USC coach Lane Kiffin said in his postgame news conference, “This was not an easy game.”
That’s the truth and then some. From the very start of the game the Trojans seemed off. They failed to score on their first three possessions, there was a rash of penalties and things just didn’t seem to be clicking. Kiffin said it was a combination of the wet conditions, the turf, the weird energy in the stands due to the lack of attendance and the eventual weather delay.
The crowd was announced at 39,507 and it seemed even smaller in the large NFL stadium. For a USC team that had played last week in front of 93,000 adoring fans in a packed Coliseum, the atmosphere at MetLife Stadium wasn’t what they expected. And with the extended intermission for a threatened thunderstorm that never really arrived, it just added up to a strange day all the way around. It wasn’t until the teams came back on the field in the third quarter that things got going as Barkley finished a string of 11 straight completed passes that went for 124 yards and three touchdowns. Syracuse offered a challenge as they got their offense going too but Barkley just kept on hitting touchdowns until finally the game was out of reach.
It wasn’t an effort that was going to earn rave reviews on Broadway but Kiffin and the Trojans don’t much care about that. They faced a little adversity, kept their poise, kept fighting and came away with the victory. In the end, all that matters is the Trojans are 2-0 and on to Stanford.