as many points in the second half than in the first half. By golly, those Trojans will get them all in the third half.


GOOD: Slovis recovering from his poor BYU performance and showing better decision-making even against drop eight coverages.

GOOD: Perfect throw and catch from Slovis to Amon-Ra St. Brown to give USC its first touchdown of the game. And again when Slovis was hit as he threw to St. Brown late in the fourth quarter to set up a score.

GOOD: Tyler Vaughns making some tough catches to keep the first downs rolling.

GOOD: Markese Stepp racked up plenty of yards after contact and should probably be getting extra playtime/carries. On one play, he ran for an impressive 19 yards, 15 of which had half the Notre Dame team trying to tackle him.

BAD: Speaking of failed tackling, USC still had too many defenders sliding off Notre Dame players after making contact.

BAD: The bad tackling and failure to set the edge allow Notre Dame to amass a total of 308 yards rushing.

BAD: Other than field goals, the team continues to disappoint on special teams. The punts went a little further this time, but too many were sailing into the endzone.

GOOD(ish): Only 2 penalties for 20 yards, which includes the ridiculous 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. ND had declined several penalties, though, which isn’t reflected in that stat line. Still, impressive for the Trojans to get through a game—especially a sold out away game—without a false start penalty.

GOOD/BAD: There was some great cornerback play at times, but in the end, too many of them got injured to provide consistent coverage.

CommBro Breaker

Halfway through the season, Helton sits at a perfect 3-3. Three home wins, three road losses. Does he realize that he shouldn’t be shooting for Thanos level goals?

A decent coach with this roster would likely be 5-1 or 6-0 and bowl eligible already, but 4-2 at worst. At that point, their only decent chance at losing is against Oregon. For Helton, I’m predicting losses against Oregon and ASU, with rough games against Colorado and Cal to limp to my originally predicted 8-5 ending.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: Slovis has lost 27-30 after throwing two touchdown passes on the road against a non-conference team twice this season. Games are fixed!!

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: USC ranks 90th in red zone conversion rate (78.26%) compared to #1 Notre Dame’s 100%. Even more disappointing is USC’s touchdown percentage of 56.52% (for reference, ND has 85.36%). That means they score a touchdown about half the time they’re at 20 or less yards to go.

Uplifting Stat of the Week: Kedon Slovis still ranks 4th in the nation in completion percentage (75%)…still above Alabama’s Tua Tagovailova.

USC vs. UW: Types of Headaches

#17 Washington vs. #21 USC
September 29, 2019 at 12:40pm
Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA: 66,975 (70,183)
Total Time: 3 hours 14 minutes

Clay Helton has proven his abilities yet again. USC plummets out of the rankings and down several statistical categories in yet another road loss. As predicted last week, Washington’s defensive backs took advantage of risky passes from Fink and turned it into three interceptions. The Huskies opted for a similar defensive strategy as BYU, with a plethora of drop eight. Like two weeks ago, the team was unprepared and had few answers as they fell behind by as much as three touchdowns. Despite receiving several breaks throughout the game, they failed to produce a competitive result.

Although USC’s 212 rush yards appear to illustrate a strong run game, nearly half of those yards were the result of two runs—neither of which ended in scoring drives. One of those drives ended in an interception and the other with a failed fourth down attempt. With Helton’s level of preparation, all the upcoming bye week will really do is give time for injured players to heal.

The postgame press conference and subsequent statements to the press on Sunday and Monday demonstrated Helton’s cookie cutter responses about “eliminating mistakes” and just how close they were to doing something special. You’ve been here three and a half years, dude. How can he keep saying the same things year and year and loss after loss? If he hasn’t fixed it now, he won’t be able to fix it anytime soon.


GOOD: Fink’s deep pass to Michael Pittman

BAD LUCK?: A lucky bounce for Washington as they scored off their own fumble in the end zone

BAD: This one is on the Pac-12 officials. Talanoa Hufanga’s celebration penalty was a result of him starting a side bump celebration from the sidelines, with the jump landing him just barely onto the field. Was something that barely qualifies as a violation really egregious enough for 15 yards?

BAD: 163 passing yards.

CommBro Breaker

It’s getting difficult to generate content. Such uninspired games beget uninspired posts. As one of my instructors used to say, at least mess up on something new—then at least we know you’re working on it. Helton-coached teams continue to display the same issues without much sign of improvement. I can only make so many new jokes out of the same material.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: For yet another away game, the attendance is higher than any home game at the Coliseum since 2017 despite having larger stadiums than most of them.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: As touched upon earlier, USC has abysmal stats in the turnover category. Almost everything ranks below 120. Overall margin is at 124 (-7), average margin per game is 121 (-1.4/game), and total lost is three away from the bottom at 127 of 130 (13 lost).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: USC is rank 110 in average opponent kickoff returns (24.42 yards).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #4-6: Rankings for Opponent Long Scrimmage Plays:

  • #106 in 10+ yards (74)
  • #92 in 30+ yards (11)
  • #108 (of 108) in 80+ yards (1)

That means 107 teams have not allowed a play longer than 80 or more yards on defense and the Trojans are not among them. USC is in league with teams like Charlotte, Louisiana-Monroe, Troy, UMass, and Western Kentucky for that distinction.

Uplifting Stats of the Week: While lots of statistical categories suck, here are a few that don’t:

  • #23 in Sacks (13)
  • #24 in Passes Defended (25)
  • #14 in Passes Broken Up (23)
  • #1 in Field Goal Percentage (4 of 4)

Misleading Stat of the Week: As Helton claims, USC can still win out, get a Pac-12 championship and even a Rose Bowl/NY6 bowl berth. Even if he defied all odds and managed to do that, one can clearly tell he is underachieving by watching the games. It also won’t erase the memories of last season: the first losing season in 18 years and losses to both rivals. I guess it’s a stretch to call this a statistic though. Does that make me as misleading as Helton?

USC vs. Utah: Fink and Dunk

USC vs. #10 Utah
September 20, 2019 at 6:06pm
Los Angeles, CA: 55,719 (of 77,500)
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

Great news guys. This week, we got an exclusive interview with head coach Clay Helton. Please see below for the Q&A.

Helton, can you stop losing in time of possession?

Can you stop getting 10+ penalties in a game?

We continued to ask loaded questions and were met with the same responses until Tim Tessalone figured out we were only there for the buffet. I kid. One day, we may get some real press credentials. Until then, there are always memes…

The season began with starting quarterback, JT Daniels, getting injured in the first half. Two games later, Kedon Slovis gets injured in the first series and, just like that, USC is down to their third string quarterback. It’s comforting to know that the team has three viable quarterbacks, but it draws attention to the wealth of talent that has been wasted under head coach Clay Helton. Also, dropping down to the third string quarterback for the second time in two years is troubling. Interestingly enough, watching the backup’s backup wasn’t the low point of the game.

We were able to live about 10 peaceful minutes until first penalty—then the mouth of hell opened up into true Pac-12 night form, vomiting out 27 total penalties for 237 yards. Surprisingly, the game did not take four hours to be completed. Speaking of unnecessary penalties…

Reggie Bush made his first appearance back at the Coliseum and, as you can imagine, it caused some trouble. After Markese Stepp scored on a touchdown run, a Pac-12 official tried to physically impede Stepp from getting a high five from Bush. After the official failed to restrain a 235-pound individual in his prime, the official decided it was worth a 15-yard penalty. It’s a good thing we have the Pac-12 and NCAA to protect the weak hearts and minds of susceptible young players from the likes of celebratory gestures with former football players that most certainly “did not” attend or play at USC. Had Stepp gotten a handshake from the poor, out of place commentator Rob Stone, would the Pac-12 have given him a penalty for that?

If you ever feel out of place, think of Rob Stone on this night and be comforted

We can all see that vacating wins, championships, awards, and disassociation of players does jack squat. This farcical attempt at pretending Bush never played at USC leaves everyone in a weird spot. Why does one feel compelled to prevent a player from high fiving Random Fox Sports Analyst #2? Bush wasn’t the only analyst drawing interest though. Who could forget Brady Quinn in that panel? Just kidding. Hope he continues to enjoy to hanging out with Bush and Leinart on set every day. Anyway, former Ohio State head coach, Urban Meyer, also drew some chants from the crowd.

Whether or not you like him as a person, few can deny that Urban Meyer is a good coach. However, could someone like him really end up as USC head coach? According to our top sports superstition experts here in the City of Angles lab, yes, he will be. Remember that 2014 Ohio State season when they won the national championship? Meyer went from QB Braxton Miller to Cardale Jones and eventually to JT Barrett. He used his third string quarterback to beat Alabama in a playoff game. Since we also have three decent quarterbacks and will be opening against Alabama next season, Urban confirmed. Dream on.

In reality, we still have Clay Helton until he is officially removed from his position. Who the heck calls a timeout right after a change in possession? The clock gets stopped for that anyway. He seems like the kind of person that tries to calls out sick when on a federal holiday. Helton, can you stop wasting timeouts?

I don’t even need a caption anymore


GOOD: A blocked field goal after a penalty negated a blocked field goal.

BAD: Apparently, a wayward white board caused an injury.

GOOD: A goal line stand that was capped off by Isaiah Pola-Mao’s tackle for a loss. That tackle prevented Utah from taking the lead early in the fourth quarter.

BAD: The team did not make it into positive rush yards until the fourth quarter. Even then, it was a net of 28 after accounting for the kneels…less than 0.7 yards per carry.

GOOD: Always good to see a safety. It turned out to be a crucial play. True freshman Drake Jackson continues to be a difference maker on the defensive line.

BAD: The average starting field position was at their own 22-yard line. The best return was only to their own 34. With how things have been going, it’s really not worth returning with the ball security issues in mind. Their best is only 9 more yards than a touchback.

GOOD: Michael Pittman’s hard-earned 232 receiving yards.

BAD: A four minute, 8-play Utah drive following a USC fumble that featured five combined penalties

GOOD: The USC offense baited another team into an offsides penalty.

GOOD: Fink finishing with 21 of 30 (70%), 351 yards, and 3 TDs.

BAD: Not tackling in practice is still showing.

CommBro Breaker

While everyone might be praising the Fink and Dunk football, Fink’s style seems to rely an uncomfortable amount of receivers winning jumps to move the offense. I know I said dunk, but save the jump balls for basketball.

Furthermore, Utah was ranked too highly when USC played them—just like Stanford was. Utah also does not have the DB talent to defend against receivers like Pittman. This could be a problem at Washington, especially given that Helton does not get his team ready to play away. It may be a rough one with a few interceptions.

Ridiculous/Misleading Stat of the Week #1: USC got nearly 10 times more yards (120) from Utah penalties than they did rushing (13).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: Speaking of rush yards…somehow, Stephen Carr finished the game with -16 rushing yards. That’s more yards lost than the QB kneeling three times at the end of the game (-15).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: USC is 113th in the nation in penalty yards per game (72.3). 117th

Misleading Stat of the Week #2: 100% of USC’s conference opponents have been ranked. That’s only two out of two, but will become three out of three next week.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #4: The Trojans are 117th in the nation in turnover margin per game (-1.25), 118th in total turnover margin (-5), and 125th in total lost (10). #yikes