The good vibes for No. 24 USC didn’t last all that long.
A week after blitzing Stanford behind an excellent performance from freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis in his first career start, the Trojans coughed up a second half lead on the road to BYU and lost 30-27 in overtime.
Playing on the road for the first time of the year, Slovis tossed three interceptions, including in overtime, to seal the victory for the Cougars.
The game was tied 17-17 at halftime, but USC went ahead 24-17 early in the fourth quarter on an excellent 30-yard touchdown catch by Michael Pittman. From there, BYU chipped away at the lead, first with a field goal and then with a 16-yard touchdown run by quarterback Zach Wilson.
Wilson is emerging as one of the country’s most exciting quarterbacks, and he showed it with a dazzling escape and downfield toss to Gunner Romney.
That play set up his touchdown run two plays later to give BYU a 27-24 lead with 5:41 to play. But USC didn’t wilt. Chase McGrath drilled a 52-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
BYU opened the extra frame with a 43-yard boot from Jake Oldroyd, giving USC a chance to win the game with a touchdown. Instead, Slovis forced one into traffic like he had on too many occasions throughout the afternoon. This one, which was tipped into the air, was intercepted by a diving Dayan Ghanwoloku to seal the win for the Cougars.
Clay Helton’s seat gets hotter
Clay Helton was already on shaky ground entering the 2019 season. And a loss like this won’t help. BYU is a solid team, but these are the games that USC has been losing too often under Helton’s watch.
The Trojans went 5-7 last year, the program’s first losing record since 2000, yet then-AD Lynn Swann decided to bring Helton back for the 2019 season. Now that Swann has been pushed out, it seems like Helton’s days are numbered.
Once a new athletic director comes in, he or she will likely want to hire their own coach. The fact that USC has three straight ranked opponents — No. 11 Utah, No. 23 Washington and No. 7 Notre Dame — coming up next on the schedule doesn’t help matters.
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