Shane Foley’s USC-Boston College Preview


Former USC Quarterback (1986-1990) Shane Foley previews the Trojans’ Week 3 non-conference matchup with Boston College (1-1, 0-1 ACC).

Week 2 Aftermath

The AP rewarded USC with a no. 9 ranking following its win over Stanford. This is the school’s first appearance in the Top 10 since 2012. On the other hand, plenty of critics have called the win ugly and expressed doubt about USC. Some discredited Stanford rather than recognize USC’s effort.

Sep 6, 2014; Stanford, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian celebrates in the fourth quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. USC defeated Stanford 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The reality is that it is one win. It was a huge, emotional victory for the Trojans and coach Steve Sarkisian. USC and Washington, under Sark, had lost four of the last five years to the Cardinal. Stanford had emerged as the big bad bully in the Pac-12 North that was winning with a tough brand of football. They’ve won back to back conference ‎championships, punched Oregon’s “‎quack attack” in the mouth the last two years and have yet to taste defeat from Jim Mora’s UCLA. Watching the NCAA restore Penn State to 85 scholarships next year was one more indictment on the biased and corrupt governing body.

On Saturday, the Trojans traveled 57 scholarship players to do battle with Stanford’s 85. USC’s best defensive player rolled his ankle last week, the right guard dislocated his knee cap‎ and its starting quarterback had toe surgery. However, there were not, nor will there ever be, excuses. The Trojans went toe to toe with the Cardinal for four quarters and made the big plays with the game on the line.

It was a great game to build on. It showed that they can trade punches and grind out a tight game against a tough, physical opponent.  Every year a team develops its identity with new players, coaches and transfers who make that team unique. The Trojans have shown mental toughness in blocking out distractions, resolve in winning a tight ball game on the road, and humility in winning graciously.

Boston College

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The Trojans travel across the country to take on Boston College (1-1) who are coming off a 30-20 ACC-opening home loss to Pittsburgh. USC has won all four meetings with the Eagles, including their convincing 35-7 win last September at the Coliseum. Searching for its fifth consecutive road win, USC must avoid a letdown after its emotional win at the Farm.

Boston College is led by 6-2, 213-lb. senior Tyler Murphy, a transfer from Florida. He is a dual-threat quarterback who rushed 16 times for 92 yards and a touchdown last week. But Murphy only completed 10 of his 28 passes for 134 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

The Trojans won the turnover battle against Stanford, capitalizing on two fumbles that changed the momentum of the game and then sealed the victory. BC has yet to lose a fumble, but Murphy has already thrown three picks and only six schools have more interceptions than the opportunistic USC secondary

The Eagles gave up 303 yards on the ground to Pittsburgh last week so there could be some opportunity for the Trojans to pound the football. Boston College has lost 11 straight games to ranked opponents by an average of 16.6 points. USC has shown solid versatility with a record-setting offensive performance in the season opener and resilient defense against the Cardinal.


USC’s up-tempo offense was neutralized by the Cardinal. Coach Shaw was determined to control the clock and Stanford won the time of possession game 33:47 to 26:13. Based on what the Cardinal defense gave him, Sarkisian’s conservative offense only ran 59 plays compared to the conference record-setting 103 the week before. Look for the Trojans to get back to the blistering pace they used against Fresno State.

Sep 6, 2014; Stanford, CA, USA; USC Trojans quarterback

Cody Kessler

(6) looks to pass the ball against the Stanford Cardinal in the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. The Trojans defeated the Cardinal 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

While Javorius Allen scampered for a career-best 154 yards on 23 carries last Saturday, Cody Kessler and the passing game took a back seat. The Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week in the opener only threw the ball 22 times, completing 15 of them for 135 yards. Though there are only two games’ worth of evidence, BC trots out a much improved pass defense. After allowing 278 yards per game in 2013, good for 111th, the Golden Eagles have clamped down on opposing receivers. They currently rank 15th in that category, surrendering 129 passing yards per game. But coach Steve Addazio has yet to face a receiving core like the Trojans’. Expect JuJu Smith, Adoree Jackson and the rest of that crew to have bounce-back games.

USC is currently ranked 10th in the country in third down conversion at 56.3 percent.  They are 14th in scoring defense at 11.5 points per game. Statistics are nice to measure what a team has been doing but this game presents the Trojans with an opportunity to take the next step this season. There does not need to be any talk about a Top-10 ranking, the College Football Playoff, or passing UCLA in the rankings. It is about getting better, being focused, staying humble, playing as a team and always Fighting On!

Beat the Eagles!

Shane Foley is a former USC Quarterback (1986-1990) and freelance writer for LA Sports Hub. Read more of Shane’s thoughts on the USC Trojans, Pac-12 Football, and Los Angeles area sports at