USC football needed to make a statement to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive and it survived the scare from Arizona.
With just a mere six games on the schedule, USC is looking to run the slate and do so in convincing fashion to impress the playoff committee. The Trojans got off to the right foot last Saturday. Kedon Slovis and the Trojans dominated Arizona last season to the tune of a 41-14 victory.
For the Wildcats. this would be their first game in 350 days after their season opener last week got cancelled. Coming into the game, it would be expected for Arizona to start out slow. It would be foreshadowing as Arizona would’ve liked to have their first drive back.
After a near interception on the first play, USC would make quarterback Grant Gunnell pay as a high pass would be hauled in by USC safety Talanoa Hufanga. USC would turn it into a touchdown as running back Markese Stepp would score from a yard out.
Gunnell would shake the cobwebs off as he would lead a great drive. It would be finished with a Jamarye Joiner catch and run to answer the Trojans from 34 yards. A simple shallow route that Joiner would cut up the field and outrun the USC defense to the end zone.
Both teams would shoot themselves in the foot with key penalties. Especially a pass interference call on third-and-28, that would give the Trojans a first down. USC would end up with three on a Parker Lewis field goal from 30 yards out.
The trend of costly yellow flags on the turf would continue. On two separate occasions, the Trojans would bail out Arizona, to keep their drive going. The Wildcats could not capitalize as the Trojans would hold a three point lead.
After struggling through the first 25 minutes, Arizona’s run game would get going. Gunnell would be efficient with his legs and Brightwell with back to back first down runs. Arizona would connect on this field goal to tie the game at 10.
USC would respond with an impressive run game from Stephen Carr, something that has been missing up to that point. Carr would score on a 3-yard run as the Trojans
A late surge, featured Gunnell continuing to torch USC with his legs. Back to back first downs with his legs would put Arizona in prime position to score.
Lukas Havrichek would connect on his second field goal and add some momentum heading into half, down by four.
Slovis would take a shot that finally connects with wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. Even with the gain of 48, USC would once again stall out. USC would settle for another field goal to keep a one score lead at 20-13.
One big play would spark Arizona as Gunnell connects with wide receiver Tayvian Cunningham for 75 yards. Cunningham would beat Chris Steele as USC is on their heels very quickly with a tied game.
USC would once again settle for a field goal as their red zone woes would continue. What would make matters worse is their attempt was wide right.
On 4th and short inside the five, Stepp would be denied, with Arizona once again playing a fantastic defensive performance against the ground game.
With 7:49 to go, Arizona would take their first lead of the game on their third field goal of the game to put the Wildcats up, 23-20. A big pass from Slovis to Drake Smith would put the Trojans inside the five.
USC would take the lead with a Slovis strike to tight end Erik Krommenhoek to give them the lead with 3:30 to go.
Gunnell would answer as both offenses would trade blows. A screen to Stanley Berryhill would score from six yards out.
A terrific effort from Vavae Malepeai would give USC the lead with just 25 seconds left to play. Some great throws from Slovis show how clutch he is, similar to the ending of last week’s game against Arizona State.
One last gasp would not be enough as USC would survive, 34-30.