Unlike last week against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the USC Trojans capitalized on Utah mistakes and beat the Utes 19-3 at the Coliseum on Saturday. With the win, they advance to 5-3 on the season. Having only 45 eligible players this week, the fact the the Trojans could compete is pretty remarkable.
In their most promising drive of the day, the Utah Utes, led by Adam Schulz in place of Travis Wilson, stood at first and goal against the USC Trojans to open the fourth quarter. The Trojan defensive line–2nd in the Pac-12 in sacks–got another one on 3rd and goal when its members gang tackled Schulz for a loss of yards.
The Utes opted to kick a field goal, but it sailed wide, holding USC’s lead at 19-3.
With another stop in the redzone, USC’s defense has yet to give up a rushing touchdown in October.
USC couldn’t do anything with its next set of downs, going three-and-out once again and being forced to punt. Kessler got sacked again as the offensive line continues to get beat late in the game.
The Trojans and Utes went tit-for-tat for a few drives, neither really mounting much of an offensive threat.
Later, USC kept a drive alive when Kessler found Darreus Rogers on a slant for the first down and then some. On the next play however, Aundrey Walker got flagged for a false start, and center Marcus Martin was visibly irate with his teammate for the infraction.
Kessler again found Rogers on a slant route for another Trojan first down, and USC crept slowly into Utah territory. Tre Madden bowled through the Utes defense line and after getting stalled, burst through the second line for the first down.
Madden almost got tackled behind the line of scrimmage, but he skillfully eluded the tackle and even earned a couple of yards on the rush. On 3rd and 8, Buck Allen caught a pass for a short gain, but it was not enough for the first down. With it, the Trojans were forced to punt once again.
Utah would get the ball back at their own 20-yard line, with four and a half minutes to play.
Adam Schulz got tackled for a loss of 15 yards on the opening play of the drive, and his next pass attempt sailed incomplete on second down. The Utes picked up a few yards on third down, but not enough to keep their drive going.
USC got the ball back with three minutes to play, and their win looked all but certain as the clock continued to run out.
Utah threatened to score late in the game, thought it would not have been enough to turn things in their favor. They got within the Trojan 20-yard line with 30 seconds left in the game, but they ultimately did not score.
Cody Kessler finished the day 21-of-31 for 230 yards and one touchdown. Tre Madden led the ground game with 12 carries for 60 yards, but thanks to a few sacks on Kessler, the Trojans only netted 32 rushing yards in this competition. Nelson Agholor had a heck of a game, snagging six receptions for 97 yards and one score. Darreus Rogers and De’Von Flournoy also played a very good game, having 62 and 45 yards, respectively.
As a team, USC only converted three of 15 3rd-down attempts. The defense held Utah to just 201 total yards, forced four turnovers and did not give up any touchdowns.