USC vs. UCLA: New-fangled Angles

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?


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: 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


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%)

USC vs. The Arizona Schools: Stranger Than Fan Fiction

CommBro Breaker

So you might have noticed that I missed a week. Something that hasn’t happened since I started this blog. My apologies to all my loyal readers. The busyness just caught up to me. But did you really need anything from me though? It seems the close of the first half of the ASU game was enough of a joke by itself. I can’t even write content as good as that. Still, I feel I owe y’all something.

October 28, 2017 at 7:51pm
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ: 53,446
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes


GOOD: Perfect throw and catch by Darnold to Deontay for the first touchdown. That’s the factor that’s been missing from the offense for most of the season.

BAD: One of the OL almost sacked his own QB.

CONFUSED: Darnold fumbed…but since it was on fourth down and immediately recovered…did it matter?

GOOD: Good use of RPOs and read options.

GOOD: Uchenna Nwosu shutting down an ASU drive, basically all by himself.

GOOD: McGrath making a career long 51 yard field goal.

GOOD: Tyler Vaughns smooth moves after the catch.

GOOD: Steven Mitchell’s box out block to spring Ronald Jones for a touchdown.

GOOD: Ronald Jones

CONFUSED: Extended first half. After the Hail Mary attempt by USC was ruled down at the 1, the officials signaled that time had expired. Both teams started to head to the locker room before they decided they should probably review it. By the time they changed their ruling, USC’s team was nowhere to be found. An angry Helton, made the officials go and grab his team. One lone referee made his way to the locker room…down the wrong tunnel. The SC players ran out of the other tunnel, doing the whole pump up routine probably to amuse themselves. The Pac-12 being the Pac-12 had to throw a flag on the ensuing PAT attempt.

/CommBro Breaker

USC vs. Arizona
November 4, 2017 at 7:51pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 70,225
Total Time: 3 hours 43 minutes

Now I’m finally back on track. I wish I could say the same about the Pac-12 conference. The already atrocious scheduling (like 12 straight games, Friday road trip after a road trip, two 7:45pm games in a row) was made so much worse by the officiating.

Remember how I commended Mark Duddy and his crew for what a great job they did in USC vs. Cal? I take it back x1000. Perhaps Mark Duddy read my blog and decided he wasn’t having any of that. I was ruining his good name amongst his fellow Pac-12 associates. He has a reputation to uphold, and gosh darn, those flags will be numerous and biased. He sure showed me.

It got to a point that students were throwing up yellow towels mockingly after every penalty. Flags were thrown for phantom penalties or ticky-tack in nature. What made it worse was that the refs would wait until seeing the outcome of the play before throwing the flag. The Trojans were called for 5 offensive holdings and 1 defensive holding. Arizona got called for 1 offensive holding…which was offset by a USC penalty. Seems suspicious. Putting that up against the total penalty numbers of 14 for 123 yards versus Arizona’s 3 for 32 yards makes it look even more problematic. Then there were the reviews that took a while to initiate and a fair bit of which were incorrect. At one point, Helton had to run onto the field to try to get attention for a review. He was flagged for that too since he a sideline warning had been given earlier in the game. Despite the ref being right by the letter of the law, no sane referee should flag that.

Those 18 yards at the beginning of the third quarter moved at a snail’s pace. It must’ve been 20 minutes of real time for those pitiful 18 yards ending in a punt. I thought I was watching a World War I documentary about trench warfare. By the start of the fourth quarter, the East Coast had hit the daylight savings time change. Who’s crazy enough to watch that, especially if it wasn’t their favorite team?


BAD: Two red zone trips with no points? USC has had red zone troubles all year. Some of it is being unable to convert short yardage situations.

GOOD: The defense held Arizona to a pair of field goals for over two and a half quarters.

BAD: Defense getting tired after ridiculously drawn out game. Part of the reason that Arizona made such a furious comeback.

GOOD: John Houston had an interception made of dreams.

GOOD: JuJu Smith-Schuster joined the student section in the stands late in the fourth quarter.

GOOD: Tyler Vaughns continues to impress with what he goes after the catch

GOOD: More good work by the USC running backs

CommBro Breaker
USC still has a formidable streak intact. They are 15-0 at home, dating back to 2015. The last time they lost in the Coliseum was the game that eventually led to Sark’s dismissal.

Lottery Stats

USC leads the nation in sacks (34).

Running count of fourth down conversions: 6 of 17 (35%)

Running count of opponent fourth down conversions: 11 of 18 (61%)

USC is the second worst in the conference in allowing fourth down conversions. Only Oregon State (arguably the worst team in the conference) allows more of them than USC (69%).