There wasn’t much of a crowd at the Coliseum Saturday afternoon to watch USC play Boston College in football.
But there weren’t boos many for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin, either.
The Trojans bounced back from last week’s upset loss to Washington State by routing Boston College, 35-7.
USC (2-1) dominated in every phase of the game, including quarterback play.
Cody Kessler, making his first start knowing he had won – or not lost – the quarterback job, looked confident and was productive, completing 15 of 17 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns in a little more than three quarters.
“He played really well and the guys played well around him,” USC Coach Lane Kiffin said in a television interview afterward.
Still, Kiffin inserted backup Max Wittek into the game with 10 minutes 40 seconds to play.
Wittek then led an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive, taking the ball in himself on a two-yard run.
USC’s offense, stagnant in a loss against Washington State last week, set a different tone early. On the first play of the game, Kessler wound up and threw a bomb toward Marqise Lee.
The pass was barely overthrown, but it received a roar of approval anyway from the small crowd.
The Trojans continued to run the ball well, led by Tre Madden, who reached triple digits in rushing for the third consecutive game, finishing with 102 yards and a touchdown in 16 carries. Madden also caught three passes for 32 yards and a touchdown.
Freshman Justin Davis also looked good, running shifty and nifty on a couple of plays to finish with 96 yards rushing in 10 carries, including a score from 17 yards out.
USC out-gained Boston College, 521-184. The Eagles (2-1) got on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter on 29-yard run by Tyler Rouse.
USC has not posted a shutout since routing UCLA, 50-0, in the final game of the 2011 season.
USC 35, Boston College 7 (4:22 left in fourth quarter)
At about 235 pounds, USC quarterback Max Wittek looks a little like a fullback.
He just ran like one.
Wittek faked a handoff, rolled to his right, and instead of throwing a short pass tucked the ball under his arm and powered into the end zone from two yards out.
USC drove 75 yards in 11 plays and Wittek completed both of his passes, for gains totaling 27 yards.
Max Wittek now in the game for USC at quarterback.
USC 28, Boston College 7 (10:40 left in fourth quarter)
USC was going for its first shutout since the Trojans routed UCLA, 50-0, in the final game of the 2011 season.
So much for that.
Tyler Rouse ran 29 yards for a touchdown, capping a six-play, 68-yard drive.
Boston College had rushed for only 79 yards before Rouse broke loose.
USC 28, Boston College 0 (13:30 left in fourth quarter)
Tre Madden is well on his way to a third consecutive 100-yard rushing day, but freshman Justin Davis is also showing what he can do.
Davis scored on a nifty 17-yard run, giving him 96 yards in 10 carries.
USC 21, Boston College 0 (end of third quarter)
The Trojans have generated 380 yards of offense and are threatening going into the fourth quarter.
Freshman tailback Justin Davis just broke off a 39-yard run, giving the Trojans a first down at the Boston College 43.
Tre Madden has rushed for 102 yard sin 16 carries and Davis has 65 yards in seven carries.
Cody Kessler has completed 14 of 15 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
USC 21, Boston College 0 (4:15 left in the third quarter)
Tre Madden scored on a 30-yard touchdon run to put the Trojans comfortably ahead.
Defensive end Leonard Williams helped set up the four-play, 52-yard scoring drive by stopping Boston College running back Andre Williams on a fourth-and-one play at USC's 46-yard line.
Cody Kessler had 10- and 15-yard completions to receiver Nelson Agholor to set up Madden's scoring run.
Madden has rushed for 102 yards in 16 carries, the third consecutive 100-yard rushing effort by the third-year sophomore.
USC 14, Boston College 0 (halftime)
Cody Kessler has passed for two touchdowns and the Trojans defense is living up to its billing before a smallish crowd at the Coliseum.
Kessler has completed 11 of 12 passes for 174 yards. His touchdown passes covered five yards to tailback Tre Madden and 80-yards on a catch-and-run by receiver Marqise Lee.
Madden has rushed for 65 yards in 13 carries.
USC has outgained Boston College, 253-63. The Trojans, however, have converted only one of five third-down opportunities.
Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig has completed seven of 13 passes for 34 yards.
Andre Williams has gained 29 yards in 10 carries.
USC 14, Boston College (7:23 left in the second quarter)
Marqise Lee alsmost scored another touchdown.
Freshman Leon McQuay III blocked a Boston College punt that Lee scooped up and took to the end zone.
But USC was penalized for being offside, nullifying the play.
USC 14, Boston College (8:49 left in the second quarter)
Well, there's the Marqise Lee we all remember.
Lee caught a pass from Cody Kessler, slipped one would-be tackler and raced down the sideline in front of the Trojans bench for an 80-yard touchdown.
It was Lee's first touchdown of the season.
It also was Lee's 208th career reception, putting him in third place on USC's all-time list behind Robert Woods (252) and Dwayne Jarrett (216).
Lee has two catches for 90 yards.
USC 7, Boston College 0 (9:03 left in second quarter)
USC's defense is at it again.
The Trojans, the top rushing defense in major college football, have limited Boston College running back Andre Williams to nine yards in seven carries. Last week, Williams rushed for 204 yards against Wake Forest.
Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig has completed six of eight passes for 34 yards, but Trojans cornerback Josh Shaw just ended a drive by making a big hit running back David Dudek after he caught a pass.
The Trojans have limited Boston College to 43 total yards.
USC 7, Boston College 0 (end of first quarter)
Cody Kessler obviously is feeling confident now that he is the undisputed starting quarterback
The third-year sophomore has completed six of seven passes fro 67 yards and a touchdown. He has completed passes to six different receivers.
Tight ends Randall Telfer, Xavier Grimble, receivers Marqise Lee and De'Von Flournoy and tailback Tre Madden have receptions.
The Trojans have outgained Boston College, 123-31.
USC 7, Boston College (1:38 left in first quarter)
Cody Kessler passed to running back Tre Madden for a five-yard touchdown that gave USC the early lead.
Madden carried the ball seven times, including runs of 10, 11 and 15 yards during the 14-play, 86-yard drive that took 7 minutes 44 seconds to complete.
Kessler kept alive the drive with a third-down pass to Marqise Lee after escaping pressure.
Kessler has completed five of six passes for 46 yards.
Madden has rushed for 54 yards in 10 carries.
It has to rank and the loudest cheers ever for an incomplete pass.
On the first play of the game, USC quarterback Cody Kessler faked a handoff, dropped back and threw a deep pass to receiver Marqise Lee. Kessler just barely overthrew the Biletnikoff Award winner.
Instead of booing, the smallish crowd at the Coliseum roared its approval because Coach Lane Kiffin opened the playbook.
We'll see if it continues.
Boston College's first visit to the Coliseum since 1987 comes at a delicate time for USC, which is looking to rebound from last week's dismal offensive performance in a loss to Washington State.
USC Coach Lane Kiffin has entrusted Cody Kessler with the starting quarterback role and the responsibility of revitalizing an offense that, so far on home turf, has done little other than ignite chants of "Fire Kiffin" from the Trojans' faithful.
Kessler told The Times earlier this week he feels more confident knowing he has "the keys to the car. The newfound semblance of stability at the QB position for the first time this season might be what the Trojans need to jumpstart their offense. If it doesn't work, Kiffin is sure to hear about it again.
Check out this breakdown of the USC-Boston College matchup for more insight into today's game.