In a performance that is cringe-worthy for so many reasons, USC and Washington State are tied 7-7 going into the half.
The defense came alive for USC once again to open the second half, with back-to-back huge plays. First, defensive end Morgan Breslin–who is playing in his first game for USC this season after nursing a high ankle sprain–sacked Washington State QB Connor Halliday and on the next play, defensive tackle George Uko brought Halliday to the grounf and forced a fumble, with outside linebacker Devon Kennard scooping it up and running it back to the 22-yard line.
USC’s offense took the field again and looked to be stalling, but then Cody Kessler hit Tre Madden in the flat for an eight-yard gain on third down. From the Wildcat formation, Madden took it himself and picked up the first down and then some for USC, inching the Trojans’s closer to the Wazzu endzone.
The Trojans finally got on the board when Kessler on a QB keep ran it in for a four-yard touchdown score–and with the subsequent extra point–that gave USC a 7-0 lead.
Halliday and the Cougar offense came back onto the field and though Halliday found himself constantly under immense pressure, his team showed to be much more adept at converting on third downs than the Trojans. That said, on a crucial third down, USC cornerback Kevon Seymour jumped the route and almost had a pick-six for the Trojans. Forced to punt, the Cougar offense once more got hustled off the field to make way for USC.
Tre Madden showed some toughness for USC on their next drive, picking up six and then ten yards on back to back carries. But as the Trojans continue to settle in under Kessler, conservative play-calling and a painfully stagnant offense prevent USC from adding any more points to the board.
Safety Dion Bailey grabbed his first interception of the night and second of the year when he picked off Halliday on third down. The USC defense continued to put on a tremendous effort, forcing two INTs from Halliday, sacking him twice and forcing one fumble.
To their credit, the Washington State secondary has done a brilliant job of shutting down Marqise Lee, something that is to be expected from all of USC’s opponents this season after the way he shredded defenses in 2012.
In the final minutes of the half, Kessler threw a pick six, and the Cougars tied it up with USC at 7.
At the half, Cody Kessler is 8-of-13 for 41 yards, one rush for four yards and a touchdown, and one interception, while Tre Madden is leading the hesitant offensive effort with 10 carries for 41 yards. For Washington State, Connor Halliday is 14-of-23 for 121 yards, with two picks and a fumble. Wazzu has converted four of nine third down attempts, while the Trojans have failed to convert any of their six attempts.