USC defeated California, 38-30, on Thursday night at the Coliseum. Here are five things we learned in the Trojans’ victory.
USC can finish the season strong
The Trojans’ season is salvageable despite three losses.
The Trojans have won two consecutive games since a last-second defeat at Utah. They can make it four in a row with victories over rivals UCLA and Notre Dame.
The Trojans dominated Cal in the first half, scoring on three of their first four possessions. The defense did not allow a touchdown until midway through the second quarter.
It was arguably USC’s best half of the season.
If the Trojans can play like that the entire game they can win both rivalry games.
USC struggles in the fourth quarter
The only way the Trojans can defeat UCLA and Notre Dame is if they finally correct the problems that have led to struggles in close games.
The Trojans led, 31-9, at halftime Thursday night before they were outscored, 21-7, in the second half.
There was an all-too-familiar feeling on the field in the final minutes: Cal had a chance to come back and shock the Trojans.
UCLA and Notre Dame are better opponents than Cal and will capitalize on USC’s inability to finish strong.
Unless the Trojans fix it.
Nelson Agholor is worthy of postseason award consideration
Receiver Nelson Agholor should be a leading candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the top receiver in college football.
Agholor caught a career-high 16 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns against Cal.
He was one catch away from tying the school record set by Robert Woods in 2011.
It was Agholor’s fourth consecutive game with more than 100 yards receiving.
He has 82 receptions for 1,079 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
George Farmer is an option
Receiver George Farmer has the ability to beat defenders deep.
Wait – we already knew that. But Farmer’s speed appeared to be a new discovery for the coaching staff Thursday night.
He caught two passes for 40 yards and a touchdown.
Farmer showed a burst on his diving end zone catch.
USC has a penalty problem.
The Trojans were called for 14 penalties for 159 yards against Cal.
Coach Steve Sarkisian said he would not address the officiating after the game for fear of a fine from the Pac-12.
But whether officials are throwing an excessive number flags, USC has been consistently more penalized than its opponents.
The Trojans have drawn 92 penalties, opponents 64.
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