SANTA CLARA — Ronald Jones moved into the top-five of USC’s all-time rushing list on Friday night with his first carry in the Pac-12 Conference championship game.
Jones dashed up the middle for 11 yards, also the Trojans’ first play from scrimmage, to surpass O.J. Simpson.
The junior running back entered needing 8 yards to catch up to Simpson, who ran for 3,423 yards in two seasons at USC from 1967-68.
It was another notch for Jones, who continued to move up in the school record books.
In a victory at Colorado in mid-November, Jones passed Reggie Bush, LenDale White and Mike Garrett to move into sixth place. He nearly passed Simpson in USC’s regular-season finale against UCLA, when he totaled 122 rushing yards.
“He has excellent speed, he has excellent size, and the beautiful thing about him is the more he gets to run, the better he’s going to get,” Garrett said in an interview last week. “And I really believe, if he gets more carries, he’s only going to get better and better.”
As the 10th-ranked Trojans held a 24-21 lead over 12th-ranked Stanford going into the fourth quarter, Jones had rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
FRIDAY NIGHT TRAVEL
Pac-12 teams went 0-3 this season in Friday road games after playing in a conference road game the previous Saturday.
The Trojans were among those teams to falter, suffering a 30-27 loss at Washington State on Sept. 29, six days after they traveled to face Cal in Berkeley.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a news conference before the conference title game that parameters had been added to prevent such situations in upcoming seasons.
Scott said it was given “a little consideration” following input from athletic directors.
The conference released its 2018 schedule last month. No teams were scheduled to play in Friday road games after a Saturday road game.
USC’s offensive line kept continuity for most of the second half of the regular season after several linemen were banged up in September, but the injury bug hit again.
Andrew Vorhees, a freshman right guard, left with a possible concussion in the first quarter. He was replaced by Jordan Austin.
Vorhees had started eight consecutive games after replacing senior Viane Talamaivao, who tore a pectoral muscle and underwent season-ending surgery.
The Trojans were idle last Saturday, while Stanford entered the conference title game on six days’ rest after a win over Notre Dame.
The setup occurred…