While most of the country was sleeping, USC quarterback Caleb Williams was doing what he does best.
Putting on a show.
The defending Heisman Trophy winner completed 19-of-21 passes for 281 yards and 3 touchdowns, adding a 21-yard touchdown run of his own, as the Trojans built a 49-0 halftime lead over the visiting Cardinal.
He only played on seven offensive possessions.
Williams opened the scoring for USC early in the first quarter. After the Trojans received the opening kickoff, USC drove down the field and faced a first down just outside the red zone. Williams meets the running back at the mesh point and, with the defensive end crashing inside, decides to pull the football and test the edge.
He passes the test with flying colors:
The quarterback dances into the open field and picks up a pair of blockers to slice inside the 5-yard line. But with one more defender in his way, the quarterback lowers his shoulder and drives through him, and into the end zone for USC’s first score of the night.
USC was already out to a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter when Williams dialed up a little magic in the pocket:
Stanford rushes just three on the play, using a linebacker to spy the quarterback as well. But while they drop seven into coverage, Williams is able to buy time, dancing around in the pocket before flushing to his right. That gives wide receiver Dorian Singer time to break free deep in the secondary, and Williams fires a dart that hits Singer in stride for the score.
On the Trojans’ ensuing possession, Williams decided to show off his arm strength. After meeting his running back at the mesh point in the backfield, the QB uses a half rollout to the right, before setting up at his own 20-yard line to launch a rocket downfield:
Wide receiver Brenden Rice settles under this throw at the Stanford 20-yard line, with the throw covering in excess of 60 yards in the air as the receiver is on the left hashmark. Rice skips into the end zone as the Trojans build a 39-point lead.
And Williams adds yet another clip to his seemingly endless highlight reel.
USC went on to a 56-10 win in what might be the last game between these old Pac-12 rivals for a while. The Trojans are on their way to the Big Ten next season, while the Cardinal are headed to the ACC. This was not lost on the Trojans and their head coach, Lincoln Riley.
“We’re proud of taking advantage of the moment, in that this is potentially the last SC-Stanford game for a while,” said Riley after the win. “This was a series that we talked with the team a lot last year. This was a series that in recent years had went a little bit of a different way. I’m really, big-picture, proud to be able to get the final last two here. It was important for us to seize the moment and opportunity.”
The Trojans now get a bye week before things get much tougher, schedule-wise. USC faces Arizona State coming off a bye, and they close out September with a game against Colorado that currently looks fascinating thanks to the start from the Buffaloes.
October and November are even tougher, at least at the moment. October sees the Trojans take on Notre Dame and USC in back-to-back games, a pair of teams ranked in the Top 15. November has both Washington and Oregon on the schedule in back-to-back weeks, another pair of Top-15 teams.
But with Williams delivering highlight-reel moments like these, another Heisman might just be in the cards.
Along with even bigger things for the Trojans.