Pac-12 Passes Major Reforms

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Through a vote of the conference presidents and chancellors, the Pac-12 adopted sweeping reforms today guaranteeing four year scholarships, covering up to four years of medical care for injured student-athletes and enabling transfers within the conference to receive athletic scholarships immediately. 

Plus, student-athletes who leave school early in good standing will be able to use the remainder of their educational expenses to earn their degree at a later date, and Pac-12 student-athletes will be included in the conference's governance structure.

Click here for the complete release.

Many of these changes are already in action at USC, and they signal the Pac-12's clear mission to better support student-athletes across all sports.  The conference presidents and chancellors are also in agreement on supporting the full cost of attendance for scholarships, which will come to a vote among the Power 5 conferences in January.

"USC is very supportive of the student-athlete reform measures announced today by the Pac-12," said athletic director Pat Haden.  "At USC, we already have had in place provisions for four-year scholarships, continuing education and extended medical care for our student-athletes and they have been well received.    

"Today's announcement not only will strengthen what USC already does, but will provide uniformity at all Pac-12 schools.  We believe these measures are the right thing to do for student-athletes across the conference."

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Sarkisian Q&A: Washington State Week

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In our weekly Q&A with the head coach, Steve Sarkisian discussed the loss at Utah, two key injuries and the challenge ahead in Pullman.

Special Freshman

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Adoree' Jackson was named the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week after his outstanding 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Utah on Saturday. The freshman kick returner ranks fifth in the nation in kickoff returns averaging 33.7 yards per return and is just the third Trojan ever to go end zone to end zone. Jackson's stellar game didn't end there as he also recorded four tackles (one for a loss) and forced and recovered a fumble.

Click here for the Pac-12 release.


Soccer Clutches Up

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In desperate need of victories, USC women's soccer showed the urgency of the moment pulling off back-to-back double overtime wins at Oregon and Oregon State. 

Against the Ducks, freshman Sydney Sladek (pictured) played the hero netting her second career goal in the 104th minute. And then in Corvallis, Alex Quincey provided the golden goal in a 2-1 victory played in rainy conditions.

Click here for the latest recap.

Whitney Pitalo, who scored the game-tying goal against the Beavers, was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.

"We have talked about the intensity needed to play," said head coach Keidane McAlpine after the Oregon win. "Tonight we competed from the opening whistle to the last. I am very happy with the contribution that every last player made and we need to carry it forward."

The Women of Troy must maintain their edge with two more road games this week at Washington (Friday at 4 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks) and Washington State (Sunday at 1 p.m. PT).  They cap the season at the Coliseum against UCLA under the lights on November 7.


Butler Joins Century Club

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No. 2 USC men's water polo enjoyed a pair of victories last week defeating Loyola Marymount 19-7 on the road and then coming home to beat Pacific 11-6. With three goals in the two matches, senior Rex Butler (pictured) became the 32nd Trojan all-time to score 100 career goals.

Click here for the Pacific recap.

USC now has the week to prepare for a Sunday showdown against UCLA under the lights at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The Trojans and Bruins have split the first two matchups this season, so valuable SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup points will be on the line.


Monster Match

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No. 13 USC women's volleyball collected a four set win in Berkeley on Wednesday and then dropped a four-setter to No. 1 Stanford in Palo Alto on Sunday. The Women of Troy actually returned to Los Angeles between matches, and now they are back at Galen Center for undefeated No. 3 Washington (Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. PT) and Washington State (Friday at 6 p.m. PT).

Click here for more.

Friday's clash is a "Monster Match" on Halloween night giving the Trojan Family a chance to trick-or-treat at Galen Center with USC student-athletes.


Wheeler Tears ACL

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USC LT Chad Wheeler is out for the season after tearing an ACL on the second offensive series Saturday night in Utah, head coach Steve Sarkisian announced Sunday. 

Unbeknownst to the coaches and trainers, Wheeler actually injured his knee and tried to play through the tear for "seven or eight snaps" said Sarkisian, which is emblematic of the sophomore's spirit.

"That is what we lose when Chad Wheeler comes out," Sarkisian said. "It's that sheer mental and physical toughness."

Senior Aundrey Walker will replace Wheeler in the starting lineup at left tackle.  OLB J.R. Tavai also injured his knee, but he is expected to return this season.


McGillen Galleries: USC vs Utah

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From Adoree' Jackson's 100-yard kickoff return to Su'a Cravens' monster sacks, John McGillen captured every wild moment of the Trojans' narrow loss to Utah on Saturday.

Here are his galleries:

6-Points: Utah 24, USC 21

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USC's roller coaster season continues as the Trojans drop a heartbreaker in Salt Lake City.

Click here for the recap and final stats.

Click here for the Rapid Reaction.

Familiar Feeling

FINAL-utah-score.jpg"We've been part of stuff this season that I've yet to experience in coaching. Just so many plays, one play here and one play there," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "We're living and dying by these moments."  The coach summed up the season well after another wild Pac-12 game.  Tonight, the Trojans died by a finishing sequence that saw them two yards from a game-sealing first down and then one yard from a game-winning goal line stand. The head coach was the first to take responsibility for the Trojans failure to close out the win.

Fits and Starts

The offense came out sharp in the first quarter, but struggled to find any kind of rhythm in the middle portion of the game, which featured mostly three-and-outs and turnovers. In the fourth quarter though, Cody Kessler (24/32 for 264 yards and 2 TD/1 INT) led a pair of impressive drives giving USC the lead and then a 3rd and 2 needing only a first down to seal victory.  On third down, Sarkisian elected to use Buck Allen (27 carries for 101 yards) as a decoy freeing FB Jahleel Pinner for a pass in the flat.  "Through film, Utah was a team that really liked to sell out in those short yardage situations, and they were going to go for it to try to get the stop," Sarkisian explained. "We felt like we had a good play call on the play pass with the big package.  The ball slipped out of Cody's hands. That happens."  On fourth down, the head coach chose not to kick a long field goal into a whipping wind and instead called a pitch out to Nelson Agholor (10 catches for 110 yards) who stepped out of bounds before picking up the necessary yardage.  After conservative calls cost the Trojans earlier this season, Sarkisian vowed to remain aggressive offensively in that situation going forward, so he does not regret the boldness of his decisions. "Thinking back on the calls, I like the calls that we made. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out how we wanted it to," he said.

One Too Many

As for the defense, the Trojans were solid most of the night limiting Utah RB Devontae Booker to 3.9 yards per carry, forcing four fumbles and holding the Utes to 17 points. Just like the wins at Stanford and Arizona, USC's best work defensively came in the Red Zone. The Trojans twice forced and recovered fumbles at the goal line, but Utah's final foray to the one-yard line proved to be the difference as Travis Wilson hit Kaelin Clay for the game-winning touchdown.  While USC contained the quarterback runs all night, the key play on the final drive was an 18-yard scramble by Wilson.  

Adore Adoree'

Adoree' Jackson would have been the star of the night if the Trojans had come away victorious.  The do-it-all freshman seemingly gets better every week.  Along with airtight defense at cornerback, including forcing one of the goal line fumbles, he broke off a 100-yard kickoff return despite catching the ball deep in the end zone. "JuJu [Smith] has the call. He was in charge. He told me to come out, so I trusted him," Jackson described the play. "Everybody made their blocks. It was really a great play by the other 10 people."

Deja Vu

Just like 2012, the Trojans fell behind on the second play of the game thanks to a bizarre defensive touchdown for the Utes.  WR Darreus Rogers dropped a lateral and the ball lay idly on the turf as both teams assumed the play would be whistled dead.  Finally, Davion Orphey was instructed by his sideline to scoop and score leaving the Trojans in a shocking hole. "I am at a loss for words," Rogers tried to explain the play. "I thought it was passed the line of scrimmage and an incomplete pass. I just had to have a short memory and come back and make some plays."  Rogers did exactly that making the go ahead touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.

Valuable Scars

The Trojans hopes in the Pac-12 South are on life support after this loss, but they have no intentions of giving up on the season. "We always have something to fight for. We're USC. We Fight On," said Rogers. "We're still coming hard each and every day."  In the bigger picture, Sarkisian expects the team to grow from these experiences. "We're learning a lot of lessons as a team about what it takes to be a champion," he said. "To be a champion, which I think we are capable of being, our execution at the critical moments must improve."

Here are the game highlights courtesy of the Pac-12:

Infographic: Utah 24, USC 21

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