Kedon Slovis

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USC takes charge in Pac-12 South after upset of No. 10 Utah

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Late Friday night saw the first upset of the weekend in college football. No. 10 Utah (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) was upset on the road by USC (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12), 30-23, despite the Trojans playing with a third-string quarterback and the Pac-12 officials throwing enough flags to fill five loads of laundry. The win by USC moves the Trojans into a comfortable spot in the Pac-12 South before even getting to October.

USC lost starting quarterback Kedon Slovis on the second play of the game. After Slovis left to be evaluated for a possible head injury, third-string quarterback Matt Fink stepped in to lead the offense. All Fink did was lead USC to touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game and then make some big passes in the second half to keep the Trojans in front of Utah. Fink ended his night off the bench with 351 passing yards and three touchdowns. Michael Pittman Jr. was on the receiving end of 10 of those receptions for a massive 232 receiving yards. The highlight of the night was a 77-yard touchdown pass that saw Pittman come down with a jump ball and then push aside a would-be tackler on his way to the endzone.

A win is a win, fo course, and USC will take them any way they can. On Friday night in the Coliseum, they had to overcome an onslaught of bad penalties. USC was flagged 11 times for 117 yards. Utah had their share of laundry too with 16 penalties called for 120 yards. Both teams were guilty of personal foul penalties as the game was certainly chippy at times. But some of the penalties were questionable at best. Neither coach will walk away from this game feeling great about the discipline or the officiating, as there was plenty of blame to go around in this one.

Utah had their chances to come away with the win, but an inability to defend deep jump ball passes by Fink killed them too often. The Utes ran for 247 yards as a team but managed just one touchdown on the ground. Quarterback Tyler Huntley put his team on the back for much of the night with 210 passing yards and 60 rushing yards, but it was not enough as defenders were able to get to him and bring him under pressure.

In the end, it was just USC’s night, and it was one Clay Helton really needed. For now, USC can live in the moment and not have to worry about distractions about the future of Helton. USC is already 2-0 in conference play with wins against Stanford and Utah. The road is not going to get any easier, with a road game at Washington coming up next week, followed by a trip to South Bend, Indiana to play Notre Dame. But USC ha splayed themselves into a favorable spot in the Pac-12 by being 2-0 and owning a head-to-head tiebreaker with Utah. That gives USC a margin for error in conference play, and they look to be the best team within the Pac-12 South the rest of the season.

While we should be wise not to pencil USC into the Pac-12 championship game just yet (remember, third-string QB and they still have Washington and Oregon to play in a difficult crossover division rotation), but there have been some true signs of promise for the Trojans early on this season. And bouncing back from a hard-fought loss at BYU last week to knock off No. 10 Utah is quite a turnaround for USC.

As USC hits the road to challenge Washington next week, Utah will look to rebound at home in Salt Lake City against Washington State. As of the conclusion of the USC-Utah game, the Washington State Cougars were one of three undefeated teams in the Pac-12 left standing (Cal, Arizona State).

Matt Fink delivers early spark for USC off bench, Trojans leading No. 10 Utah at half

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Playing with a third-strong quarterback, USC is looking to make a statement at home against No. 10 Utah. The Pac-12 contest has been heated from the start with some chippiness and personal foul penalties, and a couple of notable injuries. At the halftime break in the Los Angeles Coliseum, USC leads Utah 14-10.

Utah blew a chance to trim the lead a little bit more or take the lead just before halftime, but a botched handoff by Tyler Huntley led to a fumble recovery by USC in the final 20 seconds of the half from inside the USC five-yard line.

On the second play of the game, USC quarterback Kedon Slovis was removed from the game and examined for a possible head injury. Matt Fink entered the game and led USC to two touchdown drives in the first quarter. Already with over 200 passing yards, Fink and the USC offense ran into a bit of a wall for the rest of the half. USC went three-and-out on their first possession after taking a 14-7 lead. A fumble by Stephen Carr after a 16-yard gain gave Utah possession at their 20-yard line. USC then went three-and-out on their next possession, after the Utes chipped away at the deficit with a field goal.

Later in the half, Utah wide receiver Zack Moss left the game and was being checked for a possible shoulder injury.

Penalties also became a major factor in the second quarter with a handful of questionable roughing the passer and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Utah has already committed nine penalties for 75 yards, while USC has done their part to have laundry thrown on the field with six penalties for 70 yards. The officials have certainly earned their paycheck tonight so far.

USC QB Kedon Slovis injured on second play of game vs. Utah

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USC quarterback Kedon Slovis started Friday night’s game against Utah, but he may have been knocked out of the game after just two plays. Matt Fink has replaced Slovis, at least for now, after Slovis headed to the USC locker room early in the first quarter. According to a sideline report on the telecast, Slovis was being treated for a possible head injury.

Utah defensive tackle Leki Fatu came charging at Slovis on a 2nd-and-1 play on the second snap of the game. After Fink got the ball away, Fatu finished off a clean play in the college game (FS1 analyst Brock Huard correctly noted the follow-through to take the quarterback to the ground would be flagged in the NFL). Slovis struggled to get back on his feet as he attempted to get off the ground.

Fink, USC’s third-string quarterback behind Slovis and J.T. Daniels (who was injured and out for the year after the season opener), got right to work to finish off the opening drive. Fink missed on his first throw but then connected on his next three attempts, including a 29-yard pass to Tyler Vaughns for the early lead. Utah cruised down the field on the ensuing possession to tie it up.

This post will be updated with more information on Slovis once it becomes available.

BYU upsets No. 24 USC with game-winning interception in overtime

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BYU scored their second straight win against a team from a power conference, and this time they did it on their home field. BYU (2-1) needed overtime to score their first victory against No. 21 USC (2-1) in program history. It came in dramatic fashion with Dayan Ghanwoloku picking off a pass by Kedon Slovis in overtime to seal a 30-27 win. An official video replay review had to confirm the call on the field after fans had already started to strom the field.

 

USC took a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter thanks in part to bad personnel management by BYU’s special teams. On 4th and 1 form the BYU 32-yard line, the Trojans appeared set to attempt a 50-yard field goal, but BYU head coach Kalani Sitake was forced to burn BYU’s second timeout of the half because they had 12 players on the field. After getting some extra time to think things over, USC head coach Clay Helton opted to let his offense go back on the field and Markese Stepp rewarded him for that decision with a two-yard gain to move the chains. Then, on the very next play, Kedon Slovis took to the air to find Michael Pittman Jr. for a 30-yard touchdown. The ruling of a touchdown was discussed by officials to determine if Pittman should have been flagged for illegally touching the football after stepping out of bounds, and a review upheld the decision on the field.

After cutting the lead to four with a field goal, the BYU defense come up with a controversial stop on 3rd & 8 (officials ruled Pittman had caught a pass out of bounds, although video review showed there was a chance he may have had a foot inbounds), BYU took over around midfield. A big 35-yard pass from Zach Wilson to Gunner Romney picked up 35 yards right away, and two plays later Wilson took the ball himself straight up the middle of the Trojans defense.

But USC responded with a 52-yard field goal off the leg of Chase McGrath, a career-best, to tie the game at 27-27 on the ensuing possession.

USC is now 2-1 all-time against BYU. The two teams played in 2003 and 2004, with the Trojans winning by scores of 35-18 and 42-10, respectively.

USC will jump back into Pac-12 play next week with BYU’s rival, and preseason Pac-12 media favorite, Utah. The Trojans will get the Utes at home in an early pivotal matchup in the Pac-12 with the winner taking the early lead in the Pac-12 South Division standings. Utah was getting a final tuneup at home against Idaho State in Week 3. Utah also opened the season with a victory against BYU.

BYU will welcome another Pac-12 contender to Provo next week when the Washington huskies make the trip to LaVell Edwards Stadium. Washington head coach Chris Petersen is 2-1 all-time against the Cougars, including a 1-1- mark at Boise State.

BYU and No. 24 USC tied at halftime in Provo

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One half is in the books in LaVell Edwards Stadium with BYU looking for a second straight victory against a power conference opponent. The Cougars are engaged in a 17-17 tie with No. 24 USC at halftime and look to continue bringing pressure on USC’s freshman quarterback to create an advantage.

A week after getting his first career start for USC and leading the Trojans to a victory over Stanford, Kedon Slovis made sure USC got off on the right foot in Provo. Slovis opened the game with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Michael Pittman Jr. to cap the game’s opening possession and give visiting USC a quick lead. The two players hooked up for a nine-yard gain on the first play of the game as well. The USC defense forced a punt on their first trip to the field, but Slovis was picked off by BYU’s Payton Wilgar on the third play of the series, and the Cougars were in business with terrific field position. They capitalized with a Dayan Ghanwoloku touchdown run on the goal line shortly after a big run by Ty’Son Williams got the quick drive started.

Slovis was intercepted again on the ensuing possession, once again giving BYU a great starting spot from the USC 27-yard line, but the Trojans defense held firm and limited BYU to a go-ahead field goal. USC answered with a field goal on the next possession, and then the team traded touchdown drives.

Zach Wilson completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Dax Milne to give BYU a 17-10 lead, but the Trojans tied things up with a five-yard run by Vave Malepeai to cap an 11-play drive.

It’s anyone’s game going to the second half. USC is looking to improve to 3-0 a year after winning just five games.