It was a rough day for the Fresno State Bulldogs as they suffered their worst opening season loss in school history 52-13 at the hands of the USC Trojans in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Cody Kessler had his was with the Fresno State secondary yet again as he threw for 394 yards and 4 TDs, just as he did in the Las Vegas Bowl, except this time he didn't offer up a pick-6. Javorius Allen rushed for 133 yards and 1 TD and freshman JuJu Smith made his mark with 123 yards on 4 receptions.
Coming off the Las Vegas Bowl loss, the hope was Fresno State would have some insight on how to beat USC. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the only lesson they learned was the competitive chasm between the two football teams only grew wider over the summer. Whether it be on offense or defense, Fresno State looked outmatched on both sides of the ball. While USC threw the ball freely through the air, racking up 424 yards. The Bulldog quarterbacks, Brian Burrell and Brandon Connette combined for 160 yards.
Ultimately the story boiled down to third downs and in that respect, that's where the Trojans dominated the most. USC converted 11-18 third downs on the day, including seven straight in the first half that allowed them to jump out to a 31-7 lead at halftime. On the flip side, Fresno State converted 2-12 on third down.
WHO'S FRESNO STATE'S QB?
There was no answer at quarterback for Fresno State either and it became clear as to why the coaches were unable to name an undisputed starter at the close of fall camp. Both had moments when they flashed. Brian Burrell had a nice 32-yard run with about five minutes left in the 1st Quarter when the game was still within reach, but the drive stalled and Fresno State was forced to punt, something that USC didn't do all game.
Brandon Connette brought some life off the bench leading Fresno State on a 75-yard touchdown drive to trim the lead to 24-7. The Bulldog defense responded by forcing a fumble, a rare stop, on USC's next possession. Just as hope had flowed into the Red Wave, Connette threw a drive killing INT, which lead to a USC TD, to make it 31-7 and officially put the game out of reach. "We shot ourselves in the foot on multiple drives," Connette said.
This was the biggest fear of Fresno State fans, a blowout loss to USC. The schedule doesn't get any easier with a trip to Utah followed by a home game vs Nebraska. We can only hope that USC was fare and away the best team Fresno State will play this season and they will continue to improve.
"I'm disappointed, but I'm not discouraged," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "I saw some good things out there... Clearly we were not ready to play against a team like that, but we will get better and we look forward to getting our guys better."
Let's hope, or it's going to be a long season.