USC vs. Colorado: Statistical Anomaly

USC vs. Colorado
October 13, 2018 at 7:45pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 57,615 (of 78,467)
Total Time: 3 hours 42 minutes

Two SCents: 

#19AP/#18Coaches Colorado entered this game undefeated (5-0, 2-0 conf.) against a USC team that hasn’t lost to CU from the times of Howard Jones to the present and decided to put up a performance in recognition of that. The Trojan would’ve looked just as bad if not for some heroic catches by Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns.

CommBro Breaker/Bonus SCents:

Newcomer Palaie Gaoteote played well at linebacker in the absence of Cam Smith. The defensive back play as also fun to watch in the fourth quarter. There were more break ups there than the summer after a high school graduation.

It was also great to see Matt Barkley out there launching some shirts into the crowd with the cannon.

Professional level photo quality

The 13 penalties for 123 yards is bad, but the officials’ management of the game was worse. Dragging out a 7:30pm game to nearly four hours with unnecessary, ticky-tack penalties sucked lots of the enjoyment out of the game. Rumor is that Colorado didn’t even know they had scored the touchdown when they went for that inexplicable two point conversion. You’d think they’d tried to clean things up after the recent scandals.

Special teams also crapped out another mess.

Basically the entire game was some of statistical mess, so buckle up for the ridiculous stats of the week.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #1: USC had ZERO rushing yards at the end of the first half.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: JT Daniels’ 50% completion rate for 272 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. While the final stat line is acceptable for a true freshman starting his first season, the breakdown reveals a problem with the entire offense, especially in context of the rushing yard stats.

Quarter Passing Yards % of total passing yards
1st quarter 43 15.80%
2nd quarter 212 77.90%
3rd quarter 10 3.70%
4th quarter 7 2.60%

The second half passing yards (17) were less than 50% of the first quarter passing yards (43). That means almost all of his passing yards were a product of the second quarter. That’s 212 passing yards within those 15 minutes (77.9%), and basically nothing much else. You might say that this doesn’t include the two major drops that would’ve resulted in big plays/touchdowns, but that means this offense has an overreliance on explosive plays much like Sark’s offenses did. Clay Helton and his offensive coordinator continue to disappoint.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: USC has been on the losing end of the time of possession stat for the fifth straight game. The last time they had a higher TOP was against UNLV.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #4: Three home games in, USC attendance has hit a 10+ year low. Both the average (56,248) and peak attendance (58,708, vs. UNLV) are lower than USC’s previous 10 year low of 60,314 (vs. Oregon State, 2017). Bad football and ongoing renovations seem to be taking their toll on attendance.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #5: Colorado finished the third quarter with less rushing yards than the end of the second quarter. I guess neither team could really run in this one. Other than allowing a few fluky plays, Pendergast called a pretty good game.

 

 

USC vs. Arizona: Goal Line Torture

Arizona vs. USC
September 29, 2018 at 7:35pm
Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ: 43,573 (55,675)
Total Time: 3 hours 26 minutes

Two SCents: Ridiculous Stats of the Week:

Games against the Arizona schools always bring out the strangest occurrences. Things like the Kiffin’s firing after a particularly bad ASU loss (this game was played on the 5 year anniversary of that event), weird timeout scenarios in Tucson, or the time they had to drag everyone out of the locker room to kick a field goal. There are plenty of other examples in the past several years, but I’m already way past two sentences. My point is, this game is no exception to the peculiarity, but this game is an exception to 2018’s two sentence rule.

A win is a win” is how the saying goes, but it’s starting to not feel that way. The ridiculous stat of the week section could not encompass all the ridiculousness that transpired, so this entire section has been hijacked for it.

Let’s start with the 25 minute scoring drought. Can’t win games if you can’t score and they spent half of it not scoring. The 24-0 lead got cut down to a 24-20 lead. It still took recovering an onside kick to preserve the win. Maybe scoring isn’t the best indicator, though, since that can be a bit difficult. What about third downs?

The Trojans finished the game going 5 of 16 on third down conversions after starting 3 of 4. From the moment they scored their first touchdown with 5:52 left in the first quarter, they did not convert another third down until there was 10:06 remaining in the fourth quarter. That’s nearly 40 minutes of game time without any third down conversions. This isn’t a cherry-picked stat. It’s not like an all-powerful USC offense managed to get first downs or score before even getting to third down.

Throw in some more bad snaps and three fumbles (two in back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter) and we’ve got ourselves some drama. That’s 11 fumbles on the season—averaging more than two per game. Here are how the last 6 meaningful drives went: punt, punt (3-and-out), punt (3-and-out), fumble, fumble, turnover on downs. And by last 6, I meant basically half of the Trojan’s drives (14).

Next up for criticism are the 18 penatlies for 169 yards. To put it in perspective, 40% of this season’s penalties came from this game. It is also at least a 11-year record high of penalties in single game. I didn’t have time to crawl back further than 2008, so it’s probably worse than that. That was all showcased in Arizona’s final scoring drive.

Who was feeling more pain during that goal line stand, I wonder? Helton had to be seething inside from all the penalties that brought the Wildcats to like the one inch line. On the other side, Sumlin was probably bristling that it took them a 4th and goal after countless plays to punch it in when the distance was about the length of one of their synthetic blades of grass.

There were 11 plays in the red zone, 8 of which were in a goal-to-go situation. Don’t forget about the 3 penalties near the end zone and four total in the 12 play drive. Officially, that got logged as an 8-play drive, since penalties don’t count as plays. All that to end in a missed PAT.

Imagine if you had no idea what was going on, you kept screwing up, going in the wrong direction, and when you finally get what you need to done, you still have no idea how to accomplish it next time. You just go home feeling like you wasted your entire day. Basically, a visit to the DMV. Oh, and probably what the coaching staff feels like.

Taken at a local USC watch party

CommBro Breaker

I may have spent 90% of the words writing about negative things, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t positives! Running for 253 yards in a game is an achievement for any team, but definitely for this team. That’s more rushing yards than their last three games combined! It was also the first time someone on the team had a 100-yard rushing performance since week one against UNLV. Both were as a result of Aca’Cedric Ware (10-100 vs. UNLV and 21-173 vs. AZ).

The USC defense also snagged its first interception of the season off of Marvell Tell’s efforts in the second quarter. Tell also managed to block the field goal attempt at the end of the second half.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week: Couldn’t help but sneak one more of these into the mix. USC is rank 122 of 129 in percentage of fourth down conversions allowed (77.78%).

 

USC vs. WSU: Home Win Streak Continues (Barely)

USC vs. Washington State
September 21, 2018 at 7:35pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 52,421 (of 78,467)
Total Time: 3 hours 27 minutes

Two SCents

It’s great for USC to win in a dramatic fashion and claw their way back up to a .500 record, but don’t let a win cloud all glaring flaws. The number of bad snaps and messy handoffs were astounding—those are things that shouldn’t happen more than once every several games.

CommBro Breaker

The Trojans also depended too much on the referees. SEVEN first down from penalties, which accounts for almost one third (30.4%) of their total first downs. On the other side, the defense allowed the Cougars converted 100% of their first downs (3 of 3).

However, the D did adjust during the half, going from 2 or 3 pass rushers in a nickel formation to more blitzes. That slowed Wazzu’s passing offense down enough to squeeze out the win. The offensive coaching staff still need to get their crap together

J.T. Daniels passed better this game and the  receivers also made some fantastic, body-contorting catches.

Lastly, being able to come back from down 10 to win a game is a step in the right direction. One could argue, though, that they never should have been down 10 in the first place.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week: USC lost as many rush yards (-53) as Washington State’s top rusher ran for (54). Of those 53 lost yards, 17 came from one miscue.

P.S. A few weeks ago I said I’d tried to confirm the maximum capacity of the Coliseum. It is 78,467. You’re welcome.

USC vs. Texas: Losing Streak in TX Continues

Texas vs. USC
September 15, 2018 at 5:21pm
Darrell K Royal—Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX: 103,507 (of 100,119)
Total Time: 3 hours 37 minutes

Two SCents

Some games can’t be told by the stat line, but this one sure could. Negative 5 overall rush yards, allowing a 34-point scoring run, blocked field goal being returned for a TD, a freshman QB being forced to throw nearly 50 times in the game, 10 penalties for 99 yards, a drive stalling out at the Texas 3-yard line and averaging drives of 5.41 plays and 26 yards (including two drives with a net loss). Now that I’ve squeezed one sentence for all it’s worth, I’m wasting the second one, just like the Trojans wasted a game.

CommBro Breaker

I can’t give you all bad things, though it mostly was. The Trojans were playing decently until the bad review on the potential safety. Not only did they miss out on 2 points, but possession of the ball.

The series still sits at 5-2, dating back to 1955. That’s including the loss in the 2006 BCS national championship game that USC Sports Information office doesn’t admit.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week: USC did not score for over 45 minutes.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: The -5 overall rush yards look bad, but when removing all lost yards from tackles for loss and sacks from the equation, it isn’t better at all. The Longhorns scored as many points as USC had in positive rush yards (37).

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #3: The Trojans have not won in the state of Texas since September of 1996 when they beat Houston 26-9 in a non-conference game. That was six head coaches ago.

Texas 2018 (non-conference): 14-37
Ohio State 2017 (Cotton Bowl: 7-24
Alabama 2016 (Advocare Classic): 6-52
Georgia Tech 2012 (Sun Bowl): 7-21
TCU 1998 (Sun Bowl): 19-28

USC vs. Stanford: Familiar Terror-tory

Stanford vs. USC
September 8, 2018 at 5:45pm
Stanford Stadium, Palto Alto, CA: 42,586
Total Time: 3 hours 13 minutes

If you’re wondering what that cursed image is, it’s a sculpture representing my facial expression during this entire game. It also happens to be actual “art” sitting on Stanford’s campus.

Two SCents

Despite repeatedly allowing tight end seam routes to pick up large chunks of yardage, the defense did enough to expect a win. The run offense managed decently (with over 4 yards per carry when not counting the 4 sacks allowed), but the sub 50% completion percentage constantly caused drives to sputter out.

CommBro Breaker

Falling behind early meant more passing. More passing meant moving away from a run game that was working towards a passing game that wasn’t. This game is enough to move my evaluation of Helton from “meh, but we’ll see” to a definitive “we need better.” If you believe differently, feel free to interject. At least they played a pretty clean game from a penalty perspective (4 for 35 yards)

Ridiculous Stat of the Week: 0 sacks of KJ Costello. Somehow they got away with that.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week #2: USC had as many turnovers as points

USC vs. UNLV: Still Alive

USC vs. University of Nevada, Las Vegas
September 1, 2018 at 1:07pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 58,708
Total Time: 3 hours 17 minutes

Hi everyone,

I’m still alive.

Sincerely,

commbro

I somehow stumbled my way through the first year of graduate school while maintaining this barely functional blog. Round two has just started and I’ll try to keep it going. However, I will be altering the format again.

Switching the letters around for Vader makes him a lot less menacing. Daver sounds like a nickname for your suburban friend

The new format will consist of about two sentences a post (or approximately, give or take 50 sentences). That may seem ridiculously short, but bear with it for one more year. I will be back full force next season.

I shall dub this the “Two SCents” format because it’s my “two cents” and it’s two sent(ences). Or maybe it means “Two Scents” for how much this format stinks. Either way I am staying true to this blog’s punny history.

Two SCents

True freshman J.T. Daniels makes a shaky first start but shows high potential for his career. The offensive line appears to be the most improved unit of the team as they are no longer committing false starts reguarly and eliminating low/high snaps—perhaps the effect of Tim Drevno’s return…even though he’s technically the running backs coach?

CommBro Breaker

9 yard punt from the USC 46-yard line is sad.

Congrats to Chase McGrath for making a record-tying 5 field goals in a single game.

The home winning streak continues at 17.

Lastly, I still don’t like the renovation. I also can’t find out the exact max capacity with it half finished, but I have heard about 80,000. I’ll try to get a confirmation on that.

Ridiculous Stat of the Week: Aca’cedric Ware’s stat line is so perfect, it reads like he’s coding in binary.

Games Played Attempts Yards Touchdowns YPC YPG
1 10 100 1 10 100

I did you all a favor and translated it into binary. It comes out to: Ó

oh…

Maybe he wasn’t trying to code. Ó_Ó

2017 Cotton Bowl: The Arlington Trojan Cemetery

#5 Ohio State vs. #8 USC (82nd Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic)
December 29, 2017 at 7:40 pm
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas: 65,710
Total Time: 3 hours 36 minutes

In another year, this would’ve been a typical Rose Bowl matchup of Pac-12 and Big Ten champs. It also could’ve been a reasonable drive over to Glendale, Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl. Instead we got the Jerry Jones Special Edition because Ohio State went to the Fiesta twice in the past two seasons.

Still, it should have been an epic showdown of historic proportions, but turnovers and stout defenses pitched a completely scoreless second half of futility. The coaching on the offensive side failed the team.

Don’t get me wrong. Winning the conference is no small achievement. Getting 11 wins in a season isn’t something to scoff at. Only 14 of the 130 FBS teams managed to win 11 or more games. Statistically, that’s less than the percentage of people that get accepted into Duke every year.

However, I present you a different angle. Buying a house is no small achievement either. Certainly one should be commended for having the discipline and commitment to save up for a nice home. But imagine Helton and his staff went out with $10 million dollars but bought a 2000 sq. ft. condo in LA. That’s not as impressive anymore. It’s actually kind of disappointing.

So Clay didn’t make it to the playoff his second full year as a head coach. Fine, even Pete Carroll dropped a game or two most seasons. No BCS national championship/CFB Playoff isn’t the end of the world. He made it to the Cotton Bowl against an equally talented opponent…then proceeded to showcase an unprepared offense after nearly a month of preparation.

Does this mean Clay Helton should be fired? That’s a big time no from me. He definitely needs to reevaluate the staff and make necessary changes, most of which are on offense. The Trojans were basically living in the red zone and failed to score all but one time. Their only score came from a fumble at the OSU 15 yard line.

The story of the game can be seen in a single stat line. OSU points off of turnovers: 21. The defense deserves credit for holding Ohio State’s top 10 offense to a crawl. They allowed only 3 points in the first half when turnovers weren’t involved and an unconditional zero points in the second half.

Had a game manager approach at QB been taken, the score could’ve been 7-3. Wipe off all of the turnovers and it’s still 0-3 with plenty of opportunities to win. If they turned the ball over on one less drive and managed to scored a touchdown instead, that’s a 14-17 game. Basically, if they had any more ball security and this would’ve been a much closer game.

You can blame Sam Darnold if you want. He’s been doing the same thing all season: consistently turning the ball over. Of the 14 games, he’s turned over the ball in 12 games and multiple times in 8 games. His 9 fumbles lost and 13 interceptions make for 22 total turnovers. To put that in perspective, as an individual player, he accounts for as many or more turnovers than 101 FBS teams. He also missed some easier passes that led to the offense stalling out. He played his part in the dormant offense, but coaching did him no favors.

The first thing I want to bring attention to is the play calling. As painful as it can be, one of their options is to play Seahawks ball. Run first and only throw when necessary. Punt to pin the opponent deep in their own territory, allowing the defense lots of room to work. It’s not the flashiest way to win (and they have their own offensive coordinator and OL problems themselves), but they win many games against tough opponents. The offense focuses on playing safe and avoiding turnovers and the defense keeps them in the game.

OR

If you want to throw and your QB keeps getting sacked, how about trying some screen passes? Move the pocket, try something. I only saw a few roll out passes and only remember one screen pass.

AND

Misuse of the clock even when there was a reasonable chance to win the game. They didn’t run plays towards the sideline so that continued to drain the clock. They played slow despite being no huddle. One of the worst offenses was draining the last 30 seconds of the third quarter for no reason. They could have run a few more plays before the fourth.

USC has played 6 times against opponents that were ranked at the time. They went 3-3, with 2 lost in embarrassing fashion. Only one was in the top 10.

WON
Stanford #14
Arizona #22
Stanford #12

LOST
Washington State #16
Notre Dame #13
Ohio State #5

Urban Meyer, quite likely a future hall of fame coach, may not have had his best game or season, but went 4-1, including four top 10 opponents. His team’s loss was to by two possessions to a playoff team.

WON
Penn State #2
Michigan State #13
Wisconsin #4
USC #8

LOST
Oklahoma #5

If Ohio State and USC traded head coaches, keeping everything else the same, do you think USC would lose?

One thing’s for sure: I’m not going back to Arlington, TX anytime soon.

GOOD/BADISMS

GOOD: Defense. I’ve said my piece about them.

BAD: Offense. Four total turnovers, didn’t score on 93% of drives, 8 sacks allowed, and 1 of 4 in the red zone. Despite throwing for 356 yards, Darnold didn’t even have 60% completion percentage and couldn’t make some pivotal plays. In fact, he was barely at 50% completion going into the fourth quarter. Tight end blocking was weak. When have you seen an offense with 413 yards, 23 first downs and only 7 points?

BAD: Special Teams. Outside of the muffed punt recovery, the special teams didn’t do well. Punts were short, a short field goal bounced off the uprights, and kickoff returns were bad.

BAD: The pointless scuffle at the end.

GOOD?: Hopefully the nature of this loss compounded with the same struggles throughout the season gets Clay to make some personnel moves. With the addition of an assistant coaching spot and the departure of Tyson, there are two slots to fill even without any terminations. We could potentially be seeing a very different team next year.

CommBro Breaker

I can’t leave you all with mostly bad things, so I’ll find some of the silver linings for you.

This is only the 14th 11-win season in all of USC football history and the first since 2008. Thirty years from now, people who didn’t watch these games will look at this on a list of hundreds of seasons and consider it to be a fairly successful season. You can look forward to telling your grandchildren about how the team squandered their talent by slightly underachieving.

We can also end the debate about whether or not Tyson was the one holding the offense back with play calling. He already left for Tennessee so the culprit(s) remain on staff. I mean, I guess he could have been part of the problem, but he’s certainly not the sole issue.

While the Big Ten had a historic bowl run, the perfection was ended by Michigan. That’s a good thing, not because it prevented a undefeated conference record but because everyone gets bloomin’ onions instead of…coconut shrimp.

NSFW?…NSFL?

Depressing Stat of the Week #1: The USC offense allowed 8 sacks in this game. The 2011 USC offense allowed 8 sacks in the season.

Depressing Stat of the Week #1 Part 2: In an anomaly, Ronald Jones has more rush yards (64) than the USC team (57). His net rush yards are offset by all lost rush yards from sacks and tackles for loss.

Mixed Feelings Stat of the Season #1: USC has the #5 red zone defense. They also have the #121 red zone offense. That 116 rank difference is the largest of any team.

Mixed Feelings Stat of the Season #2: As if you needed anymore statistical evidence of the defense carrying the offense, the defense is #22 in the nation with 25 takeaways. USC is rank #121 in turnovers with 27 lost.

2017 Pac-12 Championship Game

USC vs. Stanford
December 1, 2017 at 5:05pm
Levi’s Stadium: 48,031
Total Time: 3 hours 33 minutes

Typically, re-runs on TV aren’t very good. The rematch between USC and Stanford in 2017 was also a repeat of the 2015 Pac-12 championship game. Both results this season turned out better than that 2015 championship game, so maybe re-runs aren’t all bad.

USC’s victory last night won them their first conference championship since 2008 and the first since the expansion to twelve teams. What’s even crazier is that USC had to show the entire South division how it’s done. Despite all the South teams except Utah having an appearance, none of them have been able to unseat a North school. USC would also have the most Pac-12 South titles if that fake-o South title wasn’t awarded to UCLA back in ’11.

Speaking of all things 11, it is also USC’s first time having 11 or more wins since their NCAA record 7 straight 11+ win seasons spanning from 2002 to 2008 (a record that Alabama tied this season and can likely break next season). Winning that many games is no strange thing for USC.

Where it gets curious is that USC being at 11 wins with a Pac-12 championship and not cracking the top 7. Both Wisconsin and 3-loss Auburn get placed above the Trojans? Even though this was ultimately up to the CFP committee to decide, I feel that the Pac-12 conference has to take the blame on this. So begins my rant.

Now, if you don’t like my rants, you can skip ahead to the Doge to read the game summary. Otherwise, you can to enjoy the ensuing tirade.

The Pac-12 has the clowniest commissioner in the Power 5—and quite possibly all of the FBS (I don’t know the G5 commissioners at all so I can’t comment on them). The Pac-12 referees have been immortalized in dank memery with things like the Glasses Ref twitter. The conference has been left out of the playoff twice in four years and gets trashed in the first round even when they haven’t.

When asked “If you have to prioritize between a playoff game and parity, how would you do that?,” Larry responded saying if he couldn’t have both, he would favor parity over the playoff because he thinks that’s a better sign of conference health. Unsurprisingly, Scott likes his parity artificially inflated and forced. He accomplishes it by having things like:

  • Week night games (Thursday and Friday)
  • Late night starts (7:30pm-8pm PT start)
    • That means 8pm games end at about 2:30am ET. Many east coasters don’t stay up to watch it. Then they don’t vote for the Pac-12 teams in things like rankings, individual postseason awards, etc.
  • Late night, week night, road games (like USC-Cal 2016)
  • No bye weeks (like Arizona 2015, USC 2017)
  • Conference Championship on Friday nights at 5pm (5 of 7 have been on Friday)
    • People who have regular 9 to 5 jobs have to take time off work just to catch it on TV. Even worse if they actually want to make it to the stadium
    • 10,000 more people attended the last Pac-12 championships game featuring Stanford and USC. It was on a Saturday
  • Team going on road during short week (Saturday game followed Friday road game)
    • Pac-12 teams are 0-9 coming off of that situation over the past 2 years
  • Pac-12 Officials that routinely have half the conference in the bottom 10 of penalties per game.
  • Pac-12 Officials that basically cannot officiate most games without multiple controversies
  • 9 game conference schedule that gives half the teams an extra loss
    • It gives rise to talk like “USC only beat one team with more than 7 wins.” Yes, because the conference was busy cannibalizing itself.
    • The Big Ten and Pac-12 are left out of the playoffs for 2017. The Big Ten had just switched to match the Big 12 and Pac-12’s 9-game conference schedule
    • The Big 12 and Pac-12 have each missed the playoffs twice. They are the only ones to have used 9-game conference schedules through the whole playoff era
    • The ACC and SEC are the only two P5 conference that haven’t missed a playoff. They play 8 game schedules

That’s not even counting all the random weird stuff they do. Stuff like leaving USC out to dry when the unjust sanctions were handed out by the NCAA. Or their failure of a network that still isn’t on DirecTV and doesn’t generate nearly as much revenue as the other P5 conferences. I wonder if people from other parts of the countries look at the Pac and think they’re barely better than the WAC or MWC.

end rant

An elegant doge for a more civilized age. One where fools didn’t mouth off on the internet.

 

The result of the game was satisfying. This Stanford team was a better than the one SC destroyed in September. The K.J. Costello led offense fared much better than when Keller Chryst was at QB, but still couldn’t get seal the deal. It’s difficult to beat any team twice in one season, let alone one like Stanford, so congrats to Clay Helton and his team for the accomplishments this season.

Speaking of accomplishments, one of the features of these championship games is both schools displaying their famous alumni. Stanford listed famous alumni like…”Herbet” Hoover. Damn…as if the man’s name hasn’t been dragged through enough mud. That’s not nearly as embarrassing as their band though.

Much to the glee of USC fans (and probably some Stanford fans) the Leland Stanford Jr. University Marching Band’s annoying voice over got cut off—like their NY6 Bowl hopes.

GOOD/BADISMS

GOOD: Darnold was able to complete quite a few deep passes. That earned the respect of the opposing defenses, thus opening up more big runs. He also managed to have a zero turnover game.

GOODa: A red zone defense that managed to stop Stanford stone cold at their own game in a pivotal moment.

GOODb:The offense then answered with a 99-yard drive for a touchdown. They also had a separate 97-yard drive for a touchdown late in the second quarter.

GOOD: Calling a play from under center in a short yardage situation.

GOOD: The coaches didn’t force balance down the offense’s throat. They ran more than they passed (43 rush-24 pass) and it worked well. The team averaged a respectable 4.1 yards per carry.

GOOD: Ronald Jones gaining 140 yards on the ground. He was only tackled for a loss once the entire game. That afforded him an average of nearly 5 yards per carry.

GOOD: Tyler Vaughns somehow jukes immediately after a catch so often.

GOOD: Michael Pittman set a career high 146 receiving yards and bailed the offense out of some tough situations.

GOOD: Converting both fourth down attempts while stopping Stanford’s.

GOOD: Darnold was voted the MVP, but if I was personally deciding, I would’ve given it to Uchenna Nwosu. He was one of the most impactful players on the field.

CONFUSED: Stanford fumbled four times but managed to recover all of them.

BAD: Same old sloppy mistakes. We also got to see an uncommon handoff going wrong way.

BAD: DBs lacking discipline (turning to stare into the backfield, mistiming jumps, etc.) and allow large completions. GOOD: Iman Marshall played extremely well, as did Hawkins, but BAD: the rest had some trouble. The most memorable was allowing a 42-yard completion with 1 minute left in the 2nd half. The kicker was that the receiver was double-teamed with both DBs in position to bat the ball. It wasn’t even like Iman’s cursed bounce two weeks ago against UCLA.

GOOD: Having a lead as large as 10 in a tough game. Stanford also never once took the lead in the game. The best they did was tie it at 7-7.

GOOD: A 4th-and-2 with a big game on the line was converted to put the final nail in the Kiffin (sorry, I had to sneak that in). Does that ease some of the pain of a decade old 4th-and-2 call by the Kiff himself? All aboard the Lane Train? #CometothefaU? HAHA. Anyway, that was an impressive passing conversion when most teams would be inclined to run it.

CommBro Breaker

USC makes it to a Rose Bowl without being a champion in 2016. In 2017, they don’t go to the Rose Bowl as conference champion. The world is a weird place. See you at the Cotton Bowl?

Lottery Stats

On average, USC gets more than 1 penalty every 10 plays. That makes them 115th in the nation for that stat.

Running count of fourth down conversions: 10 of 24 (41.67%)

Running count of opponent fourth down conversions: 14 of 25 (56%)

USC vs. UCLA: New-fangled Angles

USC vs. UCLA
November 18, 2017 at 5:14 pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 82,407
Total Time: 3 hours 38 minutes

USC reached a three win streak against UCLA on Saturday night. That ties UCLA’s longest streak this century (misleading stat alert, since there have only been 18 games so far). This is the third such time USC attained a 3+ streak against UCLA in the same time span.

USC completes a second consecutive 10-win season…which ties UCLA’s all-time record for consecutive 10-win seasons. Yet the Bruins had the audacity to run out of the tunnel with a flag that said “Champions Made Here.” Congrats on your one national championship back in 1954. By the way, USC has more Rose Bowl wins than UCLA conference championships. USC has almost as many Rose Bowl appearances (34) as UCLA had of any bowl appearance (35). If the flag meant that champions are made at the Coliseum, then maybe they were on to something. I’ll stop rubbing it in now.

The win was great, but the process was not. The crosstown rivalry game was heavily penalized and the officials, once again, controlled the pace of the game. There were 23 penalties for a total of 215 yards (12-100 UCLA, 11-115 USC). Why does the Pac-12 want to make football unwatchable?

GOOD/BADISMS

BAD: Third down conversions on both sides of the ball. USC had a measly two third down conversions on ten attempts. On the other side, they allowed UCLA to convert over 50% with 10 of 19.

BAD: As per 2017 tradition, USC needed the special teams or defense to score first. Basically, the offenses tied for the first half at 7-7. Neither team scored in the second quarter.

GOOD: Pittman’s punt return touchdown was the difference maker for an inconsistent USC offense.

BAD: Perhaps the DBs should spend more time checking to see where was the ball was rather than whether LiAngelo Ball made it back from China. To be fair, Rosen was throwing really well, so it would’ve been tough no matter what. I really just wanted to make a ball joke.

GOOD: In one of the best plays of the game, a UCLA player managed to tackle his own teammate and incur a penalty in a single move. Impressive!

GOOD: Forcing two red zone turnovers. USC currently has the 4th best red zone defense in the nation.

BAD: Only rushing for 153 yards against a team that allowed an average of 302.3 rushing yards per game. I get that averages may not mean a whole lot, but being a whopping 50% of the average is astounding, especially when we have great running back talent. The Trojans had the lowest yards per carry against the Bruins all season. Our game actually helped them move up from last in rushing defense to second to last. Stats aren’t everything, but I think this shows an issue in game planning by the coaching staff.

SEMI-GOOD: Also, as good as Rosen was, the UCLA offense only scored 23 points. USC was allowing an average of 26.5 points per game before Saturday. That must mean Rosen is a below average quarterback right? Yes, that’s sarcasm.

COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE: Darnold’s interception on 4th-and-8 ended up being the same a punt going for a touchback.

BAD: More complaints about issues in short yardage situations.

BAD: Too many bad decisions that led to wasted scoring opportunities. In particular, wasting time outs early in the first half, compounded by some bad decisions in play calling and by Darnold, led to a drive dying at the 5-yard line as time expired. Even a field goal there would have been better than the nothing we got.

GOOD: Uchenna Nwosu is 14th in the nation for passes defended. He is only one of three linebackers in the top 100 and the only linebacker in the top 60.

GOOD: A great tackle by a great kicker, Reid Budrovich.

GOOD: Matt Lopes getting the stylish over-the-shoulder onside kick recovery to end his senior night. UCLA made a huge mistake there. They should’ve trusted USC’s offense—to fail—rather than making a risky onside kick play.

With that, we get to sit around for the “bye week” as we await the results of the Pac-12 North. The Trojans will face either Stanford or Washington State on another annoying Friday game. Stanford’s win eliminated Washington as a Pac-12 North contender due to the head-to-head record. The decision will be made from the annual Apple Cup. If Washington beats Washington State, Stanford will be USC’s opponent.

CommBro Breaker

We’ve got various media outlets reporting that the student section was chanting “one more year” at Darnold. I was in the student section and I heard none of that. Maybe I wasn’t close enough to the front? I will say that I was shouting “one more Tusk” and got a people to join in, so maybe they misheard us? I’ll take credit for bamboozling everyone.

Lottery Stats

Meaningless Stat of the Week: In the last 10 USC-UCLA rivalry games, USC has scored exactly 28 points five times. What does this mean? Illuminati. Always the Illuminati.

For only the second time in the past 10 season, USC has gotten under 20 first downs by penalty. The only other time was 2009, when it was 10. Currently, the Trojans have gotten 9. Meanwhile, opponent first downs by penalty remains a fairly reasonable number. USC is actually last in the nation in receiving first downs by penalty. Stats don’t tell the whole story, but maybe there is some merit to the officials being extra biased this season?

Running count of fourth down conversions: 8 of 22 (36.4%)

Running count of opponent fourth down conversions: 14 of 24 (58.3%)

USC vs. Colorado: See You in Santa Clara

Colorado vs. USC
November 11, 2017 at 1:05pm
Folsom Field, Boulder, CO: 49,337
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes

With the win against Colorado, USC has clinched the Pac-12 South for the second (third) time! USC previous won in 2015 then lost to Stanford in the championship game during Helton’s second interim stint. For those who remember, the Trojans also commandingly won the South in 2011, but the inagural championship game featured South runner-up UCLA and Oregon, both of whom USC beat in back-to-back weeks leading up to the this sham of a game.The Trojans have a good shot of being able to win the conference (if they can be consistent). It would be the first time in the Pac-12 era and the first since Pete Carroll left.

The Trojans will have a bye week leading up to the championship game, but probably won’t know their opponent until the regular season closes up on 11/25. Half of the north still have a shot to win it. Washington, Washington State, and Stanford could all conceivably face USC on December 1st.

GOOD/BADISMS

GOOD: Two of the younger receivers, Pittman and Vaughns, made a big impact this game.

BAD: The refs taking the time to review a first down early in the game. They then decided to change the call from the field afterwards. Even the commentators were unhappy with the process.

GOOD: The special teams unit impressively made two field goal blocks.

GOOD-BAD: The fumbling problem reared its ugly head again. Both Jack Jones and Sam Darnold fumbled, but managed to recover them instantly. It looked like they were trying a basketball dribble. Maybe they just wanted to commemorate USC basketball’s season-opening win against Cal State Fullerton.

GOOD-ISH: Ajene Harris’ second interception and attempted lateral could’ve been such a beautiful play had he gotten it out a split second earlier. Nonetheless, that was fun to watch.

BAD: Allowing a punt to be blocked, setting up an easy touchdown for Colorado.

BAD: The team is still unable to convert in short yardage situations. That leads directly to their low third down, fourth down, and red zone conversion numbers.

GOOD: John Houston’s touchdown-saving coverage reflexes in the end zone was quite impressive. Two plays later, he hit the CU QB for a 5 yard loss on fourth down to effectively end the game.

GOOD: Darnold had a third straight decent game.

GOOD: Ronald Jones had another great game. He has beat all his previous season rushing yard totals with three games to go (UCLA, Pac-12 CG, Bowl Game).

BAD: Missed field goal and PAT. Chase McGrath’s injury seems to be affecting him a lot.

BAD: Continued inability to close out games.

CommBro Breaker

RIVALRY WEEK IS THIS WEEK. CONQUEST AT 5PM ON THURSDAY.

BAD: Apparently they are enforcing the Coliseum clear bag policy at Conquest this year…………

Lottery Stats

USC remains undefeated against the Colorado Buffaloes. This win puts them at 12-0 all-time.

Weird stat of last week: I’m kicking myself for missing this last week (it’s okay though, because all the kicks got blocked anyway), but the I’ll chalk it up to an Illuminati cover up. Ronald Jones broke 1,000 yards after the game against Arizona, sitting exactly 1,082 yards. His 2016 season total was 1,082. NEED I SAY MORE?!

RoJo, why have you joined them?

Running count of fourth down conversions: 7 of 20 (35%)

Running count of opponent fourth down conversions: 13 of 23 (56.5%)