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UNFILTERED: Cal

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The Trojans are 2-0 in November after notching their 11th consecutive victory over the Cal Bears. Before we turn our attention entirely to beating the Bruins, here is an UNFILTERED look at Thursday night's victory:

Kessler vs. Leinart

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Cody Kessler is on pace to have one of the best seasons of any USC quarterback in school history, and people are beginning to take notice. A finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the junior quarterback has the nation's fourth-best completion percentage (70.2), has thrown the fourth-most touchdowns (29) and is the only quarterback to have attempted more than 300 passes with fewer than four interceptions.

"He's a couple plays away from being a top-10 team and a Heisman candidate in my eyes," Matt Leinart told the LA Times.

"His numbers are terrific, I think he's a great leader and he's still only a junior," Leinart told Lindsey Thiry. "He still has another year left, which is pretty scary."

Here's a graphic, via Reign of Troy, comparing Leinart's Heisman-winning season in 2004 to Kessler's numbers through 10 games in 2014.

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Sarkisian Q&A: UCLA Week

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USC head coach Steve Sarkisian addressed Nelson Agholor's breakout month, the fourth quarter defense and rivalry week in his weekly Q&A.


Photo Gallery: MWP Senior Day

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USC men's water polo knows how to do Senior Day.  The Trojans honored their national championship ringed quartet before taking down Cal 7-6 Saturday behind a pair of hat tricks from seniors Kostas Genidounias and Marc Vonderweidt.

Click here for the match recap.

The Trojans finished the regular season 21-4, and they will be the No. 3 seed at this weekend's MPSF Championship in Long Beach.  USC will need a strong showing at the conference tournament to earn an NCAA bid and keep hope alive for a seventh consecutive national championship.

Here are the John McGillen photos from Senior Day:


Photo Gallery: WVB Senior Day

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USC women's volleyball paid tribute to its senior class Friday night before falling in a classic five-setter to Cal.  For the Women of Troy, Hayley Crone, Hannah Schraer and Emily Young played their final home matches.

Here are the John McGillen photos:


Crosstown Kickoff Set

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The USC at UCLA battle for Los Angeles will kick off this Saturday at 5 p.m. PT in the Rose Bowl on ABC.

The Trojans and Bruins are playing for 10 SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup points, the Victory Bell and potentially the Pac-12 South.  After Arizona State lost to Oregon State this past Saturday, USC now needs to defeat UCLA and have the Sun Devils drop one of their remaining two games (Washington State and Arizona) to clinch the division.

Emotions will be running high on Saturday night.
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Nellyville

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USC junior wide receiver Nelson Agholor is raking in the accolades this week including being named a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, the National Wide Receiver of the Week and the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.

Click here for the official Biletnikoff release.

Click here for the Pac-12 release.

Agholor ranks third in the Pac-12 in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns.  He is coming off a career-best performance in the win over Cal with 16 catches, 216 yards and 2 TDs.

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Women's Soccer Wraps 2014

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For the first time since 2010, USC women's soccer made the NCAA Tournament, but the Women of Troy found out how cruel the single elimination format can be. The Trojans fell to Pepperdine in penalty kicks on Saturday ending their season in dramatic fashion.

Here is the post-game press conference with head coach Keidane McAlpine and the seniors:


Open Letter from USC and UCLA ADs

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Onward and Upward

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor 

The USC women's soccer team concluded its impressive season under new head coach Keidane McAlpine in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday, falling to the No. 4 Pepperdine Waves in penalty kicks in the first round of the NCAA tournament. 

"These are never easy. They're never anything that you can walk away from and feel just great about," said McAlpine. "In the same way, we are extremely proud of the season we had changing the direction of the program." 

The Trojans battled toe-to-toe with the Waves in front of a feisty Pepperdine crowd in Malibu for 110 minutes before heading to penalty kicks to decide the outcome. Freshman Nicole Molen gave the Women of Troy the early lead when she scored her first career goal for USC off a tremendous corner from junior Jamie Fink. USC held the lead until the 70th minute when Pepperdine evened things out with a goal off of a rebound from senior goalie Caroline Stanley's save.

Both squads had plenty of opportunities in the second half and the two overtime periods; however, neither team could capitalize ultimately leading to the most heartbreaking way to decide a game: penalty kicks. Stanley saved the first Pepperdine attempt, but the Waves responded immediately with a block of their own. The Trojans ultimately fell 4-2 in PKs ending their season in devastating fashion. 


"In regards to the game, we fought hard - that's a long game when you go into double overtime and then PKs, but the game is cruel," said the senior goalkeeper. "It really doesn't judge the talent of this squad. I'm not worried about them at all next year. In fact, I think they're only going to go up and rebuild this program into a dynasty." 

The Women of Troy finished the 2014 season with a trip to the NCAA tournament and a winning season for the first time since 2010 - a goal of the new coaching staff. After finishing 11th in the PAC-12 last year, no one really considered a trip to the NCAA tournament in 2014, especially with the implementation of a brand new coaching staff. 

"When we looked at the roster, we knew it had a lot of talent on it. The question was could we get them to believe in the vision, get them to believe in each other, get them to commit to being great teammates because we believe it starts with great chemistry," said the head coach. 

Well, the girls bought into McAlpine's system finishing fourth in the PAC-12 under the leadership of the reigning PAC-12 Coach of the Year. The Women of Troy set a school record for the best start - opening the season with six wins and two ties and prior to Saturday, they had 41 goals which surpasses the 31 goals for all of the 2013 season. 

Though the 2014 season just concluded on Saturday, McAlpine is already preparing for his sophomore season focusing on the growth potential of his young team. However, the Women of Troy do lose four seniors in goalie Caroline Stanley, forward Jessica Musmanno, midfielder Alex Quincey and defender Heather Davis.

"We ask them to get better every day. We ask them to just grind every day. Now that they've been with us for a year, there's some understanding of expectations," said McAlpine. "We're just going to continue to clean up details, clean up technically. We return a large group of women, so we expect big things."

Here are John McGillen's photos from the devastating first-round loss to Pepperdine...