An Instant Classic.
A Game for the Ages.
A Trojan Victory Heard ‘Round the World.
This one will last in the memory for USC Trojan fans for a long, long time.
USC upset the No. 18-ranked Washington State Cougars in the Pac-12 opener in what was immediately dubbed an Instant Classic, winning it in overtime, 47-44.
The Trojans utilized an incredibly strong performance from their true-freshman signal-caller Kedon Slovis, who finished the game with 456 yards through the air and five scores. He did throw three interceptions including one that was returned for a touchdown but he rallied his receiving corps when he needed to and responded in a big fashion with a dramatic overtime display of passing.
Slovis and the USC offense started out white hot, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions, but so did the Cougars. Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon and Slovis each threw two first-quarter touchdowns as the game went back and forth from the start.
We’ve got points coming in bunches — each QB has thrown 2 first-quarter touchdowns and it’s all tied up at 14-14 at the end of one.— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) March 29, 2020
Slovis and Gordon would subsequently finish the first half with 250 and 249 passing yards, respectively, as they each dominated through the air in the opening half.
The second half, however, started off a bit rocky for USC and Slovis as he threw two interceptions on the Trojans’ first two drives of the third quarter. The second one was returned for a touchdown as Washington State opened up their first lead of the game, 27-24 with just over two minutes remaining in the third.
After no sight of sophomore QB J.T. Daniels warming up on the sidelines, Slovis took the field after two errant throws and erased all doubt and memory of the bad throws.
He hit 4-of-4 attempts on the next drive for 75 yards and a touchdown as USC jumped back into the lead at the end of the third quarter, 31-27.
The Cougars would strike right back on the opening possession of the fourth quarter and despite their best efforts on their next drive, USC mustered just a field goal to tie the game at 34 points apiece with three minutes remaining.
The USC defense once again held on the back of two sacks on Washington State’s next drive and received the ball back, still tied at 34-34, with 2:32 left on the clock. While all they needed was a field goal to win it, WR Michael Pittman was left wide open on the drive’s second play and USC scored with ease, taking a 41-34 lead with 1:32 left on the clock.
A play later and Michael Pittman scores! USC leads 41-34!!! 1:32 left.— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) March 29, 2020
But did the Trojans leave too much time on the clock?
There was too much time left on the clock, however, as Washington State scored in three plays to knot the game back at 41-41 with just :22 left on the clock. A one-handed grab and an interception on a final heave later, and the two teams headed to overtime, tied at 41.
USC’s defense once again saved the day on a 3rd & 4 pass, stopping Borghi short of the line to gain and holding the Cougars to a field goal in the opening stanza of the overtime period. Washington State’s defense needed to stop USC in the second-half of the overtime to win or at least hold them to a field goal to extend the game.
Slovis and Co. had other ideas.
Three plays in, Slovis found WR Tyler Vaughns on a hitch route in the end zone for the game-winning score as the USC-faithful in attendance erupted from the stands.
Oh my!! Tyler Vaughns TD!!— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) March 29, 2020
Game over! Game over!
Slovis to Vaughns wins it! pic.twitter.com/GPeFMLf8aW
Vaughns finished with the game’s most important play, hauling in his fourth reception and only touchdown of the game on the final play. He grabbed four receptions for 97 yards as every reception moved the chains for a first down or touchdown.
Pittman led all receivers with nine receptions for 159 yards and two scores as he secured four first-down catches as well.
As tough as it is to believe, the USC defense is the unsung hero of the game, even after allowing 470 yards through the air. They came through with multiple clutch plays and some big-time momentum-killing sacks of Gordon. Despite the allowing of 44 points, the defense graded out very well according to head coach Clay Helton.
Stopping the Air Raid offense is never an easy task, just ask the Washington State defense.
The opening of Pac-12 play got off to an incredible start and if that’s the way the season is going to shape up this year, fans are all in for a real treat.
Until we see more Pac-12 play, relish in the victory USC fans. Relish in that 2-0 feeling.
And start buying your Kedon Slovis for Heisman odds while you can still get them cheap.
Receiving stats (USC):
Receiving stats (Washington State):
Defensive stats (USC):
Offensive Player of the Game:
Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC
Defensive Player of the Game:
Jay Tufele, DI, USC
Unsung Hero of the Game:
NCAA Football 14 WTF moment:
On one of Slovis’ interception, the CPU allowed Amon-Ra St. Brown to run a completely different route than called. Chalk it up to QB-WR Miscommunication, I guess.
Reminder, this is a fictional take on our recreation of the 2019 NCAA football season using last year’s updated rosters and playing the games in NCAA Football 14 on a Playstation3. For more information, check out our intro story.
Interested in us streaming these games live? Drop a mention in the comments and we’ll set up a Twitch stream this week!