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October 5, 2012

USC vs. Utah: Inside the numbers




Bouncing back from a horrific start, the Trojans overpowered Utah and earned a hard-fought road win on Thursday night. We look inside the numbers of the 38-28 victory for USC.

Zero for the 3rd

For the third time this season the USC offense was shutout in the third quarter.

The Trojans had an excellent opportunity to score late in the third period against Utah, but a penalty knocked the team back and lead to a missed field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Overall, USC has been outscored 36-14 in the third quarter this season and has never outscored an opponent. The Utah game was a "tie" with both teams being held off of the scoreboard, easily USC's best third quarter result of the season.

If halftime adjustments were not on the hot topic list before, expect them to be now.

Three for the road warriors

The Trojans have played three of their last four games on the road and two of those were outside of the Pacific time zone. USC's next contest is in Seattle, meaning the team will have a brutal stretch of four out of five away from the Coliseum.

How often do the other highly ranked teams hit the road? Well all of the teams in the top-5 in the latest AP Poll (Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, LSU and Georgia) have only gone on the road once this season.

No.7 Kansas State and No. 12 Ohio State have each played one road game while No. 8 West Virginia has yet to go on the road. The remaining teams have each played two road games including Notre Dame with one game in Ireland.

14 yellow flags for 100

Pac-12 officials took full advantage of their appearance on national television, throwing 27 total flags for 222 yards. There were more tossed flags than there were Matt Barkley completed passes.

The Trojans racked up 14 penalties for a football field worth of yardage while Utah had 13 for 122 yards.

Flag after flag after flag hurt the rhythm of the game, eliminated big plays for both teams and showed one of the major problems with Pac-12 football.

The referees continually play a prominent role in these games and how games are called differs greatly from week to week. Officiating is unlike what you see in places like the SEC, where referees typically stay out of the spotlight and let the players play.

But none of this is breaking news and Lane Kiffin knows the situation his team is in. It is on him to get his guys to play more disciplined and avoid double digit flags and triple digit penalty yardage.

One out of five ATS

Let's look at the game from a gambler's perspective. My uncle ended up texting me before the game asking if he should bet his house on USC. I told him the Trojans have not done a great job covering the spread this year and left it at that.

Not realizing he actually bet on Utah and took the 14 point spread, I got an text expressing his displeasure after the Nickell Robey pick-six.

In the final minutes with USC up by 17, his wager looked like a lost cause. But USC defensive tackle Antwaun Woods ran into the Utah punter and gave the Utes offense new life.

That final Utah touchdown drive against the reserve USC defense cut the deficit to 10 points, meaning the Trojans did not cover.

My uncle, who is on the East Coast and was sound asleep, woke up to a pleasant surprise.

With that failed cover, this season USC is just 1-4 against the spread.

Miscellaneous numbers

  • USC averaged four fourth down conversion attempts per game heading into Thursday's content. But the Trojans did not go for it on fourth down once against Utah.

  • Andre Heidari had missed just two field goals in his career before missing two more against the Utes.

  • The USC defense forced five three-and-outs against Utah but the final one was negated with the running into the punter penalty.

  • Silas Redd led the team with 86 yards rushing but he had the lowest individual rushing average (Redd averaged 4.5 yards a rush). Barkley averaged 5.0 yards a rush (1 rush), D.J. Morgan averaged 5.1, John Akiba averaged 6.0 yards a rush and Marqise Lee had one rush for 11 yards. Curtis McNeal had a rush for 7 yards that was negated because of a holding penalty.

  • USC's leading tackler Dion Bailey had just three tackles against Utah. Senior safety T.J. McDonald had 9 tackles against the Utes and he now leads the team with 38 overall tackles.

  • After converting on 5 of 11 on third down against Utah, USC is now 20 of 61 for the season on third down, or 33%.

    Ryan Abraham is the publisher of USCFootball.com. You can follow him on twitter at @InsideTroy.


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