There was a time when a 17-14 win by USC over Utah State would’ve been greeted with cries of panic by those who follow Trojan football.
But expectations have fallen so much at USC, any win these days over any level of opponent is seen as something to be taken without reservation.
And so, Lane Kiffin survived another week — barely — as his Trojans squeaked out a 3-point win over out-manned Utah State in the Coliseum.
If not for the resiliency of the USC defense, Kiffin might already be on the outskirts of town, run out ignominiously on a rail. The new 5-2 scheme under defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast suffocated Utah State’s brilliant quarterback, Chuckie Keeton, holding him to just 179 yards passing and negative 15 yards rushing. Meanwhile, the USC offense continued to look like something out of the stone age.
The Trojans put up 282 yards of offense, went 3 of 13 on third down conversions and were held to just 3 yards per carry. USC managed just 17 total points despite spending most of the game inside Utah State territory. But mistakes, dropped balls, penalties, poor play calling and a scrappy Aggies defense handicapped the Trojan attack all day.
Utah State had a chance to win this one. Beating the Trojans would’ve been a landmark win for the program, but Keeton couldn’t get it done and the usually-slippery quarterback seemed out of sorts most of the day. The Aggies now stand at 2-2 after dropping its second close game to a Pac-12 opponent.
For USC, things do not get any easier. The Trojans travel to Arizona State next week and, based on how they’ve looked in the first four games, things could get ugly in the desert.
But USC is not Florida. Despite this narrow win, it’s still a novice at winning ugly. Unless the Trojans get better quick, playing ugly will just mean losing ugly.
With the start of summer camp just up the block and around the corner, Colorado State has seen its secondary take a rather significant hit.
A CSU official has confirmed to the Loveland Reporter Herald that Preston Hodges has been dismissed from Mike Bobo‘s football program. The Reporter Herald writes that Hodges “had become academically ineligible and was dismissed from the team.”
The past three seasons, Hodges had started 28 games in the Rams’ secondary. Eight of those starts came at cornerback last season.
Exiting the spring, the senior Hodges was listed No. 2 on the depth chart at one of the safety spots.
In addition to Hodges, offensive lineman Blake Nowland is no longer on the team’s roster. There was no reason given for his departure.
After playing in three games as a redshirt freshman in 2014, Nowland missed the entire 2015 season because of a broken leg.
There is a new preseason favorite for the 2016 Heisman Trophy, at least as far as Bovada is concerned.
The betting service Tuesday listed LSU running back Leonard Fournette checks in with the best odds at 9/2. He moved ahead of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, whose odds went from 9/2 in January to 5/1 now.
Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey’s odds moved to 11/2 while Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield are all at 12/1.
Several players were added to the board since January, including UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen (16/1), Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough (20/1) and Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham (28/1).
The group of newcomers also includes both of the competitors to be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire are both set at 28/1.
Oklahoma defensive back Jordan Thomas was arrested early Thursday morning and stands accused of three offenses.
Cleveland (Oklahoma) County sheriff arrest records show the 20-year-old Thomas was booked at 2:45 a.m. on charges of assault and battery, public intoxication and interference.
A school spokesperson told The Tulsa World the department is aware of and monitoring the situation.
Thomas, who reportedly has been released on bond, was second on the Sooners with nine pass defended last season and was credited with 46 tackles. He had five interceptions.
The World notes Thomas has been in trouble both with the law and the team previously.
Thomas was jailed in Grady County before last year’s Orange Bowl after failing to appear in court following a traffic citation.
The junior also has faced issues on the team. He missed the first quarter of the 2015 opener against Akron and the entire Tulsa game for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
The Sooners won the Big 12 last season and made the College Football Playoff.
They are expected to be contenders again this season and have a showdown with Ohio State looming in Norman on Sept. 17.
Ohio State has quietly added Joker Phillips and Brian Knorr — two experienced college coaches — to Urban Meyer’s staff.
Although the athletics department has not made an announcement yet, Phillips is listed in Ohio State’s employee directory as a sports program associate with the working title of “Football QC – kicking,” which presumably means he is a quality control assistant for the Ohio State kicking game.
Knorr is listed simply as an athletics intern.
Of the two, Phillips is the more experienced. Now 53, he began his coaching career as a G.A. at Kentucky, his alma mater, and eventually spent six seasons as a full-time receivers coach for the Wildcats in the early 1990s.
He also coached at Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina before returning to Lexington as an assistant and eventually rising to head coach in 2010.
The Wildcats went just 13-24 in his three seasons, and he spent last year as wide receivers coach of the Cleveland Browns. He also spent a season coaching receivers at Florida, where he was found guilty of a level two recruiting violation.
Knorr was most recently the defensive coordinator at Indiana. He spent two seasons in Bloomington after six at Wake Forest.
A Kansas native, he played quarterback at Air Force and previously worked in the Buckeye State as an assistant to Jim Grobe and then Frank Solich at Ohio University from 1995-2004.
The Hoosiers ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring defense and total defense last season, and he was replaced by Tom Allen in January.