USC Takes Down Fresno State: By The Numbers

The USC Trojans took down the Fresno State Bulldogs 45-17 on Saturday. Justin Urgo takes a look at the numbers that allowed the Trojans to leave the Coli with a win.

Later on Saturday evening, the USC Trojans hosted the Mountain West powerhouse Fresno State in what was a close game to start before USC pulled away to a 45-17 victory.

USC’s offense continued to click and is now one of the best in the country, if not the best. On the defensive side of things, the Trojans continued to be gashed on the ground, which is a glaring issue that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. If this defense continues to be run all over that will be the reason they miss the playoffs, even with a “once in a generation offense.”

Let’s take a look at the numbers that led to the victory.

Two Hundred Thirty-Three

There’s no question the identity of this team is Caleb Williams and this passing attack. However, to make this offense a little less one-dimensional against better teams they are going to have implement the run more effectively.

Against the Bulldogs, they did just that, totaling 233 yards on the ground which was 50 shy of what they had through the air. This backfield was about as 50/50 as you can get with Austin Jones getting 12 carries for 110 yards and Travis Dye 11 carries for 102 yards. That comes out to an average of nine yards a carry. That’s about a first down a carry which is a testament to the offensive line and their dominance.

The pass protection has been astounding and now we see the run blocking is right up there with it. Austin Jones and Travis Dye had multiple holes open on each carry and the line had a push of at least two yards on each snap so the only direction to go was forward.

Five Hundred Thirty-One

As for the few negative points of the game, as I mentioned earlier, was the defense’s ability to stop the run. Per NCAA College Football Rankings, the Trojans rank 104th in the nation in rushing defense which is a huge problem considering that USC is ranked 7th in the country. No top ten team should have that huge of a hole if they aspire to make a deep run.

Opponents, as of now, average 177 yards on the ground against this unit where the overall amount of rush yards allowed so far is 531. To make matters worse, each of their opponents totaled 111 rush attempts which are 25-plus fewer carries than the surrounding teams in the rankings.

To give you an example, Toledo has also allowed 531 yards but on 132 carries. So not only does this defense struggle to stop the run they struggle against the big run plays of 10 or more yards. This comes at a pivotal point in the season where next week they play Oregon State. The Beavers have averaged over 180 yards on the ground in these past three weeks.


Yes, I’m aware that last week I had also noted the number of turnovers but this is important because this means that you give the ball back to your offense. So even if your defense isn’t necessarily shutting down offenses, when you create turnovers, it turns into more opportunities to score points and take it out of the opposing team’s hands.

So far the Trojans have 10 turnovers which has them still ranked number one in the country, not to mention their turnover margin is also ranked number one because the offense takes care of the ball.

The Trojans have seven interceptions and three fumble recoveries after Saturday night’s game. So aside from the defense not being able to stop the run, pressure the passer, etc., as long as you create turnovers coaches will live with that.