The No. 22 ranked Trojans traveled to Austin, Texas to take on the Texas Longhorns in a cross-conference rivalry. Off of a 17-3 loss against the Stanford Cardinal, USC faced a high-power Big 12 opponent led by sophomore dual-threat quarterback Sam Ehlinger. After a 14-3 run by USC, Texas took over the game and won 37-14.
USC executed their game plan to perfection on their opening drive. USC’s quarterback JT Daniels completed five of six passes, leading USC 75 yards for an opening score against the Longhorns.
After a long four-minute, 29-second drive by the Longhorns, USC held the Texas offense to only three points featuring a strong goal-line stand by USC’s defensive line.
USC’s big-play offense helped the Trojans get an early 14 to 3 lead by the end of the first quarter with a 23-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Stephen Carr and a 40-yard reception by Velus Jones Jr.
Unfortunately, Vavae Malepeai’s 3-yard touchdown run would be the Trojans’ last points of the game. Texas went on a 34-0 run from the start of the second quarter to the end of the game.
USC really struggled on special teams. Chris Tilbey had an early 13-yard punt, allowing the Longhorns to take a halftime lead. USC’s kicker, Chase McGrath, had a 50-yard kick blocked, which Texas returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.
McGrath hobbled off the field after his blocked kick. Coach Clay Helton said after the game that he fears McGrath has a torn ACL, but he will have to wait to MRI results to confirm the diagnosis. If McGrath misses any time, USC will have to turn to true freshman Alex Stadthaus for kickoffs and field goals.
USC lost another key player in linebacker Porter Gustin. He was ejected due to a targeting foul in the third quarter. Gustin will miss the first half of Friday’s game because of this penalty. Before his ejection, Gustin led the Trojans with two sacks and three tackles for a loss.
Texas’ Defensive Line: Texas held USC to negative five yards on 16 rushes. The Longhorns recorded 10.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, and three forced fumbles on the Trojans. USC’s run game was constantly stopped behind the line of scrimmage after Carr’s 23-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Marvell Tell III: Tell had a respectable showing on the stat line with six tackles and one pass defended. Tell shined in the safety position, an area of USC suffering three recent player losses in Bubba Bolden, Ykili Ross and Isaiah Pola-Mao.
Sam Ehlinger: Texas’ quarterback might not have recorded great stats, but he came through when it mattered for the Longhorns. He completed less than fifty percent of his passes, but he ran for a touchdown and threw two 25-yard or longer touchdowns.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: St. Brown was USC’s biggest playmaker for the game, recording nine receptions for 167 yards. He made multiple big receptions, his longest being a 53-yard catch. After struggling against Stanford last week, he came through as one of the few bright spots of the Trojans’ offense.
USC’s game plan fell apart after giving Texas great field position often in the second quarter. After falling behind, USC was unable to execute a successful comeback, often forcing deep passes into double coverage.
USC’s running game failed to give JT Daniels any relief from Texas’ pressure. Daniels struggled with accuracy in the second half, recording few first downs and multiple incompletions. Daniels has not thrown for a touchdown since their 43-21 win against UNLV.
USC will be back at home next week with a Friday night game against Washington State. Washington State has not faced a tough opponent yet this year, but they are 3-0 and average nearly 44 points per game. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN at 7:30 PM PDT.
Texas will remain at home against TCU.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves right now. We got a conference game coming up and it’s a very important one for us on a Friday night. So, we got to get back home, watch this tape, and get going tonight,” Clay Helton said about the Trojans’ upcoming match against Washington State.
- style="font-weight: 400;">Chase McGrath left the game with a knee injury. He will be evaluated for a possible ACL tear.
- style="font-weight: 400;">Malik Dorton hobbled off the field in the third quarter. No other information was provided.