The Coliseum has hosted numerous historic football games, and another may be coming up Saturday when two teams with rich traditions, No. 6 USC and No. 14 Stanford, meet at 5:30.
The game between 1-0 teams carries Pac-12 and national implications.
USC’s 49-21 win over Western Michigan last Saturday was a good test for the Trojans. Although Western Michigan does not scare a lot of people, it is a very good football team. At 13-1 last year, they have won 40 and lost 23 during the last six years.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold was not having his usual outstanding day, so the Trojans turned to the ground game.
Junior Ronald Jones II ran the ball 18 times for 159 yards and freshman Stephen Carr had 69 yards on seven carries.
“Stephen is very explosive,” said Coach Clay Helton. “He reminds me of this guy,” Helton said as he tapped Jones who was sitting next to him.
If the Trojans expect to beat Stanford they must stop the Cardinal running game.
Western Michigan gained 263 yards on the ground. Part of USC’s problem was the absence in the first half of their defensive leader, inside linebacker Cameron Smith.
Smith had been suspended for the first half because he had been ejected from the last game he played. In last January’s Rose Bowl, he made an illegal hit on a Penn State player.
With Smith back for the second half, the Trojan defense improved.
“Cameron is a team captain and a very good player,” said Coach Helton. “Our defense got better when he returned.”
Among the storylines, none was bigger than a blind Western Michigan player.
Jake Olsen, a 225-pound long snapper on the kicking team, lost his sight when he was 12 years old. He made his college debut during the last few minutes of the fourth quarter.
“It was an awesome feeling,” Olsen said. “I never will forget it.
“I still can’t believe it but I had a job to do. This team is like a family. It’s a brotherhood.”
Mr. Finley may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org