Infographic: USC 38, Arizona 30

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6-Points: USC 38, Arizona 30

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The Trojans rally to a Homecoming victory and extend their winning streak to three.

Click here for the recap and final stats.

Click here for the Rapid Reaction.

Click here for the post-game press conference.

image2.JPGCall It a Comeback

For the first time since 2012, USC overturned a double-digit deficit to come away victorious. "They just continue to amaze me," said interim head coach Clay Helton about his team. "Every time they are faced with adversity, they keep their poise." Helton pinpointed John Plattenburg's second quarter interception, with the Trojans trailing 14-3, as the momentum changer. "The big thing that helped me make the play was my coaches always telling me, 'Stay disciplined,'" said Plattenburg, who also tied Su'a Cravens for the team lead with eight tackles. One play after the pick, Cody Kessler hit JuJu Smith-Schuster in stride for a 72-yard touchdown and the comeback was on.


On Monday, Smith-Schuster was on an operating table, undergoing surgery on his broken right hand. Five days later, he made eight catches for 138 yards and a TD. "He is Superman," said Helton about the courageous sophomore. "We gave him a standing ovation in the locker room. He's the ultimate warrior." To the Coliseum crowd, Smith-Schuster looked like himself, but inside, he was being put to the test. "It's a miracle I played today. I was in a lot of pain," he said. "My whole mindset was to come back and play in this game. I knew that when it was time to play, I didn't care about the pain."

The Second Coming

The USC offense has made a commitment to run the football, giving freshman Ronald Jones II the chance to showcase his immense talent. Tonight, he broke the single-game school rushing record, carrying 19 times for 177 yards. "It definitely took until the second or third quarters to get things rolling, but once it was there, my offensive line did a great job," Jones said. "They make my job look easy. I just have to hit the hole and break a few tackles." He sealed the game with a scintillating 74-yard touchdown run, but Helton was most proud of his TD catch because it showed that he is "becoming a complete player."

Run Stuffers

ronald-record.jpgArizona came into the game averaging 265 rush yards per game, but the Trojans took away the Wildcats' strength, limiting them to a season-low 60 yards on the ground. "The big thing I saw that we really did great this game was everybody running to the ball, pursuing the ball," said Plattenburg. The effort started up front led by senior DT Antwaun Woods who had three tackles-for-loss, including two sacks. "He really took a step forward at Cal and then took two steps forward in this game," Helton said about Woods. "He's the rock of our defense. He's the rock of our locker room. He showed his captain leadership tonight."

About that First Quarter

The Trojans were forced to come back because the team came out flat on both sides of the ball. "I thought we were sloppy in the first quarter. That's about as honest as I can be," said Helton. USC was held to 12 first quarter yards, turned the ball over on a bad exchange between Kessler and Tre Madden, and allowed Arizona QB Anu Solomon to throw two touchdown passes in the first 16 minutes of the game. But, Helton and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox made the necessary coaching and motivational adjustments. "With Coach Clay, he just talks to us in a certain way that gets us pumped," said Plattenburg. "It's not how you start, it's how you finish, and I think we did a good job of that."

Survive and Advance

The Trojans are 3-0 in the second half of the season and sit one game behind Utah in the thick of the Pac-12 South race. "Our team goal right now is to be undefeated in November and everything will take care of itself," Plattenburg said. To a man, the Trojans credit their resurgence to bonding as a family under Helton's leadership. As for the interim head coach, he beams with optimism, instilling confidence into a once unstable locker room. "I'm having the time of my life," Helton said. "You can't have any more fun than I'm having."

Here are the game highlights:

Friday Night Video: Arizona

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The Trojans decided to watch their Friday Night Video on Saturday morning, so here it is, better late than never, to get you fired up for Homecoming.

2015 Game 9: USC vs. Arizona

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Arizona Wildcats (5-4, 2-4) at USC Trojans (5-3, 3-2)

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN and WatchESPN (also available in Spanish)

Wildcat to Watch: Senior QB Jerrard Randall

AYU_9311.jpgAfter a promising freshman campaign, QB Anu Solomon has struggled this season, throwing just three touchdown passes in conference play. He also missed time with a concussion, providing backup Jerrard Randall an opportunity to contribute. Randall does not possess the same arm talent, but he is a game changer with his legs. He is averaging 9.93 yards per carry, which ranks No. 1 in the nation. Without injured starting RB Nick Wilson, expect Arizona to lean on Randall more in the run game.

(Photo by Austin Yu)

Click here for more on the Wildcats.

3 Keys

Rich Run

In his four years at Arizona, Rich Rodriguez's rush offense has ranked second in the Pac-12 three times, including this season. While his system sets up differently than Stanford or Utah, the results are the same if not better. The Wildcats will speed the Trojans up, spread them out and then give their QBs run-pass options, hoping to catch the defense out of alignment. USC must remain disciplined to control the line of scrimmage and repeat the success of the last two weeks.

"Trust Your Guys"

Those are the words of interim head coach Clay Helton to Cody Kessler in the potential absence of star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Assuming the broken hand sidelines "Superman," Arizona will likely load the box to stop the run and force Kessler to beat them with unheralded pass catchers. While Deontay Burnett, Jalen Greene and De'Quan Hampton may have come into USC without the stardust of many of their teammates, they are proving their value on the field. Saturday is another opportunity to show what they can do.

Happy Homecoming

The vibe in the Coliseum has completely turned under Helton's leadership and Homecoming Saturday is a great stage to maintain the momentum. The Trojans are very much alive in the Pac-12 South, needing to win out and hope Utah loses at least one more game. While the Utes have a tricky test in Seattle on Saturday, USC needs only to be focused on taking care of its own business. Homecoming is a celebration of the Trojan Family, and there's no better way to celebrate than a football victory.


Getting Even

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

The No. 14 USC women's soccer team closes out its regular season tonight against rival UCLA with a chance to even things up in the annual Crosstown Cup competition. Last year, an NCAA-record 10,128 fans showed up for the rivalry match at the Coliseum which ended in a 2-0 loss for the Trojans. This season, the Women of Troy are up for the challenge of playing in a hostile environment and exacting revenge to end conference play on a high note. 

The Trojans and Bruins clash at 6 p.m. at Drake Stadium in Westwood. The game will be aired live on Pac-12 Networks. Be sure to follow @USC_WSoccer for in-game updates and more. 


Freshmen Phenoms

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

A true freshman has never led USC in tackles and has only once led the Trojans in rushing. In 2015, linebacker Cameron Smith and running back Ronald Jones II are looking to etch their names in the USC record books by finishing the season atop both lists. Currently, Smith leads the team with 66 tackles while Jones leads the Trojan rushing attack with 533 yards. 

For more on the phenomenal freshmen and to follow their pursuit, click here.

Home for Homecoming

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

The No. 2 USC women's volleyball team sustained its first loss of the season last week against Washington, but the Trojans remain confident and unfazed entering a four-match homestand this week.

Click here for a preview on USC's four upcoming matches in the next seven days.

"I'm so happy that it happened during the season rather than the postseason," explained head coach Mick Haley regarding the loss in his weekly women's volleyball update. "I'm really happy that we got out of [Washington] 1-1. We've got a chance now to work on some things to give us a chance to be even better."

The Women of Troy host Colorado on Friday at 8 p.m. and Utah on Sunday at 11 a.m. The busy week continues next Wednesday against Oregon (7:30 p.m.) and then wraps up on Thursday versus Oregon State (7:30 p.m.). The matches against the Buffaloes, Utes and Ducks will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.

Homecoming on the Beach

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Homecoming is about more than a football game. USC alums return to campus from around the world for a weekend of celebrating as a Trojan Family.

In that spirit, USC men's volleyball and women's beach volleyball are hosting the second annual USC Legends Homecoming Beach Volleyball Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Merle Norman Stadium. The guest list is a who's who of the game's greats including Tim Hovland and Steve Obradovich, College Players of the Year Bryan Ivie and Tony Ciarelli, All-Americans Bob Yoder, Bill Stetson and Riley McKibbin and current beach pro Geena Urango (pictured).

All-American setter and Olympic gold medalist Dusty Dvorak, who led USC to a pair of NCAA titles, will serve as the tourney's Honorary Legend.

Click here for more.

Nine teams will begin pool play in the 4-person tournament at 6 p.m. on Friday, with Saturday's single elimination play starting at 1 p.m. and the final slated for 5 p.m. prior to the USC football team's Homecoming game against Arizona in the Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 per day, including a buffet meal, and proceeds benefit the men's volleyball and women's beach volleyball programs.


Pac-12 Preview: USC vs. Arizona

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Can the Trojans extend their winning streak to three? Arizona stands in the way on Homecoming Saturday.

Find out what USC legends Matt Leinart and Curtis Conway think in this week's Pac-12 Network preview with Mike Yam.

Arizona Thursday: Helton Presser

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On Saturday, the Trojans face what interim head coach Clay Helton described as their "biggest challenge to date" as far as run/pass option opponents go against an Arizona Wildcat team averaging 265 rushing yards per game. In his final address to the media this week, Helton discussed USC's plan of attack as well as injury updates on WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cam Smith and more.