All the usual good-game indicators went out the window for California at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The Golden Bears ran nearly 100 plays without a turnover, had 483 total yards, and held a time-of-possession edge over USC of more than 11 minutes.
And got crushed, 62-28 -- the most points scored by the Trojans since they defeated Washington State, 69-0, on Oct. 18, 2008.
All because USC running back Jarvorius Allen and receiver Nelson Agholor insisted on playing a game of “Can You Top This?”
Agholor touched the ball seven times and had 205 all-purpose yards, a record 168 yards on punt returns he took back for touchdowns, the first covering 75 yards and the second 93.
Allen also touched the ball seven times. He gained 192 yards and scored three touchdowns – on runs for 43 and 79 yards and a short pass he took 57 yards.
For good measure, freshman Ty Isaac got a chance to play and gained 87 yards in 11 carries, including touchdown runs of four and 37 yards.
USC improved to 7-3 overall and 4-2 in Pac-12 Conference play. The Trojans are 4-1 under interim Coach Ed Orgeron.
Cal fell to 1-9 overall and 0-7 in conference games under first-year Coach Sonny Dykes.
Agholor established a school record for punt return yards, surpassing Mike Garrett, who had 162 yards and scored twice on punt returns against Cal in 1965.
USC also tied an NCAA record with three punt returns for touchdowns. The other was turned in when Soma Vainuku blocked a Cal punt and Josh Shaw snatched it out of the air and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown.
Allen finished with 135 yards rushing in six carries as USC ran for 256 yards even though top back Silas Redd was limited to 19 yards in six carries before leaving the game in the first half with an injured right knee.
Quarterback Cody Kessler completed 14 of 17 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. He was replaced midway through the third quarter by Max Wittek, who completed three of four passes for 73 yards.
Jared Goff completed 34 of 48 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns for Cal.
Here's a game recap:
USC goes three and out and hurts its per-play average, netting just one yard.
Ty Isaac, in his bid to reach triple digits in rushing, lost two yards in two carries and is down to 88 yards.
Cal has run 90 plays.
USC 62, Cal 28 (5:08 left in fourth quarter)
Credit Cal's offense. The Bears are still playing hard.
Jared Goff hit Kenny Lawler with a three-yard scoring pass to finish off a 12-play, 75-yard drive.
The bad news for the Bears:
USC, which is averaging better than 10 yards a play, now gets the ball.
USC 62, Cal 21 (10:34 left in fourth quarter)
Well, about freshman Ty Isaac...
He has scored on a 37-yard run and now has 90 yards in nine carries.
USC's 62 points is the most the Trojans have scored in a game since they defeated Washington State, 69-0, on Oct. 18, 2008.
USC held off a Cal scoring threat when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
USC takes over from its own 13, and the only thing in doubt is whether fourth-string tailback Ty Isaac will become the fifth Trojans running back this season to hit 100 yards.
USC 55, California 21 (end of third quarter)
USC reserves are getting an opportunity for playing time as the Trojans try to get out of Northern California without major harm heading into next week's game against Stanford.
Tailback Silas Redd has not played since early in the first half and receiver Marqise Lee caught only one pass for 13 yards.
USC has outgained Cal, 394 yards to 349.
Javorius Allen has rushed for two touchdowns and also scored on a pass play. Nelson Agholor returned two punts for touchdowns.
USC 55, California 21 (3:36 left in the third quarter)
California running back Khalfani Muhammad, a former standout at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High, scored on a seven-yard run for the Golden Bears.
Muhammad, a freshman, has rushed for 49 yards in eight carries. He also has one reception for four yards.
Cal quarterback Jared Goff has completed 26 of 35 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns.
USC has outgained Cal, 396-310.
USC 55, California 14 (7:22 left in the third quarter)
Freshman tailback Ty Isaac scored his first USC touchdown on a four-yard run.
Isaac also had an 18-yard gain on a drive directed by back-up quarterback Max Wittek.
Cody Kessler is apparently done for the game. He completed 15 of 18 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
USC has gained 378 yards.
USC 48, California 14 (10:42 left in the third quarter)
Javorius Allen scored on a 79-yard touchdown run to keep the rout going.
Allen also has scored on a 43-yard run and 57-yard pass play.
Allen, who scored three touchdowns last week against Oregon State, has rushed for 135 yards in six carries.
The Trojans have rushed for 160 yards.
USC quarterback Cody Kessler has completed 14 of 17 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
USC 41, California 14 (halftime)
There's a pretty darn good chance that Nelson Agholor will be the Pac-12 Conference special teams player of the week.
Agholor scored on punt returns of 75 and 93 yards, and Josh Shaw returned a blocked punt 14 yards to help give the Trojans a comfortable lead.
At one time, the Golden Bears pulled to within 21-14, but the Trojans scored on Javorius Allen's 57-yard catch and run for a touchdown, Shaw's return and Agholor's second return.
Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler has completed 11 of 14 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
Agholor has four catches for 35 yards.
Cal quarteback Jared Goff has completd 19 of 28 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
USC 41, California 14 (3:47 left in the second quarter)
Nelson Agholor tied a Pac-12 Conference record with a his second punt return for a touchdown.
The sophomore, who scored on a 75-yard return in the first quarter, raced 93 yards for his second touchdown.
Mike Garrett returned two punts for touchdowns against Cal in 1965. Two other players also share the record.
The Trojans' three punt returns for touchdowns ties the NCAA record for most touchdowns on punt returns by a team.
USC 35, California 14 (6:43 left in the second quarter)
USC's Soma Vainuku blocked a punt by Cole Leininger and cornerback Josh Shaw caught the ball and retruned it 14 yards for a touchdown.
It was the second punt returned for a touchdown by the Trojans. Nelson Agholor scored on a 75-yard return.
Shaw also scored a touchdown in the opener against Hawaii on an interception return.
USC 28, California 14 (7:22 left in the second quarter)
Javorius Allen caught a short pass from Cody Kessler and turned it into a 43-yard touchdown to increase the Trojans' lead to 14 points.
It was Allen's second touchdown of the game.
Kessler has completed 10 of 13 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Allen has rushed for 58 yards in four carries, including a 43-yard scoring run.
USC 21, California 14 (9:41 left in the second quarter)
All of a sudden, the Trojans have a game on their hands.
Cal quarterback Jared Goff handed the ball off to running back Daniel Lasco, who then tossed the ball back to Goff. The freshman quarterback then delivered a 24-yard touchdown pass to Daruis Powe to pull Cal to within seven points.
Goff has completed 14 of 18 passes for 105 yards. He has completed passes to seven receivers.
USC 21, California 7 (12:47 left in the second quarter)
Former Upland High receiver Kenny Lawler is off to a good start for Cal.
Lawler, who caught three touchdown psses last week against Arizona, just nabbed a four-yard pass from Jared Goff to pull the Golden Bears to within 14 points of the Trojans.
Lawler has three receptions for 31 yards, including a 21-yard catch that gave Cal first and goal at the Trojans' 10-yard line.
USC 21, California 0 (end of first quarter)
Javorius Allen has picked up where he left off.
The sophomore tailback, who scored three touchdowns last week against Oregon State, broke off a 43-yard touchdown run with 1:37 left in the quarter.
Allen gained one yard in two carries before breaking off right tackle for his sixth touchdown of the season.
Tailback Silas Redd, who scored a touchdown the previous series, spent the last one on the trainer's table having his legs examined.
USC has outgained Cal, 134 yards to 61.
Quarterback Cody Kessler has completed six of eight passes for 60 yards and a touchdown.
USC 14, California 0 (5:05 left in the first quarter)
Senior tailback Silas Redd turned a screen pass into a 12-yard touchdown to cap a 13-play, 79-yard drive.
Redd, who rushed for 140 yards in last week's victory at Oregon State, was the workhorse during the drive, carrying six times for 19 yards.
Quarterback Cody Kessler has completed four of six passes for 43 yards.
Kessler had a key third-down completion to Nelson Agholor at the start of the drive.
Cal quarterback Jared Goff has completed six of eight passes for 26 yards.
USC 7, California 0 (13:05 left in the first quarter)
Well, that didn't take long.
A week after scoring on its first offensive play against Oregon State, USC scored the first time it touched the ball against the Golden Bears.
Nelson Agholor returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown to put the Trojans ahead.
Against Oregon State, Agholor sustained several hard tackles by failing to signal for fair catches. He did so as the game progressed.
But Agholor showed no fear against Cal.
He caught the ball, broke up the middle and then to the Cal sideline before changing direction and sprinting to the goal line.
USC freshmen Su'a Cravens and Leon McQuay III will be the starting safeties when the Trojans play California in a game that kicks off at noon.
Cravens sat out last week's victory at Oregon State because of a groin injury he sustained while returning an interception against Utah.
McQuay started in Cravens' place against Oregon State.
Cravens has three interceptions, McQuay one.
USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams apparently will not play today against California because of a shoulder injury.
Trojans' linemen just came out for warmups at Memorial Stadium and Williams is not in uniform.
This is USC's first visit to Strawberry Canyon since 2009. The Trojans defeated the Golden Bears at AT&T Park in San Francisco in 2011.
USC meets a Cal team that features numerous freshmen and sophomores in key positions, including quarterback Jared Goff.
Cal has not defeated USC since 2003, when the Golden Bears won here in triple overtime.
Klein reported from Berkeley, Hiserman from Los Angeles.
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