Southern California set the tone early, as the Trojans beat Idaho 59-9 Saturday night in front of 72,422 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.
The USC offense worked down the field on its first drive of the game and capped the seven play, 75-yard drive with a Justin Davis one-yard touchdown run, taking a 7-0 lead with 12:52 left in the first quarter.
The eighth-ranked Trojans put together seven more touchdown drives in the route.
USC (2-0) racked up 737 yards of offense, including 453 yards passing and 284 yards rushing. Redshirt senior quarterback Cody Kessler completed 26 of his 31 passes for 410 yards and three touchdowns.
The loss dropped Idaho to 0-2 and will look to next week as the team returns to Moscow to play Wofford (1-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Kibbie Dome.
The Vandals fell behind early just as they did in their first game against Ohio. The Trojans took a 21-0 lead after Kessler connected with sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 50-yard touchdown with 4:16 left in the first quarter.
Junior kicker/punter Austin Rehkow put Idaho on the scoreboard with a 20-yard field goal to start the second quarter, cutting the USC lead to 18 points.
The Trojans’ offense added to its lead in the second quarter as redshirt senior running back Tre Madden scored on seven and nine-yard runs. Redshirt junior kicker Alex Wood nailed a 24-yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the first half to build the Trojans’ lead to 38-3.
The Vandals scored on their first drive of the third quarter after sophomore quarterback Matt Linehan found junior tight end Trent Cowan for a 10-yard touchdown. The scoring drive consumed 5:26 of clock as Idaho drove 75 yards on 13 plays to make the score 38-9. Rehkow’s extra point try was blocked.
“I think offensively there’s a lot we can take good out of it,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “There were some drives where that’s a really good football team and we moved the ball well. In the third quarter (we) had a long drive for a touchdown and had another long drive where we got stopped on fourth and one where it really looked like he got it. Those were two, good long drives.”
Linehan completed 20 out of 32 passes for 194 yards and the touchdown pass to Cowan. Redshirt freshman Jake Luton made his Idaho debut against the Trojans. The 6-foot-6-inch, 220-pound quarterback from Lake Stevens, Washington, completed eight out of 13 passes for 46 yards.
“I just needed Jake to get experience and I was going to do it in either the first or second game and kind of going into that second quarter I just felt like if he could come in and play in this atmosphere against that team, then if later in the year if something ever happens to Matt and he’s got to come in and play, it will be a lot easier situation than it was out there today,” Petrino said.
The Trojans scored three touchdowns in the second half, including a 41-yard touchdown pass from Kessler to Smith-Schuster in the third quarter. Smith-Schuster finished the game with 10 receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
While Idaho’s running game never got started — they rushed for 71 yards — the offensive line kept Linehan and Luton upright most of the game, allowing one sack.
“There was times where I thought we protected pretty well against some really good football players,” Petrino said.
With Idaho senior wide receiver Dezmon Epps out because of punishment and sophomore wide receiver David Ungerer out with an injury he sustained in the Ohio game, junior wide receiver Jacob Sannon stepped up in their absences.
The Bradenton, Florida, native caught nine passes for 79 yards. Junior tight end Deon Watson picked up where he left off against Ohio and finished with six catches for 66 yards.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CabezaGarrett
Graphic by: Korbin McDonald