USC showered with boos in unraveling loss to Stanford – Daily Bulletin

LOS ANGELES — You can take your pick of which moment was the actual nail in the coffin Saturday in No. 14 USC’s 42-28 loss to Stanford.

When the reliable Drake London let a third-down pass slip through his hands to be intercepted and returned 31 yards for a touchdown. When the Trojans failed to score a third-quarter touchdown for the seventh time in eight games despite an 11-point halftime deficit.

Or when Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee rushed for a touchdown with 25 seconds left in the third quarter. That was certainly when many of the fans at the Coliseum decided it was over, heading directly for the exits. Those that remained seemed to do so only to boo after every failed drive, or missed tackle, or penalty.

The game was a disaster anyway you cut it for USC (1-1, 0-1 in Pac-12).

The Trojans went 5-for-14 on third down, averaging just 3.0 yards on those conversion attempts. They only gained an average of 5.4 yards per play overall compared to Stanford’s 7.4.

And that was just the offense.

As for the other side of the ball, which was the starring attraction in the season opener? The USC defense allowed a Stanford team that gained 233 yards in four quarters a week ago to gain 248 in the first half at the Coliseum.

That might be the worst part: Stanford (1-1, 1-0) looked dreadful just a week ago in a 17-point loss to Kansas State. That’s why the Trojans entered the weekend as 17-point favorites against the Cardinal.

Instead of coasting to victory as the line would suggest, USC suffered its most lopsided loss to an unranked opponent since 2018.

And the discipline that USC showed a week ago with four penalties? Well, the Trojans regressed in that department, drawing nine flags to give up 109 yards of field position and five Stanford first downs.

Things started about as poorly as possible for USC. Kicker Parker Lewis was ejected for targeting on the opening kickoff, the offense had consecutive two-and-outs and the defense gave up its first big play of the season, with Stanford running back Nathaniel Peat breaking free to the outside for an 87-yard touchdown run.

It looked as if USC had settled down with a methodical, 15-play, 95-yard touchdown drive capped by a two-yard run from Keaontay Ingram, helped across the goal line by center Brett Neilon to tie the game at the start of the second quarter.

But the Trojans’ comedy of errors continued on the next defensive drive. USC committed three costly penalties: A dead-ball unnecessary roughness infraction from Chris Steele, a pass interference on Isaac Taylor-Stuart and, lastly and most crucially, a neutral zone infraction by Joshua Jackson before a successful Stanford field goal.

Rather than take the three points, Stanford opted to go for it all from the USC 3. McKee rolled outside to his right and found Elijah Higgins for a touchdown.

The final indignity came after USC quarterback Kedon Slovis missed London in the end zone on third-and-five. The Trojans settled for Alex Stadthaus’ first career field goal and, they hoped, a four-point halftime deficit.

But the Cardinal drove 64 yards in four plays, helped in large part by a 49-yard completion to Austin Jones. McKee found Brycen Tremayne in the back of the end zone for another touchdown a 21-10 halftime lead.

As USC ran to the locker room, the players were showered with boos. Head coach Clay Helton’s halftime interview played on the big screen at the game was drowned out by the fans’ displeasure.

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