USC was sitting pretty, up nine points with 2:43 to play, before everything went downhill. The Arizona State Sun Devils somehow, someway, in wacky Hail Mary fashion went down the field in 23 seconds to beat the Trojans, 38-34.
Jaelen Strong ripped the heart right out of the Coliseum on Saturday night, slipping right down the field (almost uncovered for goodness sake) sneaking right in front of Hayes Pullard for a game-winning 46-yard touchdown catch.
The game-winning hail mary TD catch by ASU's Jaelen Strong to beat USC 38-34. #ASUvsUSC pic.twitter.com/0BRPTqfO8c— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) October 5, 2014
Pullard admitted after the game that he'd never seeing something like that ever in his life and the Trojans were left stunned firing words of disappointment all over the football field. The Sun Devils stormed the Coliseum like kids in a candy shop, so excited to be handed an unlimited supply of treats.
That was disappointing, and I mean like a major stab in the side of the Trojans' spirit, seconds away from moving to 4-1 on the season. But that just wasn't the case, as USC looked incredibly confused.
"We will bounce back, we will fight back and we will come out and play a hard-fought game Saturday night," Sarkisian said following the loss.
But you know what really didn't make sense?
Why was USC so confused about what Arizona State wanted to do on that final play? With seven seconds left, the Trojans had to figure ASU wanted to push the ball downfield. The long 45-yard pass should've come as little surprise to anyone in the Coliseum.
Sure the Sun Devils could with a short route to try to set up a field goal, but you would rather get beat on a game-winning kick then get embarrassed on a final Hail Mary throw.
Mike Bercovici, who threw for 510 yards and five touchdown passes, had one heck of a fourth quarter to resurrect his Sun Devils from back-to-back losses.
What a game, what a finish, what a disorganized mess from defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox in the game's final moments. Limiting dual-threat freak D.J. Foster to just 13 yards rushing, the Trojans rush defense was on point. The only problem, the Sun Devils (4-1, 2-1) picked apart USC's pass defense for over 500 yards.
It was a shame USC couldn't win this game because their running game was strong throughout the night. Rushing for 220 yards total on 50 carries, the Trojans' second-half rushing attack was controlling the line of scrimmage. Outside of one sloppy possession to close the game, which will be over-analyzed forever, USC's offense was up for the challenge.
While Cody Kessler did not complete a touchdown, his impressive 8-yard run into the end zone was legendary. The Trojans were clicking on almost all cylinders, and then things just slipped right through their fingers (like a first half touchdown pass to Darreus Rogers).
The old adage "give credit where credit is due" model does not apply here because USC was out-coached, out-hustled and out-prepared for the moment, something that just can't happen five weeks into the season.
While no one in cardinal and gold was happy after the game, here's an ecstatic Jaelen Strong, nearly speechless, on the field after his game-winning touchdown catch: