USC survives turnovers to top Utah in first Pac 12 game
Remember the schools and end result, because it is the answer to trivia questions in years to come. On September 10, 2011, USC hosted Utah in the first ever Pac 12 game. By a score of 23-14, The Trojans recorded the first conference victory, with the Utes absorbing the first loss. And if there wasn’t enough excitement over ushering in the newly expanded league, the teams satisfied all guests attending the christening with a thriller that came down to the final play.
Turnovers were the theme for week two, with the Trojans committing three, including two crucial mishaps in the red zone. Lack of ball security quickly became the difference between the host comfortably notching its second victory and nervously gripping its seat as the visitors exhaled new life. The Utes capitalized twice, turning USC errors into 14 points of its own.
It’s Lane Kiffin’s offense that generates the majority of press clippings. But for the second consecutive week, it’s a Trojan defense that has bailed out offensive inefficiency to keep the record unblemished. The unit held the Utes to a total of 81 rushing yards, with 51 of those coming on a single end around by Reggie Dunn. It also raised its season sack total to six, adding two more on Saturday. But most important, it held its ground in the fourth quarter, refusing to break and setting up special teams heroics to seal a second win.
With the stage set at 17-14, Utah opted for a game-tying field goal attempt with only 11 ticks remaining and no timeouts. It was blocked at the line of scrimmage by Matt Kalil, then scooped by Torin Harris and returned for a score that was originally nullified, but later adjusted.
The original call on the field negated the scored, due to an unsportsmanlike penalty issued to the USC sideline for entering the field of play in celebration before the ball carrier crossed the plane. The call was reviewed, interpreted, and overruled two hours later by the Pac 12, stating that in accordance to the amended rule, the score is counted, since it is the sideline penalized for excessive celebration (dead ball foul) and not any of the 11 participating players on the field.
Marc Tyler returned to the backfield to lead the Trojans with 113 yards rushing on 24 carries and a touchdown. Matt Barkley went 20 of 32 for 264 yards, with just a single touchdown pass, which was caught by tight end Xavier Grimble in the second half. Robert Woods finished with 8 catches for 102 yards, but was held out of the end zone.