It was a sparse crowd and a slow start for California on Saturday afternoon in the Coliseum. After stalling on their first series of the game, the Golden Bears were forced to punt the football.
Deep for USC was Nelson Agholor who wasted no time returning the punt 75-yards for a Trojan touchdown. Agholor blew by California defenders, leaving their punter to make the final tackle which Agholor swiftly avoided, giving USC the quick 7-0 lead before two minutes even ran off the clock.
"The best thing about getting that first return is it gave the rest of those guys [on special teams] confidence that we could block the same way," Agholor said after the game. "You return one and everyone want to return another."
That's exactly what Agholor did, returning a second punt for a touchdown later in the half, this time 93 yards.
"That's a unit type thing," he explained. "Punt returns are not done by one person. One guy is not going to juke out 11 people. Those guys blocked well and we were able to make the play."
Anthony Brown returned a blocked punt for a touchdown last year in the Trojans win at Washington. The last time a USC player returned a punt for a touchdown (not a blocked punt) was in 2010 by Ronoald Johnson in USC's opener versus Hawaii.
First quarter fire
The Trojans wasted no time in their effort to put the Bears away Saturday afternoon, scoring 21 points in the first quarter alone on their way to the 62-28 win.
The 21 first quarter points were the most points scored in the first quarter for the Trojans since 2010.
"Tremendous team win," USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron said after the game. "We felt the whole week that we had a tremendous week of practice, and it goes to show you how close these guys are getting as a unit and family, and focus into the task at hand."
The Trojans scored 41 points in the first half, the most since scoring 42 against Cal in 2010.
Remember the name
Buck Allen scored his first two career touchdowns in Ed Orgeron's first game as interim head coach against Arizona.
He scored three more in USC's win against Oregon State on Friday night.
And he was right back to business in the Trojans win at California. Allen scored two touchdowns in the first half for the Trojans. His first, a 43-yard run. The second, a screen pas that resulted in a 57-yard touchdown.
Then, on USC's first play from scrimmage to start the second half, Allen broke for a 79- yard touchdown run to tie his career high set against the Beavers.
Allen finished the afternoon with six carries for 137 yards, including two touchdowns. He caught one pass for 57 yards, which resulted in a touchdown.
Buried on the depth chart out of fall camp, Allen was asked what he would've say out of camp if he was told he'd have two strong back-to-back performances in the Trojans' winning efforts… "Would've laughed, probably," Allen said.
"I know what I'm capable of," he continued. "It was just me biding my time and waiting for my chance."
"Saved the best for last," Orgeron chimed in, chuckling.
Special teams shine
The Trojans dominated special teams on Saturday. USC returned three punts in the first half for touchdowns.
"We got better in all phases of the game this week," Orgeron said. "We did a tremendous job on special teams. I've got to give credit to coach [John] Baxter. This was probably one of the better special teams performances I've seen as a coach."
The first touchdown, a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown after California's first drive stalled. The second, a blocked punt by Soma Vainuku in which Josh Shaw caught the blocked punt in the air and returned it for a touchdown. The third, a 93-yard return by Agholor again for another six points on the board for the Trojans.
Three returned punts for touchdowns in a game ties the Pac-12 and NCAA record. Agholor's two-return touchdown effort ties a Pac-12 record for punt returns in a game. The sophomore also set the record for punt return yardage in a single game.
The only apparent weakness for the Trojans special teams against California was its kicking. Andre Heidari not only missed a 46-yard field goal attempt before halftime, earlier in the game he missed a point after attempt. Heidari finished 0-1 on field goal attempts, 8-of-9 on point after attempts.
Career day for Isaac
USC fans got to see their tailback of the future in the blowout win.
Ty Isaac, who has played sparingly through the Trojans first nine games, had a career day against California.
Isaac rushed for 92 yards on 11 carries, including two touchdowns.
He averaged 7.9 yards per carry against the Bears.