The Washington State Cougars had no answer for Nelson Agholor on a damp, chilly and particularly foggy Saturday afternoon in Pullman. Agholor had nine catches for 220 yards. He scored once through the air and added a 65-yard punt return touchdown to lead the USC Trojans to a 44-17 victory.
Agholor got the scoring started with the punt return. He caught the ball outside the hashes on the right side of the field and took off to the left. Agholor ran all the way across the field before cutting up and getting some good blocks along the way. The Trojans pushed their first half lead out to 24-0 thanks to a pair of 22-yard touchdown catches from JuJu Smith and an Andre Heidari 37-yard field goal. It was Heidari's first field goal attempt since the Arizona State game nearly a month ago.
Washington State got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter on a 9-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Luke Falk to Robert Lewis, but more disconcerting for USC was All-American Su'a Cravens collapsing to the turf grabbing his right knee. Cravens wasn't near the play and he didn't make contact with anyone else. In the second half, it was revealed during the television broadcast that Cravens had sprained his right knee, but further tests will need to be conducted to determine the full extent of the injury.
Falk was in the game because the Cougars also sustained a huge injury when senior quarterback Connor Halliday had to be carted off the field after a first quarter completion. Halliday got twisted up as Leonard Williams pulled him down following Halliday's pass. Halliday left the field with an air cast on his right leg. Falk played well in relief. He finished with 370 yards passing on 57 pass attempts. He threw two touchdowns and one interception that came on a jumpball throw on the final play of the first half.
The USC offense struggled to get going early in the second half. Washington State worked the ball down the field and kicked a 27-yard field goal to trim the Trojans' lead to two scores at 24-10. But the Trojans quickly responded thanks to Agholor once again. Cody Kessler faked a handoff, moved to his right and delivered a deep bomb over the top for an 87-yard touchdown to Nelson Agholor.
Not to be outdone, JuJu Smith got the Trojans in the end zone shortly after on a seven-yard touchdown grab, giving him three touchdowns -- tying the school record for a freshman. Smith's touchdown was, of course, set up by Agholor though. On the play before Smith's score, Agholor caught a 21-yard pass to convert on fourth-and-7. It was Nelson Agholor's ninth and final grab of the game.
Smith ended the game with six catches for 74 yards. Redshirt junior George Farmer returned from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss the last two games and finished with a career-high 61 yards on three receptions.
USC added one more score in the fourth quarter when Steven Mitchell caught Cody Kessler's fifth touchdown pass. Mitchell scored from five yards out one play after catching a 23-yard pass. Kessler finished with a career-high 400 yards on 21-of-32 passing.
Even though USC struggled to run the ball in the first three quarters, Buck Allen still finished with 114 yards rushing thanks to 62 yards in the final 15 minutes. Allen has now rushed for 100+ yards in the last six games -- the longest streak at USC since Marcus Allen's Heisman season in 1981. The talented Florida running back is the only player in the country with 100+ yards from scrimmage in every game this season.
USC is off next weekend before hosting Cal on Thursday, November 13.