Adoree' Knows

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

As a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, given to the nation's most versatile college football player, it's pretty obvious that Adoree' Jackson knows versatility better than anyone else in the country. The sophomore is the only player in the FBS to have scored on offense, defense and special teams this season. 

This season, Jackson has 382 yards and two touchdowns on 24 receptions, 23 tackles and a pick-six and 729 return yards with a punt return touchdown. With one regular season game remaining, the sophomore is looking to etch his name in the USC record books and college football history books as one of the most dynamic and exciting players of all time. 

The 2015 Hornung Award winner will be announced on December 11. The fan vote makes up six percent of the final voting. To cast your vote for Adoree', click here.  


Going for the Clinch

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

It's not just rivalry week for football as the USC women's volleyball team also squares off against UCLA for the second time this season at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday at the Galen Center. The Women of Troy are looking to maintain their No. 1 ranking and a potentially clinch the Pac-12 championship with another victory over the Bruins.

The teams last met in September at Pauley Pavilion where the Trojans dominated in a 3-0 sweep. If the Women of Troy are successful again, they will force a tie in the BMW Crosstown Cup before football tries to take the lead on Saturday.

Click here for a full preview of the Women of Troy's week ahead. 

The Women of Troy will also face Cal on Friday in the final regular season home game where seniors Samantha Bricio, Eve Ettinger and Alicia Ogoms will be honored. If USC wins both games, it will clinch the Pac-12 title for the first time since 2011. Also, if the Women of Troy win at least one of the two games on the schedule this week, they will reach the 30-win mark for the third time under head coach Mick Haley.


Stellar Start

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

At 4-0, USC women's basketball is off to it's best start in 22 years after clinching a narrow overtime victory over West Virginia in the team's second game of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Women's Challenge on Monday. Graduate transfer Temi Fagbenle (pictured), who finished with her first Trojan double-double, and junior Courtney Jaco led the Women of Troy with 20 points apiece.

Click here for a complete recap of USC's overtime finish.

After trading the lead 14 times in regulation, the Trojans outshot the Mountaineers, 14-3, in overtime to secure the win. It was the first close game for the Women of Troy this season, who won their previous three games against Hope International, Santa Clara and Grand Canyon by a margin of 30 points or more.

USC will face Gonzaga at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the final Spokane game of the Challenge before heading to Connecticut next week to finish the event with a game against Iona on November 29 at 9 a.m. PT. That game will be streamed online on ESPN3.


Trojans in Business: David Kirtman

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Name: David Kirtman

Resume: Vice President at J.P. Morgan, Single Stock/Program Sales Trading

Sport at USC: Football

Caroline Deisley (CD): How hard was it be the guy that everyone knew as "Another Touchdown Courtesy of Kirtman" and be a business major in the Marshall School of Business?

David Kirtman (DK): School in general is just very, very difficult when you're expected to perform at such a high level at your sport. We didn't have the luxury of just waking up and going to class. It was hard to focus on school because we were building something special especially my true freshman year. It was kind of our first big Pac-10 win and a BCS bowl berth and win. It became very difficult to prioritize but you have to realize you're at an amazing university. You're getting this amazing opportunity to play for not only a top tier football program but also to be at a top tier school. You really had to bear down and focus if you wanted to take advantage of those opportunities.

CD: Why business? Did you always know that that was what you wanted to study coming in?

DK: I knew I wanted to be in the business school just because it had such a good name, the Marshall School of Business. My father always pushed going into business and learning all the nuances. He always thought that it would take you further than any sport. I definitely focused on that when choosing schools and focused on that when getting into USC. It wasn't a very easy decision to make as far as the work load. There are a few other majors that are less demanding as far as my time and my commitment but when you're given the opportunity to be in the Marshall School of Business I think you need to take it.

CD: What experiences do you remember from your time at 'SC that have helped you get where you are now at J.P. Morgan and helped you succeed?

DK: Other athletes at USC who are highly-recruited 5-star athletes, they came to USC with a very high pedigree. I wouldn't say I was the most recruited high school player or the best football player when I first started out at the university. I spent my first two years really on the practice squad and I didn't get much playing time until really my redshirt sophomore season which is already my junior year of college. I think that helped me as far as being humble and really working at your trade and trying to win in other ways as far as whether it's your knowledge of the game, your work ethic or just the heart that you have. For me, getting into banking, I wasn't necessarily dealt with a difficult hand but I didn't go to an Ivy League school but when I was interviewing with these banks, they were like, 'Look, you don't have an Ivy League school on your resume. We can't even get you past the first round.' That kind of put a chip on my shoulder with them not giving me an opportunity just based on some sort of filter that HR would have. It made me want to work harder and beat everyone else that had that pedigree and would take the opportunity for granted. I think that's what drove me to get into the business and be successful because I was at a disadvantage just because of where I went to school which is a shame because USC was such a great school but so many banks these days have so many applicants that they have to filter it at some level.

CD: A lot of former players have said how much they miss the college game because it was just about football and then once they get to the NFL they really see it for the business that it is. As a business guy, did you feel like you had an understanding of the business aspect of professional football that you could use as an advantage especially when you bounced around from team to team?

DK: I understood and I never took it personality. I didn't have the most illustrious NFL career. I was released four or five times in a matter of four years. The first time I was cut as a rookie, that was the most difficult time. I don't think I had ever been cut by any team in my entire athletic career so that I took personally. I think it's very easy to get caught up in the numbers and the business aspect of the NFL and it's very, very distracting. It can take people's attention away from what's really at hand and that's playing the sport you love and competing at the highest level. I think anyone going into the NFL at first is new to the whole business aspect and new to the fact that they can be in one place one day and another the next. It's a very scary thought for someone who has been so successful in sports their whole life. I understood the business aspect but I don't know if it helped me handle it any better. I think the business aspect is irrelevant in how you should approach the game. I think you have to understand the business in that you could be gone not just because you didn't make the right play but because you're too expensive or they're keeping two tight ends instead of two fullbacks so that's what you need to understand in terms of business. It's still football, it's still a sport and the best player 90 percent of the time does play.

Photo Gallery: Hoops Starts 4-0

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USC men's basketball capped its season opening four-game home stand with an emphatic victory over Cal State Northridge on Monday night, defeating the Matadors 96-61. The Trojans are now averaging 92.5 points per game in their unbeaten start.

Next up: USC travels to Orlando for the AdvoCare Invitational. The Trojans open up the three-game tournament with No. 20 Wichita State on Thursday at 11 a.m. PT (ESPN2).

Here are the John McGillen photos from the win over CSUN:

UCLA Tuesday: Notes

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The Trojans kicked off rivalry week with the annual Conquest bonfire and pep rally last night, and they are back on the practice field today.
  • Some reinforcements arrived just in time for USC. S Marvell Tell III, who has been out for weeks with a broken collarbone, practiced this morning. "That was like a Christmas present," said interim head coach Clay Helton.
  • Also, RB Tre Madden appears to be back on track to play a role this week. "It feels good, way better. I'll be on the field," said the senior tailback. "I just want to be out there on the field with my brothers. It's going to be emotional. My uncle played in this stadium, my grandpa played in this stadium, it's my last game here so I want to go out with a bang."
  • And, Viane Talamaivao has a chance to return. "I feel good. Practice was good today. I feel ready to play," he said. "I should be ready to go."
  • WR JuJu Smith-Schuster has taken a beating this season, and he puts himself at about 75 percent physically. The coaches have advised him to calm down in practice to rest his body this week. Of course, the excitable sophomore is still fired up. "For USC and UCLA to go at it for the Pac-12 South, it's awesome," he said. "This is the best team right here in UCLA, and we're going to bring our best game and we're going to see who wins the Battle of LA."
  • Channeling that fire into positive energy will be key for the Trojans this week in a heated rivalry game. "Our team is good at controlling our emotions," said Madden. "Our freshmen, they're not freshmen anymore. They've been on the field playing in big games. We've been through a lot of big games this year and everyone's going to be focused, ready to go."
  • Like Madden, QB Cody Kessler has the added emotion of Senior Day. "It's been a long ride for me, a very, very emotional and drama-filled ride, but it'll be fun," said the captain. "I've always loved playing in front of the fans at the Coliseum and it's been a great journey for me. Obviously, it'll be emotional but I can look back at that after the game. My main focus is on winning the football game and staying locked in."
  • Helton on the seniors: "Resilient. Definition of 'Fight On.' They have a good opportunity to finish a tremendous story this year. It starts with this game against a really talented football team in UCLA."
  • Kessler and the Trojans know that one win can salvage a wild season. "I told Coach Helton, 'The football gods must be looking out for us.' It's been an emotional year, up and down, there's been a lot of drama, wins and losses both ways, and guys have kind of really bounced back each week no matter what has happened. We have an opportunity to do something great and these chances don't come very often," he said.
  • As for the other team's quarterback, Helton sees similarities between Josh Rosen and Cody Kessler. "I'm really impressed with him. As a true freshman doing what he's doing as far as his completion ratio. To see a kid with an almost 62% completion ratio. He reminds us of our guy, an unbelievable decision maker."
  • Here is more from Helton on "one of the epic rivalries in college football"...

Highlights: USC 96, CSUN 61

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The USC men's basketball team is off to a phenomenal start this season, winning its first four consecutive games at the Galen Center, most recently Monday night's, 96-61, victory over Cal State Northridge. Shots were raining down from all over the court and from a host of different Trojans, including Katin Reinhardt who was 5/8 from beyond the arc and Jordan McLaughlin who led USC with 20 points. 

Next up, the Trojans hit the road for the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, Florida where they'll face No. 20 Wichita State on Thursday 11 a.m. PT on ESPN2.

Check out the countless highlights from Monday night's big win...

NCAA Bound

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USC men's water polo finished third in the MPSF tournament last weekend, earning the team an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament for the 11th straight year. The Trojans fought back to upset the No. 2 ranked Pacific Tigers, 8-4, thanks in large part to a hat trick from junior driver Blake Edwards.

Click here for a full recap from Sunday's victory.

USC avenged its regular season loss to Pacific by roaring back with a four-goal rally despite falling behind early, 2-0. Goalie McQuin Baron earned his keep with 18 saves and is now seventh on USC's all-time list for career saves with 534. The third-place finish came after the Trojans fell to crosstown rival UCLA on Saturday, 6-3, in the semifinals of the tournament.

The Trojans are now 20-6 overall making this the program's eighth consecutive 20-win season. The first round of the NCAA tournament begins with USC's play-in game against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 7 p.m. on December 3 at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.

Here are the highlights from Sunday's upset victory over Pacific...

2015 NFL Week 11

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buck-nfl.jpgThe Best

Buck Allen, RB, Ravens

Allen has been a complementary piece all season long in Baltimore, but the rookie finally has his chance to shine. Starting tailback Justin Forsett broke his arm against the Rams, so Allen became the feature back. He helped carry the Ravens to just their third win of the season, running for 67 yards on 22 carries. He also displayed his versatility by catching five passes for 48 yards. Allen is still awaiting his first NFL touchdown, but he should get many more chances in the season's final months.

Best of the Rest

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals - 20/31 for 317 yards and 4 TDs

Everson Griffen, DE, Vikings - 4 tackles (3 solo), including two for loss (one sack) and a pass defended

Frostee Rucker, DE, Cardinals - 6 tackles (4 solo), including one for loss

Leonard Williams, DE, Jets - 6 tackles (3 solo), including one for loss and three QB hits

Malcolm Smith, LB, Raiders - 5 tackles (4 solo), including a sack

Clay Matthews, LB, Packers - 6 solo, including two for loss

Jordan Cameron, TE, Dolphins - 2 catches for 21 yards and a touchdown

T.J. McDonald, S, Rams - 7 tackles (2 solo) and a pass defended

Jurrell Casey, DT, Titans - A sack

Rhett Ellison, TE, Vikings - 2 catches for 19 yards

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles - 3 catches for 11 yards

Hayes Pullard, LB, Jaguars - 2 solo tackles

Taylor Mays, S, Raiders - 2 solo tackles

Brian Cushing, LB, Texans - 5 tackles (4 solo), including one for loss

Mike Morgan, LB, Seahawks - 4 tackles (2 solo)

McGillen Galleries: USC at Oregon

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The Trojans visited Autzen Stadium for the first time since 2011 last Saturday and John McGillen was there to capture every moment from pregame warm ups to the final whistle.