USC snapped Stanford’s nation-long 17-game home win streak.
USC Trojans running back Javorius “Buck” Allen (37) runs the ball against the Stanford Cardinals in the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. The Trojans defeated the Cardinals 13-10. (Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)
(C+P) — Where would USC be without Javorius “Buck” Allen?
When previous head coach Lane Kiffin was fired after Arizona State manhandled USC 62-41 in late September of last season, Allen was still buried on the depth chart behind Tre Madden, Justin Davis, and the departed Silas Redd.
Garbage time was the most action Allen had seen up to that point as he only had 20 rushing attempts. And despite rushing for 110 yards with a 5.5 rushing average and the firing, there was still no indication the Tallahassee (Fla.) native would play a meaningful role. The struggling offense was averaging 380 yards of total offense through the first five games.
But competition would open up for all positions with defensive line coach Ed Orgeron being named intern head coach for the remainder of the season, and naming Clay Helton as his offensive coordinator, left vacant by Kiffin’s firing.
The three tailbacks would go down one-by-one each week following the ASU dismantling, and Allen would finally have his chance to shine on Nov. 1 at Oregon State.
After rushing for 133 yards on 16 carries in USC’s 31-14 impressive victory over the Beavers, it was a known commodity that Allen would be that featured back USC had been looking for since the Pete Carroll days.
In a better way of putting it, Allen would be relied upon to be that go-to-back for the remainder of the season if USC’s offense would ever stall during a grind-it-out type of game.
Allen ended the year with 774 rushing yards on 134 carries, and 14 touchdowns. The Lincoln High School product would be voted the team’s offensive MVP as well.
When Needed the Most.
USC’s quest to end Stanford’s 17-game home win streak, the longest active in the nation, was only going to happen if the 6-1, 220-pounder was that workhorse used late last season.
Allen did just that. He ran for 154 yards on 23 carries to help USC escape 13-10 at ‘The Farm” on Saturday. The redshirt junior became the first 100-yard rusher against Stanford since Utah’s Bubba Poole rushed for 111 yards in the Utes upset against the Cardinal last season.
Allen, who has now rushed for 100 or more yards in six of his last eight games, needed every one of those yards to secure USC’s second consecutive victory over the Cardinal.
After manhandling Fresno State 52-13 with 701 yards of total offense on 105 plays last week, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian’s spread offense struggled to get anything going after a touchdown on its first possession.
USC would take a 7-0 lead after Stanford’s kicker Jordan Williamson missed a 49-yard field goal on its first possession.
But after that impressive 12-play, 68-yard drive, highlighted by Allen’s 38 rushing yards on six carries, USC would only manage 223 yards of total offense for the rest of the contest.
Those yards might seem like a lot against a typically strong Stanford defense that was 20th in the nation in total defense last season, but Stanford seemed to have USC’s number by limiting the Trojans to 59 offensive plays.
The offense struggled mightily as the Trojans went three-and-out on three of their next four possessions.
But USC’s fortunes would change on its next possession. After USC’s receiver George Farmer caught a 7-yard pass for a first down to the 34-yard line, Allen would break a 50-yard run to the Cardinal’s 16-yard line. That spark USC needed desperately set up a 25-yard chip shot field goal in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
Allen’s production might have been minimal at best in the first three quarters, even if USC produced only one first down during that span. But even little success like that 50-yard run can give a team confidence with the game on the line.
The offense manufactured 84 passing yards from quarterback Cody Kessler to that point, and finished the game with only 135 passing yards after having 424 yards the week before.
After Stanford punted to USC’s 7-yard line with seven minutes remaining, Allen would get USC’s offense going with runs of 14 and eight on consecutive plays before Kessler completed a 29-yard pass to receiver Nelson Agholor for a first down to Stanford’s 40-yard line.
USC’s offense would stall after that first down, as USC’s Andre Heidari would then nail a career-long 53-yard field with 2:30 remaining in the game. But let’s remember, USC might not have been in that situation late in the game without Allen’s relentless effort throughout the game.
It’s still early in the season, but Allen’s production in all phases of the game, including receiving and pass blocking will be much needed down the road if USC’s offense stalls again like it did against Stanford.
And, of course, to solidify a final four spot in college football’s new playoff.