Following a close victory over Minnesota in the opener, USC hosted Utah in the first-ever Pac-12 conference football game. The Trojans aimed to gain the head-to-head advantage against a team projected to finish in the top half of the South division.
“You kept hoping for a play that would end the game,” said USC coach Lane Kiffin. “I thought our guys came out good again. We’re there. We’re playing really well in all phases of the game. We’re just not putting people away.”
Junior quarterback Matt Barkley echoed similar sentiments.
“We had so many chances to put that game away,” Barkley said. “The defense won this game for us, no doubt about it.”
Positives: Freshman kicker Andre Heidari nailed a 47-yard field goal early in the game and showed his range. Senior tailback Marc Tyler returned from suspension to lift the USC ground game that struggled in the season opener against Minnesota.
He tallied 113 yards on 24 carries and helped establish an offensive rhythm. Most importantly, the defense and special teams came through down the stretch. Utah only notched 319 yards and failed to score in the first and fourth quarters. Junior left tackle Matt Kalil blocked the Utes’ tying field goal attempt at the end of the game and redshirt sophomore cornerback Torin Harris scooped it up for a touchdown to punctuate the victory.
Negatives: As both Kiffin and Barkley alluded to in the post game, the USC offense squandered several opportunities to pull away from Utah. Two fumbles and an interception cut several drives short. The Trojans also committed seven penalties, many of which negated big plays.