For the second straight week, the USC Trojans escaped with a close win, this time a 17-14 win over the Utah Utes Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, in the first ever college football game in the Pac-12 conference. The Utes lined up for what would have been a game-tying field goal with 11 second left, but it was blocked.
Torin Harris returned the block for a touchdown, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the USC sideline for running onto the field nullified the final touchdown, which would have allowed the Trojans to cover the nine-point spread.
Running back Marc Tyler, who was reinstated from suspension this week, ran for 113 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown for the Trojans, who improved to 2-0 on the season, and now 1-0 in the Pac-12.
Utah got the ball with 1:01 remaining in the game with no timeouts, down three points. The Utes advanced the ball to the 39-yard line with 20 seconds remaining, but a poor spot after a fourth down pass reception left Utah just short of a first down. The play was reviewed and the ensuing spot resulted in a first down.
The Trojans had three turnovers in the game, including two inside the red zone in the second quarter alone as USC was trying to build on their 10-0 lead. The Utes scored their 14 points off two of those turnovers.
The USC defense gave up one big run, a 51-yard run on a reverse by Reggie Dunn which led to the Utes' only second-half touchdown. But other than that, the Trojans' defense made life hell on Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn in the second half. They sacked Wynn twice for a total of 28 yards lost, and held him to just 9-for-23 passing in the second half.
Penalties also hurt the Trojans, including three times in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Matt Barkley passed to freshman wide receiver Marqise Lee for a 32-yard gain on third down with 11:21 remaining, but it was wiped out by a penalty for an ineligible man down field. Then, with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter, wide receiver Brandon Carswell was called for a block below the knees on a quarterback sneak attempt. What would have been fourth and inches from the Utah 27-yard line became third and 15 from the 42-yard line, and an incomplete pass by Barkley forced USC to punt.
Barkley completed 20 of 32 passes for 263 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Robert Woods, who caught a school-record 17 passes last week, was double covered by Utah for most of the game but still ended with eight grabs for 102 yards.
Freshman offensive lineman Aundrey Walker played on the field goal team for the Trojans on Saturday, his first action of the season. That means Walker can't redshirt this season unless he gets injured. USC hosts the Syracuse Orange next Saturday in Los Angeles.
For more news on USC football and tonight's game, check in with the group at Conquest Chronicles.