Using everything but scotch tape and rubber bands to hold its injury-depleted team together, the USC defense rose up and smothered Utah in a 19-3 win Saturday.
The Trojans got big plays from all over the field in holding the Utes to 201 yards of total offense, 49 of which came on the Utah's final drive with the game already decided. USC racked up nine tackles for loss with six sacks and forced four takeaways that resulted in 16 points.
Defensive end Leonard Williams was relentless again, with eight tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss (1.5 sacks), and linebacker/defensive lineman J.R. Tavai had a team-high 11 tackles with two sacks. Their quickness overwhelmed a large and experienced Utah offensive line.
Sophomore wide receiver Nelson Agholor had the only touchdown of the afternoon, turning a corner route up the sideline and somersaulting into the end zone on a 30-yard catch. Agholor had not practiced all week and was not expected to play, but he finished with six receptions for 97 yards to bolster an offense that did not have an available scholarship tight end and suited up six total scholarship players at running back and receiver.
With star Marqise Lee expected back by the Nov. 9 game at California, reinforcements are on the way. But with a defense playing this well, USC might not need all that much from the other side of the ball to secure bowl eligibility, which would be an impressive feat given everything the program has gone through this season.