USC opened the fourth quarter by running a redirection play from RB Silad Redd to WR Marqise Lee on 4th and 2, and Arizona’s defense came up with a huge stop.
On 3rd and 22 of their following drive, the Wildcats looked to be on the verge of coming off the field but Matt Scott found Austin Hill over the middle for a 60-yard reception. Their drive was still alive and the Trojan defense scrambling to keep the lead in USC’s hands. Arizona struck again courtesy of a Dan Buckner nine-yard touchdown. Taking the lead for the first time since the beginning of the game, the Wildcats sat on top 32-28. They went for the two-point conversion again, and again were unsuccessful.
Arizona followed up that drive with another score, putting themselves up 11 over USC, 39-28.
Arizona scored 26 unanswered points on the Trojans, who looked like they had no intention of answering at all.
The Trojans’ demise came in the third quarter, when Coach Lane Kiffin decided to take his foot off the break and run the ball as opposed to continuing to target Lee, who was white hot all day. That decision proved to be costly, leaving the door open for the Wildcats to climb back in it. USC has routinely done this all season, and this was not the game for them to do it again.
WR Marqise Lee again made an effort to save the day, returning the ball to Arizona’s 27-yard line on the kick return. Barkley hit him again and he scrambled to the ten-yard line, which set USC up to score by way of Silas Redd darting ten yards into the endzone. The Trojans followed that up with a successful two-pointer to bring the score 39-26 in favore of Arizona.
Down only a field goal with some time on the clock, USC still had a shot to pull this one out.
The Trojans forced the Wildcats off the field with under a minute left and took over on downs.
It would not be enough though. The Trojans would move the ball past midfield but would come up short on the final play of the game. Barkley bombed it into the endzone but it fell incomplete.
The Trojans will surely tumble from the rankings after a game marred by errors, bad coaching, bad decisions and bad football.
Lost in it will be Marqise Lee’s incredible game of 357 yards and two touchdowns. What will be remembered is that again, with the game coming down to the wire after a big first half, the Trojans’ heart of a champion ceased to beat.
Barkley finished the day 31 of 49 for 493 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn’t terrible but it was not nearly enough. The Trojan defense, after starting strong, tired out and ultimately surrendered 369 yards of their own. And the penalties that rained down yet again all prevented USC from getting the job done.
Credit goes to Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez and his team, who refused to accept defeat and came back to take it all. Not only did they take the win, but they likely stole the last bit of hope USC had of making a worthy post-season run.
This was the season where the Trojans were supposed to take care of “Unfinished Business”. It looks like that business is going to remain unfinished for a long, long time.