USC Football Hosts Idaho|
Sept. 6, 2015
No. 8 USC, coming off a convincing season-opening thrashing over Arkansas State, faces its second consecutive Sun Belt opponent when it hosts long-ago conference foe Idaho. Until the teams met in 2007, it had been nearly 80 years since the one-time Pacific Coast Conference rivals had tangled. USC has won all 8 of its meetings against the Vandals. It’s the second of 3 straight home games that opens Troy’s 2015 campaign, with Stanford up next to begin Pac-12 play. USC third-year QB Cody Kessler, a Heisman Trophy candidate who last fall had the most efficient passing season in Trojan history (69.7%, 3,800-plus yards, 39 TDs, 5 interceptions) while setting 6 school records, is off to a fast start in 2015 as he threw for 4 TDs in the opener. TB Tre Madden showed he hasn’t missed a step after sitting out last season with an injury, as he had a 100-yard rushing outing last week (Troy’s young runners were impressive, too), while Biletnikoff Award candidate WR JuJu Smith-Schuster scored on a long pass on the fourth play of the game last Saturday. The offensive line, led by leading Rimington Trophy candidate C Max Tuerk, allowed USC to pile up over 500 total yards in the opener, but did surrender 5 sacks (although not all were the line’s fault). Butkus nominee OLB Su’a Cravens and S Chris Hawkins helped USC’s defense get 4 takeaways in the opener and lots of new players saw action on that side of the ball, too. In all, 23 Trojans made their debut last week for head coach Steve Sarkisian, including 13 true freshmen. CB-WR-RET Adoree’ Jackson, the nation’s most exciting performer who is being considered for such awards as the Heisman, Thorpe and Hornung, hopes to be back in action after being sidelined mid-opener by a slight injury. Idaho, which has won just 1 game each of the past 3 years, is coming off an opening home loss to Ohio. Coached by Paul Petrino, the Vandal offense returned its top passer (QB Matt Linehan) and runner (234-pound RB Elijhaa Penny) from 2014 and its leading receiver from 2013 is back after a year’s layoff (WR Dezmon Epps, who had 79 grabs for nearly 1,000 yards that season). Idaho’s defense has gone to a 3-4 look after allowing more than 460 total yards and 37 points a year ago. LB Marc Millan is back after topping the team in tackles (102) and tackles for loss (15.5) in 2014. P Austin Rehkow was a 2013 All-American first team punter and also handles the placekicks. The game will be shown live on Pac-12 Networks. It’s Joint Forces Day at the Coliseum, with some 10,000 military personnel and first responders expected in the crowd. Besides football, USC’s highly-ranked women’s volleyball and soccer teams also will be in action this weekend.