San Jose State keeps pace with No. 6 USC early, but upset bid falls short in opener

San Jose State keeps pace with No. 6 USC early, but upset bid falls short in opener

LOS ANGELES — Chevan Cordeiro passed for 198 yards and threw three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough as No. 6 USC totaled 501 yards of total offense to hand San Jose State a 56-28 loss in its season opener at the L.A. Coliseum Saturday night.

San Jose State quarterback Chevan Cordeiro (2) runs the ball as Southern California linebacker Mason Cobb (13) chases during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun) 

The Spartans entered the game as 31-point underdogs, but kept the game close in the first half as they trailed 21-14 going into halftime. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams led USC to 35 second-half points leading the Trojans to a dominant win at home.

“We didn’t make the plays we needed to, to stay in it and keep it close and that was disappointing,” said SJSU head coach Brent Brennan. “We have a couple of breakdowns that really hurt us. But that’s football. I think we have a resilient team.”

Nick Nash had a big night teaming with Cordeiro, catching six passes for 89 yards and three touchdowns.

“(Nick and I) have been building that connection since spring ball,” Cordeiro said. “Him being a quarterback really shows. He’s smart, he knows the coverages and he knows where he has to be to make me comfortable.”

Quali Conley rushed for 108 yards on just six carries in his debut with the Spartans. Conley, a junior, transferred to SJSU after rushing for 1,095 yards and eight touchdowns at Utah Tech last season.

The Spartans gained some momentum with eight seconds remaining in the first half after Cordeiro found Nash on the right sideline for a 28-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to just seven going into the second half. But the Trojans outscored the Spartans 21-7 in the third quarter capped off by a 96-yard kick return by USC freshman wide receiver Zachariah Branch.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 26: Kairee Robinson #32 of the San Jose State Spartans celebrates a touchdown with teammates Jaime Navarro #54, Anthony Pardue #74 and Skylar Loving-Black #86 during the second quarter against the USC Trojans at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 26, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) 

Williams didn’t play the whole game, but was efficient. He completed 18 of 25 attempts for 278 yards and four touchdowns.

Antioch’s Austin Jones was the Trojan’s leading rusher, gaining 54 yards on six carries. He scored two touchdowns, including a three-yard run early in the third quarter that helped USC begin to pull away for good.

Tight end Lake McRee #87 of the USC Trojans dives for the first down over cornerback Kenyon Reed #7 of the San Jose State Spartans in the second half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 26, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG) 

The Trojans improved to 6-0 all-time against the Spartans and have now beaten SJSU twice in the last three seasons. SJSU will go up against another PAC-12 foe when they face Oregon State at 12:30 p.m. in a rare Sunday game at CEFCU Stadium.

“I think we’re going to be a little bit more prepared for Oregon State and what they have to bring for us defensively,” Nash said. “We’re excited to play them.”