Los Angeles, CA – With USC’s college football playoff hopes on a lifeline, Caleb Williams and the Trojans fall just a bit short in their comeback attempt, 34-32 against Utah at home.
The Trojans dropped back-to-back games for the first time in the Lincoln Riley era, and with the second loss, it effectively takes them out of the playoff hunt as no two-loss team has ever made the CFP.
Riley was blunt about the team’s performance this season.
“Obviously it’s not how any of us scripted this, but you can’t script it, it’s college football,” he said.
After the game, no players were made available for post game questions.
Caleb Williams was electric to start the game. He was 6-6 for 68 yards in the first quarter as USC and Utah traded blow for blow.
The Utes offense relied on third string quarterback Bryson Barnes to run the offense. He started off by throwing a 53-yard touchdown to Sione Vaki on the third play of the game.
Despite the hot start from the Trojan offense, Utah reminded everybody why they are rated as a top ten defense in the country as they held USC to just three points in the second and third quarters of the game, with the points coming from a Denis Lynch field goal with time expiring in the third quarter.
Utah found their groove in the third quarter offensively after not scoring any points in the second quarter, as Bryson Barnes found Landen King for a six yard touchdown pass to cap off a nine play drive. Barnes also linked back up with Vaki for their second touchdown connection of the night.
Down 28-17 and with their backs against the wall and playoff hopes slipping away, it was all-American safety Calen Bullock to rescue the Trojans with an interception returned 30 yards for a touchdown on the Utes first drive of the fourth quarter.
However, the late game heroics wouldn’t be enough as Utah would tack on six points coming from two field goals which included the game winner. An 11 play, 69 yard drive led by Barnes as late in the drive, he picked up a huge 26-yard gain on 2nd and 15 to seal the Trojans fate. Cole Becker’s 38 yard field goal as time expired decimated the hearts of Trojan fans across the country.
Riley remains confident in his squad despite the loss.
“There is a real opportunity for this team, this team can do it,” Riley put firmly.
Next week USC travels to Cal to take on the Golden Bears in their final meeting as Pac-12 foes.
The Utes have a huge home date next week against Oregon as that will be a top 15 matchup in Salt Lake City.