After four quarters of play, the Trojans finished strong to beat the Utah Utes 38-28 in front of the sold-out crowd in Rice-Eccles Stadium. They rebounded after stumbling in the first quarter, and regained a little bit of the respect they had lost after losing to Stanford and struggling against Cal.
Aside from the two opening fumbles that yielded Utah touchdowns, USC outscored the Utes 38-7 in an offensive performance from Barkley that we haven’t seen in a while. He finished the night with 23 completions of 30 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. Barkley now has 95 touchdowns on his career, just four off of Matt Leinart’s Pac-12 record of 99.
The play of the game–and the first nail in the coffin for Utah–was when Barkley heaved it down the field and connected with Marqise Lee for an incredible 83-yard touchdown pass, a career-long mark for both of them. Utah was deflated, but the exclamation point came when Morgan Breslin nearly sacked Utah QB John Hays on the following drive and forced him to throw a pick six right to USC CB Nickell Robey.
The upset that threatened so early in the game was now just a memory.
USC finished the day with 420 yards of total offense while surrendering 304 yards to the Utes. They gave up a shameful 100 yards in penalties alone, something they are going to seriously need to work on, as that sloppy play will not fly against better Pac-12 opponents. RB Silas Redd left the game near the end of the third quarter with 18 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown to his name, and RB D.J. Morgan had the game of his life, touching the ball nine times for 46 yards. He is slowly but surely proving himself a capable running back, something that Kiffin doubted after Morgan has had many ball control issues in his career.
WRs Marqise Lee and Robert Woods reminded us why they are the most dynamic tandem in the Pac-12, with 12 receptions for 192 yards and a touchdown, and six receptions for 69 yards and a TD, respectively.
Utah did tack on a final touchdown as the clock wound down in the 4th quarter and USC’s reserve defense got some play, but what should be remembered from this contest is how well USC’s veterans rose to the occasion and did not shy away from a struggle. C Khaled Holmes, who had a hand in USC two fumbles, played an incredible game and silenced Utah DT Star Lotulelei, preventing him from wreaking havoc for the Trojan offense.
The Trojans really needed this performance to put some wind back in their sails, and they showed that they can indeed recover from mistakes. USC will take the road win, and with it the confidence that if they play their game and aren’t afraid to open up the playbook, they will see much more success this season.