Fourth-ranked USC and Texas will meet Saturday for the first time since their epic clash at the 2006 Rose Bowl, with the host Trojans looking for their 12th straight victory dating to last season. USC is coming off an impressive 42-24 home victory against then-No. 14 Stanford in its Pac-12 opener last Saturday.
The Trojans are off to a fine start because they’ve received solid play at nearly every offensive skill position, with running back Ronald Jones II registering 275 rushing yards and five touchdowns at 6.7 yards per carry. The Longhorns were gouged by Maryland for 263 rushing yards in their season-opening loss, including 132 on 12 carries by Ty Johnson - a 1,000-yard rusher like Jones last season. Texas didn’t accomplish much in its 56-0 victory against San Jose State last week, but it did give freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger a chance to make his college debut after Shane Buechele was a late scratch because of a sore shoulder. Ehlinger passed the test by completing 15-of-27 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown while running for another 47 yards without committing a turnover, but putting up solid numbers against the Trojans would be asking a lot of the 10th true freshman ever to start a game at Texas.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: USC -15
ABOUT TEXAS (1-1): Look for the Longhorns to try and put together some long drives and keep USC’s offense off the field as long as possible. Chris Warren III would be a good candidate after rushing for 166 yards and two touchdowns last week, and Kyle Porter provides Texas a solid second option in the rushing attack. Ehlinger, should he get a second consecutive start, also is a much better runner than Buechele and should be able to help move the chains that way.
ABOUT USC (2-0): The Trojans still have plenty of room for improvement on the offensive side of the ball - particularly at quarterback, as Sam Darnold has been intercepted four times on 59 pass attempts. He was picked off just nine times on 366 throws last season, but defenses are preparing more diligently for the sophomore. Don’t look for Darnold to drop back repeatedly against Texas if he doesn’t need to, as the rushing attack figures to be strong enough to help put at least 40 points on the board for a third consecutive game.
1. USC’s 11-game winning streak is its longest since capturing 12 in a row in 2008-09.
2. Jones has recorded at least one rushing TD in each of his last nine games.
3. Texas has scored four non-offensive touchdowns this season after recording none last campaign.
PREDICTION: USC 48, Texas 21