LOS ANGELES— USC’s road to the College Football Playoff started Saturday night with a 56-28 win over San Jose State at the Coliseum as Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams picked up where he left off last season, throwing for 278 yards and four touchdowns.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Caleb Williams looks is the Heisman favorite
We all know the Trojans will go as far as Williams takes them and the way he played against San Jose State, you have to believe this team will go far this season. Williams is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy for consecutive years with his odds at +500. The players after Williams are LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels at +900 and Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers at +1100. If Williams continues to play like he did on Saturday, he will become just the second player ever to win the Heisman Trophy twice.
The Trojans have star power all over the field
Multiple players stood out in the first game of the season. Dorian Singer and Austin Jones made big plays and Zachariah Branch and Tajh Washington also had an impressive outings on Saturday night. Both players had a combined 143 receiving yards in the game. But it was Branch who stole the show and had everyone talking postgame.
Branch’s performance had some fans having flashbacks to Reggie Bush, highlighted by his 96-yard kick return for a touchdown. The freshman talked with the confidence of a season veteran after the game. After his touchdown, he pulled off a celebration he worked on for almost two months. He loved the Cristiano Ronaldo celebration from the FIFA video game. “I had scored a goal one time and I just did the celebration button and I was like, that’s pretty cool, I’ve been playing that for like two months,” Branch said.
Defense struggles early but makes adjustments
The Trojans defense was slightly off in the second quarter, allowing a scoring drive in the beginning and end of the quarter. Those mistake can and will get cleaned up, Riley said after the game. Besides those moments which allowed the game to be close at 21-14 to start the third quarter, the defense looked improved with Mason Cobb, Jaylin Smith, Calen Bullock and Domani Jackson making plays.
Most of the defense’s trouble came from playing against a mobile, fifth-year quarterback in Chevan Cordeiro, who rushed for 52 yards in the game.
Check out the post-game conference below with Lincoln Riley, Caleb Williams, Zachariah Branch and Mason Cobb.