USC holds off Keeton and Utah State
USC 17, Utah State 14
With Utah State invading the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the rebuilt Southern California defense would receive its first test against the spread option. The athletic dual-threat Chuckie Keeton had already proven himself a quarterback difficult to defend, and his Aggies had tilted the scoreboard for 122 points in their last two outings. The fourth ranked Trojan defense more than accepted the most recent challenge, it would pass this test with flying colors.
USC held the explosive Aggies to 285 total yards, while limiting their star to just 179 passing yards on 39 attempts. Utah State amassed just 106 rushing yards in the game, with Keaton (-15) proving to be no threat to the Trojan front.
The Trojans again called on their defense to preserve a victory, which appears to be the theme of 2013. The offense continued its struggle on Saturday, managing just 17 points in the victory, and still content to run the ball with other options sustaining failure. Cody Kessler, who played his first full game at quarterback, finished 13-26, 164 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT. Although he took some deep shots against the Aggies, it wasn’t many, and not nearly enough to keep the visitors out of the box and away from Tre Madden.
Madden led all rushers, with 97 yards on 24 carries, but his streak of 100-yard rushing games would end at 3 . Marqise Lee finished with a game-high 6 receptions for 72 yards, but has still failed in the new offense to record double-digit receptions. Overall, USC receivers caught just 13 passes in four quarters of football, which exemplifies a unit struggling to get in gear.
USC held a 14-7 halftime lead, but was outscored 7-3 by Utah State in the second half. The Aggies had one last opportunity for a tying or go-ahead score, but the Trojan defense held, forcing a turnover on downs at the Utah State 41-yard line with 3:04 remaining.
Game Ball: Morgan Breslin, for 2 big sacks in the fourth quarter to stifle Utah State threats
Up Next: Arizona State