LAS VEGAS -- Cody Kessler passed for a career-high 344 yards and a Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl record four touchdowns as USC jumped out to a 35-6 halftime lead en route to 45-20 victory over Fresno State on Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Trojans (10-4), playing for their third head coach of the season -- interim head coach Clay Helton -- did it with an aggressive, blitzing defense that had Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr on his heels for much of the game. Carr, the two-time Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year who entered the game leading the FBS in total offense and passing yards, finished 29-of-54 for 217 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Kessler, who completed 22-of-30 passes, had touchdown passes of 10 and 40 yards to Marqise Lee, and 40 and 17 yards to Nelson Agholor, all in the first the first half. That broke the previous Las Vegas Bowl mark of three touchdown passes held by four players, most recently Max Hall of BYU in 2009 against Oregon State. Javorius Allen rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns and Andre Heidari added a 39-yard field goal for the Trojans. Fresno State (11-2), which entered the game leading the FBS in passing yards per game with an average of 409.8, and was third in total offense at 570.6, finished with only 254 total yards and 217 yards passing. NOTES: USC finished with the 25th 10-win season in school history, which doesn't include a 12-win campaign in 2005 that was later vacated because of an NCAA penalty. ... QB Derek Carr of Fresno State became the fourth quarterback in FBS history to pass for both 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season when he connected with Davante Adams for a 23-yarder early in the third quarter. It was Adams' 24th touchdown reception of the season, tops in the FBS. ... Fresno State P Garret Swanson had one of the few Bulldog highlights in the first half when he unloaded a Las Vegas Bowl record 69-yard punt. ... Fresno State didn't try a running play until early in the second quarter and finished with only 37 yards on six rushes. ... DE George Uko of USC was ejected for a personal foul early in the third quarter. ... The crowd of 42,178 was the second largest in Sam Boyd Stadium history and also the second largest in Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl history, topped only by the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl, when BYU defeated Oregon, 38-6, in front of 44,615 fans. That game included additional temporary stands in the north end zone.
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