Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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32 NOV. 26, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY COREY BODDEN O ver the last two seasons, Clay Helton was one of the hotter names in the college football coaching ranks after leading USC to 10 wins in 2016 and 11 victo- ries in 2017 during his first two full seasons at the helm. The two-year stretch included a Pac-12 title, a Rose Bowl win and a Cotton Bowl appearance — but a new era was set to begin with the exodus of some top talent. Quarterback Sam Darnold opted to bypass his last two years of college eligibility and was picked No. 3 overall by the New York Jets in the 2018 NFL Draft. In addi- tion, three other former Trojans — running back Ronald Jones (No. 38), linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (No. 48) and defensive end Rasheem Green (No. 79) — were selected in the sec- ond and third rounds of the draft. Expectations were still high for the Trojans heading into this season thanks to star-studded 18-man 2018 recruiting class that was comprised of five five-stars and 13 four-stars. Among the five-stars was quarter- back JT Daniels, who was ranked as the nation's No. 4 overall player by Rivals. However, Helton's third full season in charge has not gone as planned. USC opened the year with a 43-21 home win against UNLV, but suf- fered back-to-back road losses to Stanford (17-3) and Texas (37-14). The Trojans bounced back with three straight victories — including one over Washington State, which was OppOsite trajectOries The Fighting Irish and Trojans enter their rivalry matchup trending in different directions Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tyler Vaughns was USC's leading pass catcher through 10 games, notching 46 receptions for 535 yards and five touchdowns. PHOTO COURTESY USC

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