Cody Kessler threw for a career-high 344 yards and four touchdowns as No. 25 USC (10-4) defeated No. 20 Fresno State (11-2), 45-20, in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday.
It was USC’s first bowl win since 2009. The Trojans also grabbed their first 10-win season since 2011.
All of Kessler’s touchdowns came in the first half as the Trojans jumped out to a 35-6 lead. Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee each scored twice, with Lee notching a season-high 118 receiving yards on seven catches.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr came into the game leading the nation in total offense at 415 yards per game, but USC held him to just 217 passing yards on 29 of 54 passing. Carr did throw two touchdown passes to become the fourth player in NCAA history to top 5,000 yards and 50 touchdown passes in a season.
The Trojans dominated the stat sheet, holding the ball for over 41 minutes and piling up 499 yards to FSU’s 254.
It was a disappointing ending to a once-promising season for the Bulldogs. After starting out 10-0 to move into contention for a BCS bowl bid, FSU dropped two of its last three. Still, the 11-2 record was the best season by the Bulldogs since 1989.
As for USC, it was a fine ending to a tumultuous season. Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and Clay Helton all coached the Trojans to wins and now Steve Sarkisian takes over as the new head man.
If Sarkisian is going to last longer than Kiffin, he better hope he’s not back in the Vegas bowl any time soon.
Maybe it’s nothing, maybe it’s something. Regardless, it’s something that bears watching.
Losers of two in a row and off to a 3-3 start to the season, Florida has underperformed and underwhelmed to say the least. So much so, in fact, that head coach Jim McElwain indicated Monday that he, his family, his coaching staff and players have been subjected to death threats by unknown individuals.
The head coach went into no detail publicly regarding the nature of the threats. Apparently, it was the same privately when discussing the situation with his employer.
Again, it could be in the same neighborhood as naked shark humping — nothing. Bears watching, though, as one very outspoken member of the Florida media is very much already doing publicly about a situation that was apparently reported to the media before it was reported to the police or even the university.
Pat Tillman is essentially the Knute Rockne of Arizona State football, the central figure that will be as important to the program 100 years from now as he is today. And while Notre Dame will wear Rockne-themed uniforms later this season, so, too, will Arizona State.
The program revealed Tillman-centric uniforms on Monday for their Nov. 4 game with Colorado, based on the uniform Tillman wore as a member of the U.S. Army while fighting in Afghanistan.
Tillman played linebacker at Arizona State from 1994-97 (he was named the Pac-10’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior) and then spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before the events of 9/11 inspired him to join the U.S. Army. He was a member of the Army Rangers before he was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, at age 27.
Arizona State unveiled a Tillman statue at Sun Devil Stadium at its season-opening win over New Mexico State.
“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, said at the unveiling. “He didn’t focus on money, he didn’t focus on fame, he didn’t focus on a pretty statue. It was, ‘How can I make myself a better person in all these different facets of my life?’ And ASU gave him an opportunity to do that.”
Florida has lost two in a row and is off to a 3-3 start, and that streak will probably reach three on Saturday after the Gators meet No. 3 Georgia. While everyone knows SEC fans are passionate about their football, some have taken Florida’s struggles too far.
How far? By threatening to kill the players and coaches.
“I think it’s a pretty good lesson for the way things are,” head coach Jim McElwain said, via Only Gators. “There’s a lot of hate in this world and a lot of anger. And yet, it’s freedom to show it. The hard part is, obviously, when it’s threats against your own players, death threats to your families, the ill will that’s brought upon out there. And yet, I think it’s really one of those deals that really is a pretty good testament to what’s going on out there nationally. There’s a lot of angry people, and in this business, we’re the ones you take the shots at. And that’s the way it is.”
In my experience, it seems people lodging death threats are far more serious about the threat part than the, uh, other. But that’s easy for me to say, I’ve never received one.
Sam Darnold was appointed the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on the second day of 2017. As a redshirt freshman, Darnold torched Penn State to the tune of 33-of-53 passing for 453 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in a 52-49 Rose Bowl win.
One problem, though. Darnold hasn’t played like a No. 1 pick this season.
While he hasn’t been the most disappointing player on what’s turning out to be a disappointing USC team, Darnold has posted pedestrian numbers (for him): hitting 63.5 percent of his passes for an even eight yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He ranks 38th nationally in passing efficiency. This puts him, coincidentally, one spot ahead of former USC quarterback Max Browne.
On Monday, NFL Draft analyst Benjamin Allbright shared a report that Darnold is expected to return to USC next season.
Considering Ronald Jones could return next season and that Stephen Carr is just a freshman, the prospect of Darnold returning in 2018 has to take the sting out of a lost 2017 for Trojans fans.