USC Football Hosts Utah State To Conclude 3-Game Homestand|
Sept. 15, 2013
USC looks to keep the momentum going from a big bounceback win as it concludes a 3-game homestand by hosting defending Western Athletic Conference champion Utah State, a new member of the Mountain West Conference. It's just the fifth meeting between the schools, and the first one since 1989. The Trojans have never lost to the Aggies, winning by an average of 46 points. This is USC's second game of 2013 against a MWC team (the Hawaii opener was the other) and the Trojans have a near spotless record against current MWC foes. This is the 90th anniversary of USC's first season playing football in the historic Coliseum. USC rebounded from a difficult home loss to Washington State two weeks ago by putting together a complete performance on both sides of the ball while dominating Boston College this past Saturday. QB Cody Kessler, in his first game after being named the season starter, was near perfect in his passing accuracy, at one point completing 14 consecutive aerials, including a TD bomb to WR Marqise Lee, the 2012 unanimous All-American and Biletnikoff Award winner who is now third on USC's career pass catching list. TB Tre Madden had his third straight 100-yard rushing outing to open the 2013 campaign (the last Trojan to begin a season like that was Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen in 1981) and is 17th in the nation in rush yards per game. USC's defense, employing the 5-2 scheme of new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, continues its dramatic turnaround from a year ago. The Trojans are in the national Top 10 in rushing defense, sacks, total defense, interceptions, pass efficiency defense, tackles for loss and scoring defense thanks to the efforts of such defenders as S Dion Bailey,OLBs Devon Kennard and Morgan Breslin, DEs Leonard Williams and George Uko, LB Hayes Pullard and S-CB Josh Shaw. New Utah State head coach Matt Wells, a one-time Aggie QB and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, has his team off to a 2-1 start, including a 64-point home win last Saturday over Weber State. The Aggies are coming off a school-record 11 wins last year and a No. 16 final ranking. USU is eighth nationally in scoring offense, ninth in passing efficiency and 12th in total offense behind the play of dual-threat QB Chuckie Keeton, who is highly ranked in the national stats for total offense, passing efficiency and passing yardage. He is in the school Top 10 in career completion percentage, TD passes, completions, passing yards and total offense. Last fall, he won All-WAC first team acclaim while setting USU season marks for TD passes, passing yards, total offense, completion percentage and completions. C Tyler Larsen and OG Eric Schultz, both 2012 All-WAC first team linemen, provide protection. Key pass catchers are WRs Bruce Natson and Travis Van Leeuwen and RB Joe Hill. The Aggie defense, 13th nationally in total defense, is headed by 2012 All-WAC first team LBs Jake Doughty and LB Kyler Fackrell. The game will be shown live on either ABC or ESPN2, depending on what region viewers are watching. As part of USC's 125th anniversary of athletics celebration (dating to the first football game in 1888), volleyball and gymnastics alumni will be honored on the field during the game. The top-ranked USC women's volleyball team opens its home schedule this week and the Women of Troy soccer team also will be in home action this weekend.