USC football opens season behind electrifying Zachariah Branch debut

The freshman put up 232 all-purpose yards in the 28-point victory.

  • Brooks Taylor / Daily Trojan

Look back at our live coverage.

Junior quarterback Caleb Williams threw four touchdowns and freshman receiver Zachariah Branch had an electric debut en route to a 56-28 victory for USC over San Jose State in their season opener at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. 

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner picked up right where he left off in his second season with the Trojans, completing 18 of 25 passes for 278 yards.

Trojan fans were able to see live why Zachariah Branch was ranked as the number one receiver in the 2023 recruiting class. He finished his thrilling debut with 232 all-purpose yards and two scores including a dazzling 96-yard kickoff return.

The Trojans struck first after Williams threw a 13-yard dart to Dorian Singer for the touchdown. Singer’s first touchdown in a USC uniform capped off a 10-play 80-yard drive.

The Spartans responded on their next drive, evening the score at 7-7 after a one-yard touchdown rush by running back Kairee Robinson. 

Then, late in the second quarter, Caleb Williams brought out his Heisman magic that fans were accustomed to seeing last season. After dropping the snap, Williams had the wherewithal to pick up the ball and launch it to the wide-open redshirt senior wide receiver Tahj Washington for a 76-yard touchdown to give the Trojans a 14-7 lead.

Redshirt senior running back Austin Jones extended the Trojans’ lead to 21-7 after punching it in from the 2-yard line.

Jones was a major contributor in the victory, rushing for 54 yards and two scores.

After a slow start, the USC defense, which has been a major talking point throughout the offseason, started to heat up, forcing two straight three-and-outs in the second quarter. 

However, they gave up a costly touchdown with eight seconds left in the half, with SJSU quarterback Chevan Cordeiro connecting with wide receiver Nick Nash on a 28-yard strike. 

Despite the loss, Cordeiro put up a valiant effort, throwing for 198 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 52 rushing yards. Nash also had a huge game, tallying six receptions for 89 yards and three touchdowns.

The Trojans went into the locker room with a 21-14 lead despite being 31.5-point favorites going into the game.

USC finished off their dominant offensive performance with a Miller Moss 4-yard touchdown run.

© University of Southern California/Daily Trojan. All rights reserved.