LOS ANGELES – The Trojans returned to the Coliseum on Saturday to as they look to get revenge on the Utes. USC coming off a 48-20 blowout loss in South Bend, Caleb williams had his first bad college game with three interceptions in the first half and he never looked the same.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Both teams had an identical first half.
Last week, Williams had three interceptions in the first half and was only able to put up 20 points on the board. However, this week was different. In the first half, USC was able to score 14 points with Williams completing 14 out of 20 passes and throwing for 139 yards. The two touchdowns scored were the result of a rushing play by MarShawn Lloyd, who had a 45-yard run, and another by Zachariah Branch. It was an amazing play call by Lincoln Riley that allowed Branch to score. Tahj Washington also contributed in the first half with a terrific 51 yard catch.
The Utah Utes started the game with an impressive 53-yard throw from junior Bryson Barnes to Sione Vaki, giving them an early lead over the Trojans. Throughout the first half, Barnes continued to push the ball down the field against Grinch’s defense, while Utah RB Ja’Quinden Jackson rushed for a total of 69 yards. Jackson had an explosive rush for 19 yards, which helped the Utes gain good field position. Additionally, the junior from San Diego, Devaughn Vele, got involved with 3 catches for 31 yards in the first half.
Utah Utes were victorious in their recent game against Cal with a score of 34-14. They have turned things around after their defeat against Oregon State two weeks ago. During the first half, both teams had 10 first downs and three punts each. Although USC had the opportunity, they could not take advantage of the situation and failed to capitalize on five penalty calls made by Utah.
The USC offense seems to be out of rhythm
The Trojans began the season with a strong performance, scoring an average of 51.8 points per game in the first six games. However, in the previous week, Notre Dame managed to limit them to just 20 points. Caleb Williams was held responsible for his team’s poor performance, which was one of his worst showings in college. Despite scoring 14 points in the first quarter, the Trojans failed to score again until the end of the third quarter, when Dennis Lynch kicked a 44-yard field goal.
Utah scored 14 more points in the third quarter, with Barnes making some impressive plays down the field. They started the fourth quarter with a lead of 28-17. Tahj Washington’s long catches were crucial for the offense as they helped them avoid any trouble. The recent performance of Williams and the offense over the last two games has been disappointing.
In the last two games, Williams has not been able to protect the ball as well as he usually does. This has put his team in a difficult position and they were unable to win both of these games. Williams has missed several throws to his receivers, which can also be attributed to the poor performance of his offensive line. In the game against South Bend, he was sacked six times, while the Utes defense was able to sack him four times.
The defining moment for Williams came late when he scored a crucial 11-yard rushing touchdown to take the lead. However, in the next 90 seconds, the USC defense allowed the Utah to make 11 plays for 54 yards, resulting in a 38-yard game-winning field goal.
Lincoln Riley shares his thoughts and concerns about his team
In the fourth quarter, Williams scored a touchdown that put his team in the lead with a score of 32-31 and only 1 minute and 46 seconds remaining in the game. However, USC was unable to convert the two-point conversion after passing to Michael Jackson III. If they had succeeded, their lead would have been 34-31, which would have given them a better chance of winning if Utah managed to score a field goal.
Effective time management was crucial after Branch’s 61-yard punt return. Although a significant amount of time was left on the clock, Bryson Barnes managed to make the most of it. He completed 14 out of 23 passes for 235 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception. Unfortunately, the Trojans’ record against Utah under Riley’s leadership is 0-3. Despite their best efforts, they have been unable to secure a victory over there last two games. Riley discussed the team’s performance during the postgame press conference.
“Two tough losses in a row and obviously not how any of us scripted this, but you can’t script it. It’s college football,” Riley said. “It comes down to little things here and there, and we haven’t quite played clean enough here in the last couple of weeks to take advantage of it.”
USC struggled with some familiar issues despite making changes to their offensive line. They made some adjustments to their offense during practice this week, which included shifting Mason Murphy to right guard and Jarett Kingston to right tackle. While there was some improvement in the team’s performance, the offense still lacked rhythm. It’s very similar to their game against Notre Dame, where they allowed six sacks. Perhaps with some adjustments, the team can work towards a more cohesive and effective offense.
Lincoln Riley said after the game during his media availability that USC doesn’t “come in every week talking about winning a national championship, I don’t know where that narrative starts.”
No player was available to speak with the media after the loss, marking the first time in over 20 years.
The Utah team, which ranked last in the Pac-12 for yards, managed to gain 483 yards of offense against the Trojans. Although the defense made some mistakes, they looked significantly improved and only gave up 31 points prior to the game-winning field goal. USC was unable to score from six minutes remaining in the first quarter until the very end of the third quarter.
It is important to note that no team with two losses has ever qualified for the College Football Playoffs. As of now, there are nine undefeated teams still in contention. Although Coach Riley has stated that the season isn’t over yet, he believes there is still hope to turn things around with four games left to play.