LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cody Kessler threw for 394 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another and No. 15 Southern California ended a trying week with a 52-13 win over Fresno State in Steve Sarkisian’s debut as the Trojans’ head coach.
The Trojans ran a school- and Pac-12 record 105 plays while racking up 37 first downs and 701 yards of total offense to Fresno State’s 16 first downs and 317 yards.
In all, 10 different Trojans caught passes in Sarkisian’s up-tempo offense.
For USC, the victory comes at the end of a distracting week for Sarkisian, punctuated by a tale of heroism by suspended defensive captain Josh Shaw that turned out to be a lie. Backup running back Anthony Brown also quit the team and called Sarkisian a racist, an allegation the coach and other players vehemently denied.
For the Bulldogs, the loss was their third straight in the series to USC.
The Trojans scored early and kept going, with Nelson Agholor leading the way with two first-half touchdown grabs.
Freshmen played a prominent part in the game as tight end Bryce Dixon and two-way player Adoree Jackson each had TD catches. Freshman JuJu Smith had four catches for 123 yards.
Tailback Buck Allen led the USC ground attack with 133 yards on 22 carries, including a nine-yard scoring run. Justin Davis added 30 yards on 12 carries.
Fresno State alternated quarterbacks Brian Burrell and Duke transfer Brandon Connette. Burrell was 11 of 19 with one interception and was the more productive of the two.
Tailback Marteze Waller scored both touchdowns for the Bulldogs. He finished with 97 yards on 16 carries.