USC Starts Lincoln Riley Era With Three Pick-Sixes

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The USC Trojans pulled off the coup of the offseason, prying star head coach Lincoln Riley away from the Oklahoma Sooners.

2021 resulted in a miserable 4-8 season for SC, with the highlight for Trojan fans coming when former head coach Clay Helton was finally let go in September after just two games.

Thanks to high profile transfers like Caleb Williams and Jordan Addison, expectations for this season have been running rampant, with a potential Pac-12 title the least of the team’s goals.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 03: Head coach Lincoln Riley of the USC Trojans celebrates a touchdown with Caleb Williams #13, to take a 14-7 lead over the Rice Owls, during the second quarter at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 03, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

So far, the Trojans are living up to the hype.

They opened their season on Saturday with a dominant 66-14 win over Rice, easily covering the 32.5 point spread.

That’s not particularly surprising. But what is surprising is how they got there.

The SC defense managed three pick-sixes, one short of the FBS record set by Florida International University in 2005. It was also the first time a program had that many pick sixes since Alabama in 2015.

The first came with 9:14 left in the second quarter, when defensive back Calen Bullock took one back 93 yards to give the Trojans a 28-3 lead.

Then on the first drive of the second half, linebacker Shane Lee returned his interception 40 yards for the second pick-six of the day.

Finally, on the very next offensive drive for Rice, Ralen Goforth completed the trifecta with a 31-yard return.

Hard to start off better than that.

Obviously Rice is not the highest quality foe, but the Trojans did everything an elite team is supposed to do against inferior opposition.

New starting quarterback Caleb Williams went 19-22 for 249 yards with 2 TD’s, transfer running back Austin Jones added two more touchdowns, and the offense as a whole racked up well over 500 total yards.

But the real, unexpected story was that the SC defense was nearly record setting. After the impressive win, the Trojans will head to Stanford next weekend for their first true test of the season.

Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, author, and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, traveling, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter @ianmSC

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