Pasadena, CA—It might not look pretty but the USC Trojans finds a way to put a W in the left hand column.
Jack Plummer shredded the Trojans secondary and became the first Cal quarterback in six years to throw for over 400 yards in a game but the Golden Bears fell a little short in a 41-35 loss to No. 9 USC on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Plummer completed 35 of 49 passes for 406 yards, including touchdown passes to Monroe Young, Mavin Anderson, and Jeremiah Hunter.
“We didn’t play our best,” USC coach Lincoln Riley said. “Really on any of the sides.”
The Trojans is off to its first 8-1 start since 2008, and kept themselves in the race for the College Football Playoff by upping their record to 5-0 at the Coliseum under new coach Lincoln Riley.
The Golden Bears trailed 13-7 late in the second quarter when Plummer threw a deep pass that was picked off by Calen Bullock at the Cal 38-yard line and returned to the 50-yard line with 1:12 left in the first half. USC scored a touchdown quickly on three plays which gave the Trojans a 20-7 lead at the break.
The Trojans built a 27-7 lead early in the third quarter, but Cal’s offense got in sync, beginning with Young’s 2-yard scoring reception. It was the second straight game in which Young has caught a touchdown pass – the first two touchdowns of his career.
Cal cut it to 34-21 with 12:56 left on Anderson’s 47-yard TD catch and then recovered an onside kick. The Bears took advantage on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Plummer to Hunter to make it 34-27 with nine minutes remaining.
Then the Golden Bears got the ground game going with freshman running back Jaydn Ott rushed for his second touchdown of the game with 2:31 in the contest – followed by a successful 2-point conversion – it cut USC’s lead to 41-35. But USC’s was able to starve them out and seal the game.
The teams exchanged touchdowns, with Ott’s final score cutting the deficit once again back down to six points. But this time the Trojans recovered the Bears’ onside kick and were able to notch a first down and run out the clock.
Alex Grinch, USC’s defensive coordinator had this to say about his defensive unit play.
“You want to vomit some of the issues we have 10 weeks into the season,” Grinch said of his defense.
Young finished the game with career-highs of five catches and 66 yards.
“That second half was really frustrating for us,” safety Calen Bullock said. “We know we’re giving up too many yards right now defensively. Before the game, we said we were going to go out and dominate.”
Caleb Williams, once again put on his superman cape on and carried USC with a 360-yard, four-touchdown performance, the Trojans might have let this one slip away if wasn’t for his herculean performance.
The Trojans nearly allowed 500-plus yards for the third consecutive week, this time capping the total at a mere 469.
Trojans wide-outs Tahj Washington had (112 yards and a touchdown) and Michael Jackson III (115 yards and two touchdowns) came up big in key situations for USC.
“My experience with these things,” Riley said, “is you get to the end and no one remembers how. You either found a way to win them or didn’t. The reality is this team is 8-1 with everything in front of us.”
USC: Hosts Colorado on Friday for a 9:30 P.M. start time.
Cal will travel and play Oregon State for a 9 P.M. start time.