Darnold Propels USC to 41-20 Win Over Arizona State|
Oct. 02, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AP) Sam Darnold passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns in his first home start, and Southern California emerged with a 41-20 victory over Arizona State on Saturday night.
JuJu Smith-Schuster caught seven passes for 123 yards and a career-high tying three TDs for the Trojans (2-3, 1-2 Pac-12), who emphatically avoided their first 0-3 start to conference play since 2001 with a blowout of the previously unbeaten Sun Devils (4-1, 1-1).
''When adversity hits, it reveals your character,'' USC coach Clay Helton said. ''The character of this team is something I'm very excited about.''
USC racked up 34 consecutive points to take a 41-6 lead during the middle two quarters, and Smith-Schuster scored on catches of 5, 3 and 67 yards. Justin Davis had a 37-yard TD run among his 123 yards rushing for the Trojans.
''This is where the new season starts,'' Davis said. ''Whatever happened in the past is the past. We still have one of the best teams, and I'm glad we could show what we can do tonight.''
After averaging 48.8 points in their first four games, the Sun Devils didn't reach the end zone against USC's inspired defense until Brady White threw a 13-yard TD pass to Raymond Epps with 8:37 to play.
''I'm proud of our team for finishing hard, but we can't put ourselves in that situation,'' White said.
Darnold was confident and exciting in front of the Trojans' home fans, rushing for a 3-yard score while going 23 for 33 with no interceptions. A week after replacing Max Browne as the Trojans' starter, the redshirt freshman quickly infused excitement into the Trojans' inconsistent offense, showing off his big arm and elusiveness while going 23 for 33 with no interceptions.
USC extended its lead to 34-6 when Smith-Schuster caught a short pass and crisscrossed the field while going to the end zone untouched early in the third quarter.
USC: Just in time, the Trojans put together a comprehensively strong performance against a quality opponent. Their talent repeatedly shone through, and Darnold injected confidence and fun into a sometimes tentative team. USC is in position make a run with three of their next four games at home.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils return to Tempe to host UCLA. They beat the Bruins in Pasadena last year.
USC: The Trojans stay home to face surprising Colorado, which jumped to 4-1 with a blowout win over Oregon State. The Buffaloes are 2-0 in Pac-12 play after losing 40 of their first 45 league games.