Arlington, Texas – On Saturday, September 3, 2016, the USC Trojans were handed their worse defeat in 50 years by the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in front of 81,359 at AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys. The Trojans who entered the contest ranked 20th in the nation were held to 194 yards in the worst rout since a 51-0 defeat by Notre Dame in 1966.
USC quarterback Max Browne was 14 of 29 for 101 yards with one interception. “You’re well aware you’re playing the No. 1 team in the country, but at the same time, we think we’re right up there with them,” Browne said. “If you would have said this would be the outcome of the game midway through the second quarter, I would have said you were absolutely crazy. Like I said, a few plays here or there – it might sound crazy but it changes the course of the game.”
Considered by many to be the best wide receiver in the country, and the Pac-12’s 2015 top receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster had only one catch for nine yards. Smith-Schuster spent the entire game fighting off double-team coverage by the Crimson Tide. “We’ve been waiting for this game for a long time,” said wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. “It’s very tough. It kind of shows who we really are.”
Adoree’ Jackson, USC’s best all-around player gained 112 yards on his first four kickoff returns, and then Alabama refused to kick the ball to his side of the field. The Crimson Tide defense dominated the game holding USC rushers to 52 yards, 1.9 yards per carry. Trojan running back Justin Davis said, “They didn’t do anything crazy or special. They just outplayed us. We weren’t ready. That’s the thing that we have to take upon ourselves, to be more prepared for a team like this. Going forward, we have to be on our Ps and Qs to play a team of this caliber. We just can’t win off of talent.” The Trojans lost defender Jabari Ruffin who was ejected early in the game for stomping his foot into the groin area of Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was on the ground. Ruffin was disqualified immediately by referee Reggie Smith.
USC kicker Matt Boermeester put points on the board for the Trojans. In the first quarter, Boermeester kicked a 47-yard field goal to give the Trojans a 3-0 lead. USC would not score again until the third quarter when Boermeester kicked a 41-yard field goal after Alabama went on a 38-0 run from the first quarter.
Can we say ax to grind? This was a game that saw former USC head coach Lane Kiffin punish the Trojans as he spearheaded the unrelenting Crimson Tide offense. Jalen Hurts, Alabama’s true freshmen quarterback passed for 118 yards, and two touchdowns. Tide running back Damien Harris averaged 15.3 yards per carry and 138 total yards on the ground. At the end of the game, Kiffin warmly greeted his former players.
In a strange twist, former USC head coach, Steve Sarkisian was hired as an offensive consultant for Alabama. “We talked about it, really, quite a while ago,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said. “I told him that we’d love to have him as a part of the organization. He’s going through some personal things to get himself in a very positive position and wants to continue to do those things in the future.”
USC Head Coach Clay Helton summed up the game best, “I really thought, preparation-wise, we had come in the game and we were ready.” “And that’s on me, to be honest with you. And like I told them in there, I got no time to feel sorry for myself, neither do they in that room.”
Next up – the Trojans face Utah State, 11AM PT, The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.