LOS ANGELES—The #3 Utah Utes (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) fell to the USC Trojans (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) in the Los Angeles Coliseum, 42-24 on Saturday night.
USC freshman linebacker Cameron Smith intercepted Utah quarterback Travis Wilson over the middle of the field three times, returning the ball 122 yards and one touchdown. The Trojans held running back Devontae Booker to 62 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Wilson finished completing 24 of 36 passes for 254 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions, including a interception on a Hail Mary pass in the end zone with 2 seconds left in the game. A bright spot for the Utes was in freshman wide receiver Britain Covey, who finished with 129 receiving yards on 7 receptions, scoring two touchdowns.
A turning point came when Utah had stopped the Trojans on 3rd and 14 with 8:56 left in the 3rd quarter, but a hands-to-the-face penalty by Utah defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu gave the Trojans a first down. The Trojans went on to score a touchdown on 4th down via a Cody Kessler quarterback sneak to put USC’s lead up to 35-17.
The USC defense held Utah’s offense at bay for large portions of the game. 9 of Utah’s 13 drives ended either in a punt or a turnover.
On the opposite end, Cody Kessler found a rhythm with wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The two met up for 8 receptions, 143 yards, and a touchdown. USC continuously attacked the Utes with outside screen passes. Good blocking and speed allowed Smith-Schuster and fellow receiver Adoreé Jackson to continuously pound the sideline and keep USC’s offense moving. Kessler finished with 264 yards passing, going 21-for-28 with passing and rushing touchdowns.
Trojan linebackers Ronald Jones II and Justin Davis finished with 73 yards on 15 carries and 66 yards on 19 carries, respectively.
Despite the loss, Utah remains alone at first place atop the Pac-12 South division. The Utes hold a 1-game lead in the loss column over all other teams in the South.
Utah faces the Oregon State Beavers next Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
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