Trojan offense shows up in the fog

USC got most everything it wanted out of Saturday's 44-17 win over Washington State in the Palouse -- as long as Su'a Cravens' injury is just a knee sprain going into the bye week. Lots of individual records and career-highs in this one.

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Outside of Su'a Cravens' knee injury, which may just be a sprain if USC is lucky, the Trojans got pretty much exactly what they wanted in Saturday's bounce-back game against Washington State.

They got a win. Never discount that in the Pac-12 to take them to 5-2 (6-3 overall) and a slew of records in conditions Southern California kids don't often see.

Or Florida kids either, like two of the Trojans record-breakers -- Nelson Agholor and Buck Allen. "I've played in the rain," Buck said. "We have rain in Florida. It was just a little cold," Buck said of the 43-degree temperature, constant rain and mist and a fog that finally rolled in so deep that if this had been a night game, it couldn't have been played.

So let's hear it for the Pac-12 Networks that had this one early in the afternoon although if you're looking to advertise your big plays and big playmakers, this probably isn't the place to do it.

We're talking Pac-12 TV and Pullman where the Martin Stadium crowd, listed at 25,012 never came close to approaching that number and would have been lucky to be a third of that by the end of the third quarter when it was 44-10.

And the one reason to watch the Cougs, Connor Halliday, the nation's leading passer, was undergoing surgery at the end of the day for an undisclosed leg injury after being buried by Leonard Williams on his sixth and final completion of a nine-pass day.

Both Cody Kessler, who would reach his own career-high of 400 yards passing on just 32 attempts (21 completions) in this one along with Williams came over to Halliday as he waited to be carted off the field. "We feel bad for him," Williams said. "I'm definitely going to give him a call."

Kessler said the pair became close this summer at the Manning Passing Academy and he was praying for Halliday. And not so much wanting to talk about his career-high day. "A lot of guys had them," he said.

Indeed. Agholor, with the help of the likes of Juju Smith as an edge punt rusher and Adoree Jackson as a return man turned blocker, took the game's first punt back 65 yards for a quick score to get USC on top -- and also make clear the difference in athleticism between teams as he just ran away from the Cougars.

"I was blocking and I didn't know where Nelson was," Adoree said later after revealing that his injury had just knocked the wind out of him -- nothing more. "And then I heard the crowd keep making noise." So he figured Nelson was somewhere.

Where Nelson was was in the end zone scoring his fourth career punt return touchdown, the most by any Trojan -- ever. His 87-yard TD catch in the third quarter was the longest for him as he racked up a single-game career high of 220 receiving yards on just eight catches. That 87-yarder was also the longest TD throw for Kessler, who finished with five in all.

"I was just hoping I didn't overthrow him,' Kessler said, echoing his coach Steve Sarkisian, of the release from near the USC goal line that he put extra mustard on it into the wind. But then it's not easy to overthrow Agholor. He will go and get it.

Three of Cody's five TD passes went to freshman Smith, who continues to amaze. He makes it look easy. And he liked the conditions, he said. "It was really cold out there," JuJu said. "I like the cold."

And if Saturday was any indication, the cold likes Juju. "I'm just going with the flow," he said, "and trying to make the best of it. I'm the young guy on the field."

But he doesn't play like it in practice, Sark said congratulating both Nelson and JuJu for their combined five TDs and 365 total yards. Of JuJu, Sark said, after how he practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, he has to tell him to "take it easy on Thursday."

Save yourself for Saturday, Sark said. Which is exactly what they both did.

Tailback Allen seemed to be waiting his time, as well, but a second-half worksheet for 80 yards against a WSU defense definitely set up to stop him, as so many have been this season, got him to his record territory.

With 114 yards on the ground, Buck is the first USC back since Marcus Allen in 1981 to rush for six straight 100-yard-plus games. Marcus did it 11 straight games. Why is that record important, Buck was asked.

That's simple. "It's Marcus Allen," Buck said simply. Nothing else need be said although he did say "It's been a blessing from God." And it came on another day when it was obvious the opponent's defense was set to take Buck out.

"Coach Sark said we're going to throw the ball deep," Buck said. "I never question the gameplan . . . I know our receivers can stretch the field."

Exactly, Kessler said. "If defenses give us something, we need to attack it." On this day, USC did.

Even Sark seemed impressed by the "getting it in chunks" game he's been talking about.

He's also been talking about something else, something he picked up under Pete. Make this a November to remember. "But you can't go 4-0 in November if you don't go 1-0," Cody said Sark told them. Now they are.

"November is very special to this program," Agholor said."We're talking about progressing through November. At the end of the day, if we can put the pieces together, we can probably do something very special."

Some would say they did on this Saturday. They would say they didn't. Wait until the end of November for that kind of talk.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


USCFootball.com Top Stories