LOS ANGELES – Kody Kessler settled in the pocket and calmly surveyed his receivers, eventually choosing JuJu Smith-Schuster as he sprinted down the middle for a beautiful 50-yard touchdown.
The whole thing looked a bit like practice for eighth-ranked Southern California. With no offense to overmatched Idaho, that’s how the Trojans treated their final game before their serious competition begins.
Kessler threw for a career-high 410 yards and hit Smith-Schuster with two of his three touchdown passes, leading the Trojans past Idaho 59-9 Saturday night.
Smith-Schuster set career highs with 10 catches for 192 yards as the Trojans (2-0) amassed 738 total yards and routed a Sun Belt Conference opponent for the second straight week.
“These first two games were very important for us because now we’re going into Pac-12 play,” Kessler said. “Last week, we improved a ton. … Our biggest thing in practice all week was knowing that we’ve hit those plays a million times. Practice makes perfect.”
Kessler went 26 for 31 with no interceptions, hitting Isaac Whitney for a 28-yard score in the second half. USC’s senior quarterback has passed for 650 yards and seven TDs while beating Arkansas State and Idaho (0-2) by a combined 99 points.
The Trojans’ schedule gets tougher next week when Stanford visits the Coliseum, but they were reasonably close to perfect against the Vandals.
USC led 38-3 at halftime after racking up 434 yards on just 46 plays, with Justin Davis and Tre Madden scoring two touchdowns apiece. Every eligible player got into the game for USC, which pleased coach Steve Sarkisian.
“We jumped out on (Idaho), which is probably what we should have done,” he said. “It was a great win, but we understand what lies ahead.”
Freshman Ronald Jones II rushed for 83 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown for the Trojans, who followed up last week’s 55-6 victory over Arkansas State with another laugher.
Matt Linehan passed for 194 yards for the Vandals (0-2), who got $1.1 million to travel to the schools’ second meeting since the 1920s. Jacob Sannon caught nine passes for 79 yards, and Trent Cowan had a TD catch as Idaho dropped to 2-23 under coach Paul Petrino.
“We got beat, but there were times where I thought our offense played pretty good,” Petrino said. “There was one drive where Matt looked good. Other than that, they were better than us.”
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