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USC Shows It Can Finish; USC 38, Syracuse 17

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USC silences critics with a blowout of Syracuse

By Gary Montgomery, BVN Staff –

Los Angeles – The Trojans gave its fans what they have been waiting to see this season ─ a complete game. USC finished Saturdays’ game with its offense on the field for a change rather than its defense struggling to come up with a play to preserve the win. A welcomed delight for their 65,873 faithful fans in attendance.

After another week of listening to the grumbling and second guessing, The Trojan offense turned in its most balanced effort in several seasons. The passing attack obviously dominated the action but the balance play calling of their attack was excellent with 39 passes and 33 rushing attempts for the game. Most noticeable was the return of the long pass to the Trojan’s offensive repertoire.

“We had to approach it that way tonight (deep passing attack). They are a strong team against the run so I didn’t want to get caught up in another game where we were running the ball just for the sake of running it. The vertical game is what was open for us and we took it,” said USC second year head coach Lane Kiffin.

And took it they did. Junior quarterback Matt Barkley had a career day throwing the ball 39 times to eight different receivers for a total of 326 passing yards and no interceptions. It was one of his best performances since taking over the quarterback duties as true freshman in the 2009 season.

“It was a different experience tonight than the other five touchdown games I’ve had in the past. I didn’t notice it until I looked up at the board late in the game and I think that was because of how we spread the ball around tonight. We had a full game on offense and everyone pitched in. It feels good and we needed this,” said USC quarterback Matt Barkley.

After beginning the season with back-to-back nail biters against underdog opponents, the Trojan fans were becoming a little concerned about their team’s ability to close out games. Against Minnesota, the Trojans relied on a Torin Harris interception the final drive. And again last week against Utah, the defense had to block a late field goal to preserve the win. If you go back to last season, the Trojans lost 4 games on the opponent’s final posession. So, it makes perfect sense that fans would begin to dread seeing that scenario developing again.

On Saturday there was little doubt that the Orangemen’s first ever game against USC and first trip to the Coliseum since 1924 would be anything but a convincing loss. After Syracuse scored on a 23-yard field goal from Ross Krautman at 6:44 of the first quarter, it was all Trojans from that point on. USC would go on to score 17 unanswered points in the first half and take a 17-3 lead into halftime.

In the second, USC’s Curtis McNeal returned the second half kickoff 17-yards setting the offense up on its own 36 yard line. After 3 plays and a first down, Matt Barkley hit sophomore tight end Randall Telfer from Rancho Cucamonga with a 44-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 24-3. Telfer’s touchdown was the first opening second half scoring drive of the season. A significant accomplishment for the young Trojan’s offensive unit and an obvious sign of relief for the Trojan faithful.

Syracuse would go on to score its first touchdown with 10:43 left in the 3rd quarter on a 28-yard pass from Alec Lemon to Van Chew to tighten the score at 24-10 but would never pose a serious threat to the Trojans. USC’s offense never let up and unlike previous games matched the opponent’s scoring to end. Syracuse scored one final touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Ryan Nassib to Alec Lemon. Barkley threw scoring passes of 43-yards and 9-yards to Marquise Lee and Xavier Gimble to reach the final score.

Not only did USC’s win over unrated Syracuse give their fans hope for the season, it also could help give the young Trojan offense a much needed boost of confidence before heading into the more difficult part of the season. The road gets increasingly difficult from here with USC heading into Sun Valley to tangle with the number 22 ranked Arizona State Sun Devils next week. If the young receivers keep improving and contributing as they did on Saturday, The Trojans could be an unexpected force in the first ever Pac-12 title race.

G. Montgomery can be reached at sports@blackvoicenews.com

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