USC Trojans Shine, Win Possible Farewell to Classic Rivalry
September 14, 2023
After over a century of fierce competition, the future of the classic rivalry between the USC Trojans and the Stanford Cardinal remains uncertain. In the final scheduled meeting between these two storied programs, the Trojans left no doubt about their dominance with a resounding 56-10 victory last Saturday night before 67,213 at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Led by the dynamic Caleb Williams, the Trojans showcased their status in the journey toward championship glory. Williams, playing only in the first half, dazzled with 281 passing yards, three touchdowns through the air, and another with his legs. The performance confirmed why he's considered a top NFL draft prospect.
Yet, it wasn't just Williams who shined under the bright Los Angeles Coliseum lights. Zachariah Branch added to the spectacle with a sensational 75-yard punt return for a touchdown. The Trojans had seven players score touchdowns in the game, exemplifying their depth and talent.
Coach Lincoln Riley summed it perfectly. "That was one of our more complete halves, where guys were firing on all cylinders."
The Trojans piled up an impressive 433 yards of offense in the first half alone, leaving the Stanford defense scrambling for answers. It was a masterclass performance by USC, leaving a significant mark in the annals of the historic rivalry.
As the final whistle blew and the Trojans celebrated their victory, it was a poignant moment for both programs. USC is set to join the Big Ten, while Stanford will become part of the ACC next year, signaling the end of their shared history in various Pac conference configurations since 1922. This might be the last chapter in their rivalry, but the memories will endure.
Coach Riley was reflective of the rivalry's significance. "This was a series that we talked with the team a lot last year. This was a series that, in recent years, had gone a little bit of a different way," Riley said. "I'm really, big-picture, proud to be able to get the final last two meetings here. It was important for us to seize the moment and opportunity."
Despite only participating in seven offensive series, Caleb Williams displayed the full extent of his talents. Williams left no doubt about his intentions, from a 21-yard rushing touchdown on the first drive to a spectacular 75-yard TD pass to Brenden Rice.
"I'm going out there trying to kill. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make everybody feel our pain and play on our terms," Williams said. In the second half, USC generously utilized their backups, showcasing the depth of their roster.
For Stanford, new coach Troy Taylor acknowledged the disparity in talent but expressed his determination to improve. "We're a young team, we knew that. But that doesn't mean we can't be a really good team, so we are going to continue to work."
The Trojans' defense, which had shown inconsistency in previous games, performed admirably, forcing turnovers, and holding Stanford to just 146 yards in the first half.
As the USC Trojans gear up for the rigors of facing Arizona State on September 23, and Colorado on September 30 on the road in Pac-12 conference play, there's a palpable sense of anticipation and vulnerability surrounding their defense. It's a feeling lurking in the shadows, whispered in hushed tones among fans who proudly wear cardinal and gold.
You see, the Trojan defense has been a subject of both hope and concern. In moments, they've displayed flashes of brilliance, a formidable force that can disrupt any opponent's game plan. But there have been equally poignant moments when they've appeared vulnerable, like a shield with chinks in its armor.
It's a bit of déjà vu for Trojans faithful, a reminder of last season when high-scoring shootouts and nail-biting finishes were the norm. A team with the cornerstone of a championship offense has a glaring hole that could thwart their College Football Playoffs hopes. The defense must find a way to be more consistent. It sometimes feels like a puzzle, missing the finishing piece.
But there's no sense of losing hope just yet. Vulnerability can be a catalyst for growth. It's an opportunity for this defense to band together, to learn from their missteps, and to emerge stronger, wiser, and more resilient as they prepare for Arizona State.
As the Trojans take the field, vulnerability is just one part of their story. With determination and grit, a chapter can lead to a triumphant ending, a championship tale written on the heart of Angelinos and Trojans everywhere.
However, as the Trojans savored their victory and Stanford regroups, this game held a special place in the hearts of all who witnessed it. It was more than just a football game. It reflected tradition, passion, and the ever-evolving landscape of college sports.
The future may be uncertain, but one thing remains clear: the Trojans are ready to take the next step in their journey, whatever that may be. And while the rivalry may be on hold, the memories of this game will endure, a testament to the enduring spirit of college football.
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