6-Points: USC 17, Utah St. 14

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The USC defensive front seven shut down Heisman hopeful Chuckie Keeton, and carried the Trojans to a victory.

Click here for the game recap.

Click here for the final stats.

Pullard-USU-McG.jpgCharged with Harassment

All week, the USC defense heard the name Chuckie Keeton over and over again, so the defensive linemen introduced themselves down after down today.  Keeton averaged 370 total yards per game coming into the match-up, but he managed just 164 on the afternoon.  He was sacked four times and tackled for loss when he turned into a runner to the tune of -15 rush yards.  Leonard Williams had a team-high 8 tackles (3 TFLs), while Morgan Breslin (2), George Uko and Devon Kennard combined for the sacks.  Who stood out the most? "All of them," said Lane Kiffin.  "I think they stood out to Chuckie Keeton too.  Unbelievable performance by them today."

Professor Pendergast

Utah State was averaging nearly 50 points per game on the season, but the Aggies were the latest offense to be overmatched by Clancy Pendergast's 5-2 scheme.  "Clancy did another job," said Kiffin about his big offseason hire.  "We passed the next test.  We've faced different offenses all four weeks, and really have done a great job."  The players have been completely re-energized by the new scheme.  "From the looks of it, we executed the game plan," said Leonard Williams.  "We have a lot of great leaders on the defense, and we just push each other.  [Pendergast] just lets us fly around and make plays."

Winning on the Outside

After watching USC use a ground and pound attack for three weeks, Utah State adjusted by loading the box with eight defenders and playing one-on-one press coverage on the outside.  In the past, USC would welcome a chance for Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor to go deep, but the timing was off today.  "We have to hit those plays outside.  A couple were dropped, and then a couple we missed the throws.  You've got to make them pay and make those plays outside when they are there to make," said Kiffin. 

Grimble-USU-JK.jpgWinner by Decision

USC had several opportunities to bury the Aggies in the second half thanks to dominant defense and expert punting by Kris Albarado (5 punts inside the 20), but the Trojans' offense was unable to deliver the knockout blow.  "Unfortunately, we did not capitalize enough with the field position," said Kiffin.  "We kept getting really good field position from our defense and special teams, and we weren't able to finish them off."  QB Cody Kessler said, "It's not good enough just to win," but he thinks the offense is not far away from a big day if the Trojans can "fix the little things." 

Fan Favorite

The offense did not make many plays, but the biggest came on a 30-yard touchdown strike from Kessler to TE Xavier Grimble.  "We practice it every day in practice, and I knew I was going to be wide open," said Grimble about the seam route.  "I love to go down through the middle and make that big catch."  Week after week, the fans ask, 'Why don't we throw it to the tight ends more?'  Well, Grimble says it will come in time.  "As the season goes on, we are going to keep getting better and keep improving.  We're going to see some more balls."

Credit the Aggies

Nobody blows out Utah State.  The Aggies have not lost a game by more than 10 points since 2010.  "That's a really good team with a great quarterback, a great rush end [Kyler Fackrell] who had the sack caused fumble today and they are going to give a lot of people a lot of problems like they have for years," said Kiffin.  While Kessler expects more from the USC offense, he credited Utah State with making life difficult on the Trojans.  "I tip my hat to them.  That is hands down the best defense we have played so far.  Those guys are relentless with their rush and their pass coverage." 

(Top photo by John McGillen; bottom photo by Jenn Kassar)

Extra Point

Devilish Match-up

The win today sets up a Pac-12 South showdown in Tempe next week.  "I can't wait to go play somewhere else.  It's been awhile," said WR Marqise Lee about the road trip after three consecutive home games.  "I know ASU is going to bring their game, and we are going to bring ours."

Here is USC vs. Utah State in 60 seconds:

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