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USC upsets Stanford on late field goal

Stanford v USC Getty Images

Andre Heidari kicked a 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds left to lead USC to a 20-17 victory over No. 5 Stanford at the Coliseum on Saturday night.

With the win, the Trojans improved to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12. The Cardinal dropped to 8-2 and 6-2.

It was an emotional effort by USC, which snapped a four-game losing streak to Stanford while winning for the fifth time in six games under interim head coach Ed Orgeron.

Trojan quarterback Cody Kessler passed for 288 yards and a touchdown on 25 of 37 passing to pace a USC offense that made the plays that it had to make to win. Case in point, a 13-yard completion to Marqise Lee on fourth and two on USC’s last drive that gave the Trojans a first down at the Stanford 35-yard line. Six plays later, Heidari was the hero.

The key to the game was USC’s ability to score early. By doing so, Stanford was unable to grind out the clock with its run game (as it did against Oregon last week). As it was, running back Tyler Gaffney still gained 158 yards on 28 carries, with two scores, but quarterback Kevin Hogan struggled to hit targets down the field, completing just 14 of 25 passes for 127 yards while throwing two interceptions, including a back-breaker to safety Dion Bailey at the USC 10-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

There was no major breakdown by either defense. Stanford allowed 311 total yards, while USC gave up 387. The time of possession was about even and the Trojans gained just 23 net yards on the ground. But USC’s spirited effort on defense stymied the Cardinal, whose three turnovers might’ve been the difference.

The win by USC tonight could have some long-term ramifications in the Pac-12 and nationally. By beating Stanford, Oregon has now taken control of the race for the Pac-12 North. Stanford now has no place in the national title discussion, while the Ducks have an outside chance at sneaking back into it.

Meanwhile, the temptation might exist for USC athletic director Pat Haden to tab Orgeron as his permanent head coach. But USC has the potential to get an elite coach who has proven himself over the long term. Will Haden be far-sighted enough to think of that long term rather than take the easy, emotional route? His decision could ultimately decide the course of the conference for the next five years.

For now, though, USC can enjoy a great win over a top five team. It just goes to show that despite the scholarship restrictions, the Trojans can field a roster that can compete with any team in the country. Lane Kiffin obscured that fact for a while — now it’s self evident.

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21 Responses to “USC upsets Stanford on late field goal”
  1. gquesen says: Nov 17, 2013 12:41 AM

    As a duck fan, I sure love myself some USC tonight.

  2. gquesen says: Nov 17, 2013 12:45 AM

    *Love me

  3. halbert53 says: Nov 17, 2013 1:02 AM

    It is so refreshing to see a media person who knows more about who to hire as a HC than the AD, who was a Rhodes Scholar. Orgeron may or may not be the best solution for USC. But two things are very clear. The players are working their butts off for Orgeron. Secondly the way Orgeron has turned the program around means some school is going to offer him a HC job. More than likely USC has to make him HC or lose him.

  4. Anoesis says: Nov 17, 2013 1:04 AM

    Ed Orgeron has been a breath of fresh air since taking over. Whoever USC hires as a head coach after the season should only be offered the job contingent on keeping Orgeron on the staff. Maybe the new HC wants his own D-line coach, but Orgeron should be kept on board as the highest-paid head recruiter in college ball. DC Pendergast deserves to stay, too. The defense, except for the Debacle in the Desert, has been consistently good all year.

    Cody Kessler looked better than he has all season and Marqise Lee was truly a warrior coming back into the game injured to catch that critical 4th down pass.

    The run game was pretty good most of the year, so Stanford’s line defense must be stout. Heidari redeemed himself with that long field goal to win it. I have to admit I was ready for an overtime or two.

    Despite some questionable officiating (how is running into the punter not a penalty? How do you miss a USC defender shoving a receiver out of bounds and then throw a flag when he comes back in and tips a pass?) USC kept battling. Stanford couldn’t wear them down even with SC’s scholarship handicap.

    The only thing worse than blowing a couple of games SC should have won earlier in the year, thus making the PAC12 South title a possibility, is helping Oregon get into the title game. I’ll still take the upset. UCLA is next. Fight on!

  5. soundsofsuccess7 says: Nov 17, 2013 1:16 AM

    This whole Orgeron thing isn’t just players hyped up on emotion- USC was truly a team tonight that was on the same level as Stanford. The talent has been there- it looks like these coaches know what to do with it.

  6. jkaflagg says: Nov 17, 2013 1:26 AM

    Last comment is spot on…..USC still has plenty of 4 & 5 star athletes out there, and it’s rather amazing in retrospect that Kiffin found some way to muzzle it……whether the Trojans reward Coach O for orchestrating the turnaround or feel compelled to bring in a big name/big dollar coach will be fascinating….but for now, they should enjoy a well-deserved victory.

  7. Anoesis says: Nov 17, 2013 1:29 AM


    I agree. USC coming out of its funk is more about Kiffin being gone than anything else. Kessler’s playing much better and one has to wonder why Javorius “Buck” Allen didn’t get more work until after Kiffin was canned. Considering the reduced scholarships it is mind-boggling that he wasn’t using everyone he could.

    Although the position coaches and coordinators likely knew who should be on the field, Kiffin went his own way and it cost him his job. For whatever reason(s) the players stopped playing for him. That has obviously changed dramatically since the loss to Arizona State.

  8. duklover says: Nov 17, 2013 1:30 AM

    Thanks Trojans, whew, almost upchucked saying that. If you don’t give Orgeron the HC job your as stupid as some
    of your blogers on this site. Don’t worry about the money, Dr Dre has deep pockets.

  9. normtide says: Nov 17, 2013 1:43 AM

    Orgeron wasn’t a great Bosch at Ole Miss. He recruited great, but he was overwhelmed by the job. But I always say, coaches learn and evolve. Saban WA a different coach st MSU, Miles was a different at OSU, Carroll, Bellichek, and so many others. I’m not saying he would be great for USC, I’m just saying he wouldn’t be the same guy he was with the rebels. Talent is a coaches best friend as well, and USC has it.

    Scholarship reductions hurt bad, but lets be honest. I would rather have USC’s 65 guys then WSU’s 85. Coaching was clearly was the problem.

  10. normtide says: Nov 17, 2013 1:45 AM

    Coach, not Bosch. He didn’t make electrical components at Ole Miss.

  11. metalhead65 says: Nov 17, 2013 1:46 AM

    how is keeping a coach the players obviously respond to short sighted? clearly they have the talent and he is getting it out of them. what happens if they hire a big name and his program does not mesh with the talent they have now?

  12. halbert53 says: Nov 17, 2013 2:12 AM

    Ole Miss is a tough place to coach and they have a short leash. Forced out Tubberville and he did well at Auburn. Cutliffe doing well at Duke. Orgeron doing well at USC. There’s talent at USC but the team is playing with enthusiasm now. If they don’t hire Orgeron they will have big shoes to fill.

  13. jdillydawg says: Nov 17, 2013 4:23 AM

    I saw a piece on Bryce Petty today and learned that he had committed to Tennessee first. Then the coach was fired and Lane Kiffin took over. Kiffin never even bothered to call Petty.

    So he went to Baylor instead.

    Thanks Lane! And thanks USC for bumpin’ my Bears up one more spot in the BCS. This is rarified air up here…

  14. thekatman says: Nov 17, 2013 4:36 AM

    Pac-12 refs did what they could tomget Stanford the edge, but USC took the refs bumgling on calls out of the game. Case in point… Stanford was awarded a first down when the ball w clearly short 2 imches. Even kirk Herbstreet and Bret M noticed. We did so, as well, in the stands.

  15. chachooga says: Nov 17, 2013 8:17 AM

    Stanford has now lost to a 3 loss USC that was a circus show a month ago, and THEY LOST TO UTAH!!!!

    I do not understand why we are told week after week how good this team is?!?!?

    Oregon should not be ranked above Clemson, Missouri, or even Auburn…..they lost to Stanford, WHO LOST TO UTAH!!!!

  16. chachooga says: Nov 17, 2013 8:19 AM

    …..and wow does Orgeron show was a total waste of a hire Lane Kiffin is….ANYWHERE. Man.

    I am happy for Orgeron, former UM coach.

  17. irishdodger says: Nov 17, 2013 10:00 AM

    I, for one, hope SC hires Orgeron as their permanent HC. I doubt that will happen, but one can hope.

  18. thekatman says: Nov 17, 2013 12:09 PM

    This wasn’t about how good Stanford is, but about how good, USC Football 2.6 has become, under a revitalized coaching staff and team of guys playing as one. This is the team the sports press considereed a #1 team last year, but Kiffin hamstrrung the playbook and players. He did not utilize all of the resources available, considering the lost schollies and injuries.

    Other than the USC offensive struggles in the 2nd half, similar to what happened at the Notre adame game, this USC team and our stellar defense is a force to be rekoned with and not to be taken lightly.

    Everyon knew this game would be a battle in the trenches, influding the Vegas sports bet outlets, and who ever controlled the line of scrimmage had the upper edge.

    On to Colorado on Sat.
    Great weekend of college football, sports fans.
    Fight On.

  19. amosalanzostagg says: Nov 17, 2013 12:58 PM

    As a Bama fan, I’m very proud of USC.

    Watched the dvr this morning and Haden needs to forget $6 million and hire Orgeron. He has earned the trust of the kids and he has earned the fans. Be honest, did you really think USC would fight back the way they have after all the negative actions by Kiffin?

    This tells you two things,

    (1.) The kids on this team have grown up big time through all the adversity thrown their way and are playing for each other. 65 scholarship players? 65 warriors. Coaching change? They’re following the example of a man that trusts them and wants only the best for them. Coaches and Fans? Being rewarded for standing together when everyone was telling them they suck.

    (2.) Haden, eliminate any doubt, hire Orgeron and build momentum toward next season and beyond.

    Rivalry weekend between USC UCLA is going to a great addition to the Iron Bowl.


  20. scbaby2013 says: Nov 17, 2013 3:57 PM

    @duklover correction: USC doesn’t have deep pockets like Oregon, just ask Phil knight lol

  21. scbaby2013 says: Nov 17, 2013 3:58 PM

    That was an amazing game…you can’t sanction the end zone NCAA!!!

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