LOS ANGELES (AP) — Those "Fire Kiffin" chants were nowhere to be heard Saturday. But Southern California coach Lane Kiffin realizes they could return at any time.
Cody Kessler passed for 237 yards and two touchdowns, Tre Madden became the first USC player to open a season with three straight 100-yard rushing games in 32 years and the Trojans bounced back from an embarrassing loss to Pac-12 doormat Washington State to beat Boston College 35-7.
The game was Kessler's first since he was designated USC's first-string quarterback by Kiffin, and the redshirt sophomore responded by completing 14 straight passes after misfiring on his first attempt. Kessler wound up going 15-of-17 without being intercepted before being relieved by Max Wittek early in the fourth quarter.
Kessler and Wittek shared QB duties in USC's first two games and combined to pass for just 54 yards — the Trojans' lowest single-game total since 1998 — in a 10-7 setback to the Cougars last weekend, prompting local fans to chant for Kiffin's ouster.
"We have to live with what happened last week," Kiffin said. "I'm really happy for our players and our fans. We had to win today."
Kessler knew he was going to share his position with Wittek in the first two games. That wasn't the case against Boston College after Kiffin's announcement last Monday, and Kessler said that made a big difference.
"That gave me the whole week to get prepared the way I can, a whole new confidence, I guess," Kessler said. "It was just very exciting to get that rhythm. It was really unfortunate we got booed last week. At the same time, we deserved it."
The Trojans (2-1) rolled up 521 yards in total offense while holding the Eagles (2-1) to just 184 yards. USC has allowed just 30 points in its three games.
"Our first-team defense was lights out," Kiffin said.
The Coliseum crowd of 62,006 roared its approval when Kessler just missed connecting with Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee on a deep pass over the middle on the game's first play. The Trojans seldom threw the ball downfield in the loss to Washington State.
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