6-Points: USC 45, Fresno State 20

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The Trojans finish a tumultuous season strong by hitting the 10-win mark.

Click here for the final stats and game recap.

The "Fight On 50"

MCG_9247.jpgOn head coach No. 3 and with only 47 scholarship players suited up, the Trojans persevered through all the negative numbers to reach the milestone number that mattered most, win No. 10.  "It is a huge testament to the players we have on this team and the coaching staff," said captain Devon Kennard.  "To get 10 wins with everything that we've gone through, this is a season I am never going to forget and brothers that I am going to have for the rest of my lifetime."  Senior leaders like Kennard made it possible.  "This was the senior group that came in with the sanctions that were supposed to equal the death penalty for USC.  Now, two out of the last three years, they finished with 10-win seasons," said interim head coach Clay Helton.  "Every time this team has faced adversity, they have looked it in the eye and overcome it."

Carr Wreck

Derek Carr and the nation's No. 1 passing offense were the story coming into the game, but the USC defense never let Fresno State drive the length of the field, and the Trojans halved the Bulldogs season averages in yards.  Helton explained that Clancy Pendergast's "aggressive" approach was the key.  "Clancy came after him, and I really thought got Derek off his spot a lot in that game and made him uncomfortable," he said.  Carr finished 30/54 for 217 yards and a red zone interception (by Josh Shaw).

Bakersfield's Best

The match-up was billed as a battle of the Bakersfield quarterbacks, but Cody Kessler was the clear winner on the day.  He threw a personal best 4 touchdown passes and completed 22/30 for 344 yards.  He was named the Las Vegas Bowl MVP.  Watching from the booth, new head coach Steve Sarkisian commented that Kessler is the perfect QB to run his uptempo system and complimented his athleticism after a key 17-yard run on third down.

A Man Possessed

MCG_0751.jpgDuring the loss to UCLA, sophomore CB Kevon Seymour was victimized time after time, and Fresno State came with the same game plan.  This time, Seymour responded to the challenge earning Las Vegas Bowl Defensive MVP honors in the process.  He posted a team-leading 7 tackles in a dominating and physical performance.  "I just had to look at the man in the mirror, and let myself know it is time to go," said Seymour about his change in mindset.  "I was playing with a chip on my shoulder.  I had to determine if I wanted to be good or if I wanted to be great."

If this is the last time...

If that was the last game of Marqise Lee's historic USC career, the 2012 Biletnikoff winner went out as he came in as a dynamic playmaker.  He caught 7 passes for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns.  "I actually came out here 100% for the first time, and it felt amazing," said Lee who had been banged up since Fall Camp. "Our whole focus was let's show 'em.  We knew what we are capable of when we come together and play as one."  

The Undefeated Coach

Clay Helton will go down in the USC record book at 1-0 as head coach of the Trojans.  "I want to make sure that is in the media guide, so I can frame it for my kids one day," joked the interim head coach.  As modest and unassuming as they come, Helton made the whole experience about the players, and they rewarded him with a tremendous effort.  "We came in here saying we were going to make the Trojan Family proud, and we were not going to let this be a wasted season.  We were going to make some special memories and have as much fun as we possibly could.  And we accomplished that goal," Helton said.

Extra Point...

One More for O

Several players wrote "Coach O" on their bodies and uniforms in tribute to Ed Orgeron who sparked the remarkable turnaround this season.  "It's good to come out here and leave this season with a victory and do it for Coach O because he led us down this path," said RB Buck Allen, who had two more TD runs.  They also took a group photo making an O for Orgeron (pictured).

(Photos by John McGillen)

Here are the SnappyTV highlights of the Las Vegas Bowl victory...

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