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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utah-postgame updated.jpg

Steve Sarkisian Presser: Utah 24, USC 21

Here is head coach Steve Sarkisian after the Trojans' heart-breaking loss to Utah late Saturday night...

A Valuable Trip Already

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Stacey Johnson Leininger has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, which has metastasized to her liver and lungs.  With that harsh truth in mind, she posted some last requests on a USC fan Facebook page, which made their way to the football team.

So, upon arriving in Salt Lake City, the Trojans fulfilled one of Leininger's dreams by spending some time with her in the lobby of the team hotel.  She was overjoyed to meet QB Cody Kessler and WR Nelson Agholor.


Friday Night Video: Utah

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The Friday Night Video is back on Friday nights, so the Trojan Family can be properly hyped for the big game. 

Here is this week's Friday Night Video:

2014 Game 8: USC vs. Utah

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No. 20 USC Trojans (5-2, 4-1) at No. 19 Utah Utes (5-1, 2-1)

Rice-Eccles Stadium at 8 p.m. local time (7 p.m. PT) on Fox Sports 1

Ute to Watch: Senior DE Nate Orchard

Orchard-Utah.jpgOrchard leads the fiercest pass rush in college football as Utah averages 5.5 sacks per game, including 10 against Brett Hundley and UCLA in the Utes win at the Rose Bowl.  Orchard is second in the nation with 10.5 sacks, and he comes in hot with six sacks in his last two games.  As Fox Sports 1 analyst Charles Davis said on Trojans Live this week, the Utes are like "an NFL pass rush. They are looking to stop the run on the way to the quarterback."

Click here for more on the Utes.

3 Keys

Show What You've Learned

The young USC offensive line went back to school under Tim Drevno after the Boston College loss, which saw them exposed by a veteran front in a road atmosphere.  Ever since, the Trojans have improved week-by-week providing a cushy pocket for Cody Kessler to set records and paving the way for Buck Allen to lead the Pac-12 in rushing.  Now, Utah provides a midterm exam worthy of a final.  If the offensive line can stall the Utes' pass rush and force the game to be decided by perimeter athletes, USC will have a distinct advantage.

Scoreboard Pressure

Steve Sarkisian has made his game plan clear. He wants his offense to be his best defense by controlling the scoreboard even more than worrying about time of possession.  Utah has the second best rushing attack in the Pac-12, but the second worst passing offense. The Utes will undoubtedly pound Devontae Booker over and over again into the thin USC front seven hoping to wear the Trojans down by the fourth quarter.  Other than getting off the field on third down, Sarkisian hopes that taking an early lead will force the Utes to play to their statistical weakness instead of their strength.

Automatic Andre or Alex

The head coach also pointed to the kicking game as a potential deciding factor.  Special teams is Utah's strength led by "Automatic" Andy Phillips, who is the conference's leading scorer per game (13/15 on field goals). The Utes also feature a dangerous return man in Kaelin Clay, who leads the nation with three punt return TDs. USC has not attempted a field goal in the last two games as Andre Heidari sat out with a sore groin and Alex Wood handled kickoffs and extra points. If this game turns into a physical, grinding affair, the Trojans cannot afford to leave three points on the field or give up a special teams six. 


Daland Memorial

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A public celebration of the life of legendary USC men's swimming coach Peter Daland, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 93, will be held on Nov. 21 at 10:30 a.m. at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on the USC campus.

Click here to reserve a seat (passcode: daland).

Daland, who died on Oct. 20 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., led the Trojans to nine NCAA team championships during his 35-year (1958-92) tenure. His USC teams also placed second at the NCAA meet 11 times, won 17 league crowns and posted a 318-31-1 (.917) dual meet record. A six-time National Coach of the Year, his swimmers captured 93 NCAA and 155 Pac-10 individual and relay titles.

The pool at the new Uytengsu Aquatics Center is named for Daland.

In lieu of flowers, Daland's family requests that donations be made to the Peter Daland Endowed Head Swimming Coach's Chair to endow the men's swimming head coach's position (c/o Ron Orr, USC Athletic Department, Heritage Hall, Los Angeles, Calif. 90089-0602).

Here is four-time Olympic gold medalist John Naber on Trojans Live this week talking about his late, great coach: