When the University of Southern California Trojans went down to Tucson to play the Arizona Wildcats, it was generally agreed this looked to be a shootout. Two high-powered offenses along with two excellent quarterbacks - it appeared on paper this contest would be exciting to watch (see related articles). The preliminary descriptions and accounts were accurate as 99 passes were thrown in the warm and dry desert air of southern Arizona this past Saturday afternoon.
A record-setting performance by an extraordinary wide receiver combined with many more offensive feats made for an amazing gridiron battle. The Wildcats had no answer for the Trojans Marqise Lee who broke many records with his 345 yards in receptions. But a second half rally by Arizona led by the gutsy exploits of Wildcat quarterback Matt Scott gave USC more than they could come back from with an impressive 39-36 victory.
In what looked like something out of a video game, Lee had an absolutely stunning achievement with 345 yards in receptions (Pac-12 record); and, it could be a Heisman type moment for the sophomore wide-out even with the loss. More amazingly, he had 255 yards in the first half alone! For the game, Lee had 16 catches and added a touchdown; plus, with a couple of big kickoff returns, the results tallied 469 in total yards of offense.
It was a devastating loss for the Trojans who were trying to stay in the national championship picture. A victory here would have allowed them to go back home to face the Oregon Ducks next week with a chance to move into the top five. Now the men of Troy will be left to try and salvage a South Division crown and a shot at the Pac-12 Championship which will give them a trip to the Rose Bowl. Not a bad alternative but still disappointing when compared with a national championship.
However, for the Arizona Wildcats program, this was a signature win for head coach Rich Rodriguez who is trying to rebuild the Wildcats into a league contender. And his veteran quarterback Scott, definitely helped the cause as he threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns with his favorite receiver Austin Hill having a record-type day with ten catches for 259 yards.
A dangerous and poorly handled situation occurred though in the fourth quarter when Scott was hit in the head at the end of a run and vomited right afterwards. Clearly Scott wasn't in the right condition to continue but the Arizona staff obviously either ignored the situation or somehow were oblivious. A timeout had to be called because of some confusion which in part seemed to be because of Scott. But even then, the team didn't call the trainers over and sent the senior quarterback back out, throwing a short touchdown pass four plays later.
There was a story that came out right after the game that suggested the Wildcats didn't follow NCAA policy and procedures (source - Forbes). Once the touchdown was scored and Scott was on the sidelines, trainers checked on him and evaluated that he shouldn't return to the game.
As far as the game was concerned for USC, too many mistakes and penalties plagued the team throughout the contest. In the first quarter, the Trojans moved up and down the field but weren't able to come up with any scores due in part to miscues. USC had 117 yards in penalties and five costly turnovers.
Barkley was once again good but inconsistent
Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley looked good at times and threw for almost 500 yards. It was his third 400 yard game tying Carson Palmer for most as a USC Trojan. But even the Heisman hopeful made mistakes and as I've mentioned throughout the year, his inconsistency has been consistent this season.
Whether depth is the issue or not, USC had plenty of chances to win the game but they fell short despite the heroics of Lee. Apparently, until the Trojans overcome the scholarship limitations (two more seasons), no matter the individual talent, a football team plays as a whole and USC has holes to fill - and championships will be tough to obtain. To be honest though, injuries haven't been a real problem but poor play has.
Next week, the Arizona Wildcats go on the road to play a good UCLA Bruin team while the USC Trojans go home to play the Oregon Ducks.
Sources - University of Arizona, University of Southern California, USA Today
Daryle lived in Los Angeles Ca. most of his life and has been a longtime fan of USC and the Pac-12, having closely followed the Trojans since he was just a youngster. Fight On!
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