Despite a lackadaisical, scoreless first quarter, No. 11 USC exploded for a 38-24 win over Colorado. The team's win over the Buffaloes solidified the Trojans as the Pac-12 South Champions. They'll play the winner of the Pac-12 North—Stanford, WSU, or Washington—on December 1st.
The Trojans were led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold put up 329 passing yards, going 21-for-34 and throwing two touchdowns. This was just the second time this season Darnold hasn't thrown an interception. The only other time was at home against Utah.
Darnold also picked up 31 rushing yards and a 24-yard touchdown.
Junior tailback Ronald Jones II had 192 yards and a touchdown. Thanks to the day's performance, he's now 6th all-time in rushing yards for USC with 3,293 yards. He needs just 130 yards to pass O.J. Simpson (3,423).
"There's definitely a lot of momentum with the offensive line doing what they're doing and the balanced attack that we have right now," Jones said. "We're all definitely in the groove."
During the Colorado game, Jones passed Mike Garrett (3,221), Reggie Bush (3,169), and LenDale White (3,159). Bush was Jones' favorite player growing up.
"Reggie was you know my all-time favorite player growing up," Jones said. "So, you know, just to be mentioned in the conversation with him is crazy."
Jones has met Bush once before: at the Pac-12 championship game his freshman year. Bush was honored on the conference's all-century team.
"[Bush] came through, I almost fainted," Jones said. "That was amazing, I'll never forget that."
Jones was pretty much still in shock that he passed Bush. He said that while he believed what everyone was saying, it wouldn't be real until he saw the numbers himself. He was asked if he thinks that Bush should reach out to him.
"Yeah, he should call me. We got to race or something, see if he still got it, he's definitely got it," Jones said as he laughed. "Yeah, that's the GOAT. That's the GOAT for real."
Redshirt junior cornerback Ajene Harris recorded two interceptions, taking one back for a pick-six. After getting his first interception last week against the Wildcats, Harris now has three on the season.
As a team, USC now has 15 interceptions on the season. They're second in the conference behind Arizona with 16 interceptions. The Trojans have three scores off of interceptions, most in the conference.
Harris' second interception of the night could've also been returned for the score. Harris tossed it to junior safety Marvell Tell III who carried it 27 yards to the end zone. Upon review, Harris' knee was ruled down and the score was brought back.
Christian Rector and Rasheem Green each recorded a sack. USC now has 36 sacks on the season, two shy of Clemson for best in the country.
USC's special teams, which at times has been a cause for concern at times this season, blocked two field goals. Brandon Pili had one and Austin Jackson had another.
Darnold's performance was strengthened by the growth of the team's young receiver corps.
Redshirt freshman Tyler Vaughns had 90 yards on five catches. Sophomore Michael Pittman Jr. had 59 yards on four catches and a touchdown. Both Vaughns and Pittman have matured to reliable outlets for Darnold.
Junior Deontay Burnett put up 79 yards on six catches and a touchdown. Redshirt senior Steven Mitchell Jr. was nine yards shy of his first 100-yard game. He's consistently been a dependable receiver for Darnold.
While the Trojans now have the Pac-12 Championship game to look forward to, they'll face the Bruins on Saturday in the team's final game at the Coliseum.
"There's still a lot out there that we have to get ready for," head coach Clay Helton said. "We're going to celebrate tonight and go back to work tomorrow."