Cody Kessler threw for 243 yards and four touchdowns as USC jumped all over Fresno State to take a 35-6 halftime lead over the Bulldogs in the Las Vegas Bowl played on Saturday.
Wide receivers Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor caught two touchdowns each as Kessler hit on 14 of 18 passes. USC piled up 326 yards of total offense.
FSU quarterback Derek Carr, who entered the game as the nation’s leader in total offense, was just 17 of 32 for 125 yards and one touchdown. The Bulldogs ran the ball three times for 14 yards.
The turning point of the first half came with about nine minutes left in the second quarter with USC up 21-6. Fresno State attempted a fake punt on its own 30 yards line on fourth down and three. Backup quarterback Myles Carr’s pass fell incomplete and the Trojans took over in great field position.
Two plays later, Javorius Allen scored on a 24-yard touchdown run and the rout was on.
If USC holds on, the Trojans will finish 10-4 and notch wins from three different coaches on the year — former coach Lane Kiffin (who was fired in September), interim coach Ed Orgeron (who left the program after the hiring of Steve Sarkisian) and interim coach Clay Helton, who stepped in to coach the Vegas Bowl.
In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”
Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.
At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August. The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.
“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”
Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.
Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5. The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.
De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland. Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.
“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”
Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.
Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).
In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well. The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury