USC vs. BYU final score, recap: Trojans humbled in overtime

USC football is looking for more defensive linemen. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
USC football is looking for more defensive linemen. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Saturday afternoon’s USC vs. BYU final score wasn’t pretty for Clay Helton’s Trojans. They fell 30-27 in overtime.

The USC vs. BYU final score was a close one, with the Trojans embroiled in a strugglefest at LaVell Edwards Stadium that resulted in an overtime loss to the Cougars, 30-27.

Here’s what went down…

The lowdown: Kedon Slovis had quite the interesting start. He led the Trojans on a near-perfect opening drive for seven points, before a pair of interceptions gifted BYU with short fields. The Cougars, led by slippery quarterback Zach Wilson, scored 10 points off the turnovers to take a 10-3 lead and had mojo the rest of the way.

The second quarter saw USC tie the game at 17 points, after transitioning to a run-first offense with Markese Stepp (9 carries, 53 yards) and Vavae Malepeai (23 carries, 96 yards) leading the way, partially caused by BYU’s cloud coverage. But it wouldn’t always be so effective, with the offensive line unable to get push for consistent stretches.

BYU botched the only scoring opportunity in an uneventful third quarter with a bizarre fourth down sequence at the 11-yard line, but things started to look better for USC heading into the fourth quarter.

Slovis and Co. went back to the air to put together one of their best drives of the game to take the lead, 24-17. They went 13 plays for 92 yards, capped off with an unreal 30-yard touchdown pass from Slovis to Pittman, who was able to haul in a highlight-reel catch in the end zone despite being forced out of bounds and re-establishing his positioning in bounds.

BYU though? Not dead. The Zach Wilson show was still just beginning. The second coming of Vince Young in the eyes of the Trojans led the Cougars on back-to-back scoring drives to take the lead right back. The latter of which came stocked with several breakdowns in which the defense couldn’t wrangle in the quarterback.

If not for a 52-yard Chase McGrath field goal late, the Cougars would’ve won in regulation. But it counted and USC headed to overtime for a delayed death sentence.

The defense, for the first time all game, was picture perfect in overtime. They gave up just three yards on three plays to force a field goal for three points.

The offense didn’t help them out in the bottom of the inning. Slovis was picked off for the third time, giving USC their first loss in Week 3, by three points, 30-27.

The takeaway: All offseason, the trip to BYU looked concerning. Clay Helton sported a 12-14 record away from the Coliseum, and it was a trap game with Utah looming on a short week, against athletic gunslinger Zach Wilson. A potential traditional early season road loss for the Trojans, right?

Yes. Absolutely. We at Reign of Troy ranked the trip to Provo as the fourth-most threatening game of the season because of that. But then the season started, making those concerns much less worrisome.

BYU wasn’t impressive in a home loss to Utah, nor an overtime win over a bad Tennessee team. Meanwhile, USC obliterated Stanford with a 35 unanswered points as true freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis led the way in a high-powered Air Raid attack.

On paper, there wasn’t a football reason to pick the Cougars or their 128th-ranked rush defense. Only the peripheral fears over USC making the same mistakes and falling into the same trends of yesteryear.

Then Game day came. And following a cacophony of errors, it proved the initial skepticism right.

Not one thing was the blame. Rather, everything played a role. It was a freshman quarterback making freshman mistakes. It was an offensive line unable to get any sort of push in the run game, despite BYU playing back in coverage to take away the pass.

It was turnovers putting the defense in tough spots with short fields, followed by the defense still not being able to set an edge and yet again being unable to wrap up.

Any one of those errors could’ve been reasonably negated by the other side of the ball doing their job. But Saturday afternoon was a collective failure, with all three phases of the game not answering the bell when needed.

And so the might of Slovis’s three-touchdown performance against Stanford was wiped away with a three-interception performance and the season seems to suddenly be at a critical point, just days after expectations ramped back up.

Utah, Washington and Notre Dame are next on the docket. If USC bounces back, particularly on Friday night against Utah, the loss to BYU loses its sting. But if they don’t —as expected, given the performance Saturday afternoon— it’s beginning of the end, with the university beginning changes within the athletic department this week, highlighted by the nudged resignation of Lynn Swann.

Player of the game: USC wide receiver Michael Pittman loves to play in the state of Utah. The senior caught a career-high nine passes, while scoring twice.

Next on tap: The Trojans will resume conference play with a crucial battle with defending South champion Utah, Friday night at the Coliseum. The Utes are undefeated and will be looking to get their first victory over the Trojans at the Coliseum ever.