The #14 USC Trojans opened their 2022 season with a rout, defeating the University of Rice Owls 66-14.
Overwhelming USC Offense
Quarterback Caleb Williams had a strong debut, proving to be everything as advertised. Leading the Trojans offense to an opening drive score and producing five more scoring drives in succession, Williams was also active on the ground, gaining 68 yards, including a sweet 33-yard run that demonstrated his exceptional open-field running ability. Williams completed 19 of 22 passing attempts for 249 yards and two touchdowns, both to Pitt transfer Jordan Addison.
Addison scored the first touchdown of the season on a five-yard pass reception. Wasting little time in showing Trojan fans what they can expect from the former Biletnikoff Award winner, Addison toyed with Rice’s defenders, beating them underneath whenever called upon, finishing the game with five catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns.
The biggest surprise came from the true freshman.
Raleek Brown showcased his speed and outran the Rice defenders for a 14-yard score. Brown was the most explosive player on the field for the Trojans who wasn’t named Williams. In total, Brown had his number called eight times and produced 76 yards and a touchdown, averaging 6.0 yards per carry on the ground and 20 yards per reception. Brown was a key figure in helping USC hit the proverbial gas pedal and leave Rice in the dust.
USC Defense Shines Against Rice
Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has had a tall order ahead of him since joining the team. Early on, the defense was getting blown up in the run game. Rice would score on its opening possession and again in the second quarter. Usually, in games like these, the underdog opponent is full of fire and brimstone early. Once the second quarter started, the talent discrepancy came out and Rice couldn’t hang.
By the time the clock read 0:00, the defense held Rice to 280 total yards, including 134 yards through the air, allowing the Owls to convert only 5-16 third-down conversions and 1-3 fourth-down conversions. The only real negative was losing the time of possession battle.
Taking the football away four times, the defense produced four interceptions. Calen Bullock, Shane Lee, and Ralen Goforth returned three for touchdowns.
All in all, the Trojans knocked off the rust against Rice and produced at a high enough level which was good enough to win going away. Williams will be in the chase for the Heisman Trophy this season provided he stays healthy and masters the system. Addison will look to be a repeat winner of the Biletnikoff Award.
Lincoln Riley’s offense is a multi-dynamic machine, whose sole purpose is to put points on the board. There was never any doubt about the final outcome of this game. As long as the defense can be turnover magnets, this season just got a whole lot crazier. The journey to the promised land begins with a small step. With a 66-14 victory, the Trojans have taken the first step.