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  • Early letdowns lead to early shakeups, including firing of LSU's Les Miles

    Early letdowns lead to early shakeups, including firing of LSU's Les Miles

    In the dazed, chaotic moments after his Louisiana State team lost to Auburn on the last play of the game, Coach Les Miles did his best to stay optimistic. Asked about the future, he answered: “Take it one game at a time and try to work hard.” But when the Associated Press poll came out on Sunday,...

  • Running back rotation has vexed USC

    Running back rotation has vexed USC

    Ronald Jones II isn’t sure what it is. “Could be the dreads,” said the closed-cropped Jones ruefully, as he stood outside USC’s locker room on Friday night in Utah. All Jones knows is that he can’t seem to find open space. Last season, when the then-dreadlocked Jones broke USC's freshman rushing...

  • AD Lynn Swann has 'given me nothing but support,' Clay Helton says

    AD Lynn Swann has 'given me nothing but support,' Clay Helton says

    After each USC football game, Coach Clay Helton meets with Athletic Director Lynn Swann. Usually, Helton said, they go over what worked well and what didn’t in the previous day’s game. Sometimes, Swann offers advice. Saturday’s meeting could have been more tense than usual. Utah’s crushing comeback...

  • Injuries give former Trojans QB Cody Kessler his big break in Cleveland

    Injuries give former Trojans QB Cody Kessler his big break in Cleveland

    Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler passed for a touchdown in an exhibition opener against Green Bay, but he didn’t bother to keep the ball as a memento — unwittingly denying his dad a prized keepsake for his mantel. “He’s not about records and trying to impress people,” Don Kessler said...

  • It's heartbreak in Salt Lake when USC falls in final minute to Utah

    It's heartbreak in Salt Lake when USC falls in final minute to Utah

    Over the crackling of two head coaches’ headsets, two decisions began to take form late Friday evening. In the fourth quarter, USC Coach Clay Helton faced a fourth down. A drive later, Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham faced a fourth down. The choices each made would spring No. 24 Utah to a 31-27 comeback...

  • Trojans were the better team but still lost

    Trojans were the better team but still lost

    The sign at the entrance of Mount Olivet Cemetery is old and rusty. A significant percentage of the statues there are discolored. The grounds are protected by only a weak chain-link fence. On the other side of the road from this historic graveyard, USC buried what remained of its respectability....

  • USC's self-described 'lighter fluid,' Adoree' Jackson, ignites with a big kick return

    USC's self-described 'lighter fluid,' Adoree' Jackson, ignites with a big kick return

    The kick got Adoree’ Jackson in between, about three or four yards deep into the end zone, a coin toss to run out or take a knee. Jackson caught the ball at the base of the “A” in “UTAH” and did not hesitate. He bounded forward, bellied toward a crease at the eight-yard line, shrugged off an arm...

  • UCLA vs. Stanford: How they match up

    UCLA vs. Stanford: How they match up

    No. 7 Stanford (2-0 overall, 1-0 Pac-12) at UCLA (2-1, 0-0) at the Rose Bowl. TV: Channel 7, 5 p.m. Times staff writer Ben Bolch analyzes today’s game: Most intriguing story line: Was it worth it? It’s time to find out whether UCLA’s off-season makeover, intended to beat the likes of Stanford,...

  • Letters: No touchdowns, but Rams make some noise

    Letters: No touchdowns, but Rams make some noise

    Congratulations to Jeff Fisher for the win Sunday, putting him at .500 this season. Unfortunately, that’s his career average and the best we can expect. He’s had only six winning seasons in 21 years as a head coach, the last with Tennessee in 2008. Stan Kroenke must know that in Southern California,...

  • UCLA's rushing game hasn't exactly been running wild, and Mora vows it will improve

    UCLA's rushing game hasn't exactly been running wild, and Mora vows it will improve

    UCLA redesigned its offense in part so that its ballcarriers could thrive even in obvious running situations. At this rate, they might settle for selective success. The Bruins gained a season-low 50 yards rushing against Brigham Young last week, making it a failed test run for their Pac-12 Conference...

  • USC sputters to Utah as it tries to solve its combustion problem

    USC sputters to Utah as it tries to solve its combustion problem

    They are the plays that will live, for USC, in infamy — or at least until the defense can correct itself. A broken wheel route. A safety and a cornerback both blitzing. An unoccupied gap against Christian McCaffrey. A failure to play through the whistle. Heading into a pivotal Pac-12 Conference...

  • After living in his car, Stevie Tu'ikolovatu has made USC his home

    After living in his car, Stevie Tu'ikolovatu has made USC his home

    The sun was peeking over the Santa Monica Mountains, shining through the double-tinted windows. Out the other window, the Pacific Ocean sparkled. And in the back of his 2004 Chevrolet Suburban, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu was sound asleep when there came a rapping on his window. Private security guards,...

  • USC vs. Utah: How they match up

    USC vs. Utah: How they match up

    USC (1-2) vs. No. 24 Utah (3-0), at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City. TV: FS1, 6 p.m. Most intriguing story line: USC’s schedule has been brutal, and its record is indicative. Clay Helton has a record of 1-4 since becoming full-time head coach, his lone win against Utah State. If Helton and...

  • Adoree' Jackson has taken a casual approach to a possible return to offense

    Adoree' Jackson has taken a casual approach to a possible return to offense

    Adoree’ Jackson and Clay Helton lingered on the field after USC’s practice on Wednesday. Helton lined up where the quarterback typically would. Jackson bounced around, settling into formation on different parts of the field. They moved around the field for several minutes before Jackson finally...

  • Clay Helton praises USC's resolve, defends decision to punt against Stanford

    Clay Helton praises USC's resolve, defends decision to punt against Stanford

    During halftime of USC’s loss to Stanford on Saturday, Coach Clay Helton said, the coaching staff challenged the team. The staff offered its adjustments, a plan for how it would defeat Stanford. Then, Helton said, the team took the field and mounted an inspired touchdown drive to start the half....

  • So far it's a bad deal for USC after a 27-10 loss to Stanford

    So far it's a bad deal for USC after a 27-10 loss to Stanford

    It was an infamous question that once went both ways in this rivalry, a question exchanged at midfield by coaching greats Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh, a question that was actually a statement. “What’s your deal?” Seven years later, on the second dull and dispiriting Saturday in three weeks for...

  • USC can't keep pace with Christian McCaffrey and Stanford in 27-10 loss

    USC can't keep pace with Christian McCaffrey and Stanford in 27-10 loss

    Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey always seemed to be one cut away from tearing a huge chunk out of USC’s defense Saturday evening. There were exceptions: On some plays, he actually did tear huge chunks out of USC’s defense. There was a long touchdown reception when he was inexplicably uncovered....

  • USC's Sam Darnold gets fewer opportunities against Stanford

    USC's Sam Darnold gets fewer opportunities against Stanford

    Sam Darnold jogged out to the field during the fourth quarter of USC’s game against Stanford on Saturday. USC had just attempted a fourth-down try, in the red zone. Had it been successful, Darnold was ready to assume his role as the red-zone quarterback. It came up short. Darnold unclipped his...

  • Players behaving badly: Can USC stay disciplined long enough to defeat Stanford?

    Players behaving badly: Can USC stay disciplined long enough to defeat Stanford?

    JuJu Smith-Schuster was sitting just outside USC’s practice field this week when he recalled an aphorism that, he said, USC’s coaching staff has been drilling into the team. “Our coaches told us that when emotions go high, intelligence goes down,” Smith-Schuster said. USC is hoping that message...

  • Pete Carroll likely to receive a warm welcome at Coliseum despite what happened at USC when he coached there

    Pete Carroll likely to receive a warm welcome at Coliseum despite what happened at USC when he coached there

    Listening to Pete Carroll talk this week about the controversial timing of his departure from USC was similar to reading how John Wooden claimed to have known nothing about what Sam Gilbert did to help the UCLA basketball program. “Had I known what was going on and what was going to come around,...

  • USC vs. Stanford: How the Trojans and Cardinal match up

    USC vs. Stanford: How the Trojans and Cardinal match up

    USC (1-1) vs. No. 7 Stanford (1-0), at Stanford Stadium. TV: Channel 7, 5 p.m. Most intriguing story line: This, more than USC’s opener against Alabama or an easy recovery against Utah State, is likely to provide the best barometer of Coach Clay Helton’s early efforts. Stanford has been the class...

  • USC hopes one day soon it might look something like Stanford

    USC hopes one day soon it might look something like Stanford

    In his news conference following a blowout win on Saturday, USC Coach Clay Helton reserved some of his most glowing praise for the very end of the session. He complimented a team that physically punished its opponents, a team that controlled the clock and pounded the ball. It was a team that was...

  • Pete Carroll savors a return to the scene of his USC glory when Seahawks face Rams

    Pete Carroll savors a return to the scene of his USC glory when Seahawks face Rams

    The game is undeniably a homecoming — but for whom? For the Rams, Sunday’s home opener against the Seattle Seahawks will be their first regular-season game at the Coliseum since 1979. But for Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll, the game marks his return to the stadium where he forged his USC legacy, staking...

  • Masina, Hill barred from USC football team activities

    Masina, Hill barred from USC football team activities

    Suspended USC linebacker Osa Masina learned Friday that he had three days to vacate his campus residence, according to his attorney, Greg Skordas. USC has placed Masina on “interim suspension pending administrative review of a Title IX investigation,” Skordas said. The suspension means he is barred...

  • After two routs leave 1-1 USC's potential murky, Stanford should provide an answer

    After two routs leave 1-1 USC's potential murky, Stanford should provide an answer

    Were he a professor, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu might be one that  students try to avoid. As a grader, he is blunt, sometimes harsh. After his first game at USC drew rave reviews from outsiders, the graduate transfer defensive tackle said he would give himself a D. A 45-7 rout of Utah State on Saturday,...

  • Darreus Rogers proves the Trojans have another weapon on offense

    Darreus Rogers proves the Trojans have another weapon on offense

    Just as Max Browne’s pass slipped through Darreus Rogers’ hands in the first quarter, the senior wide receiver felt his margin for error shrink.  “I tried to make a statement and let them know, don’t go away from me,” Rogers said half an hour after the most productive day of his career. “Then I...

  • USC easily handles Utah State, but lineman Chuma Edoga flies off the handle, making contact with official

    USC easily handles Utah State, but lineman Chuma Edoga flies off the handle, making contact with official

    Shame had turned to anger, and anger had calcified into resolve by USC’s second game, on Saturday. The Trojans had had enough: an embarrassing season-opening loss to Alabama and a parade of off-the-field incidents, from the disturbing to the banal. They hoped their first home game, against Utah...

  • It's a first and foremost for USC quarterback Max Browne

    It's a first and foremost for USC quarterback Max Browne

    Now, this was the opener Max Browne dreamed of playing, not that curb-stomping USC absorbed from Alabama a week earlier. Browne made countless visits to the Coliseum over the last three years. Never did it look as it did Saturday, when he was on the field and under center for the majority of USC’s...

  • USC report: Sam Darnold gets plenty of chances in backup role

    USC report: Sam Darnold gets plenty of chances in backup role

    At the start of each USC offensive drive, Sam Darnold has built a routine. He limbers up on the sideline, as if he is preparing to enter the game, even though he is the backup quarterback. His first two games have provided a reason to be ready. He has played much more than a typical backup. The...

  • USC vs. Utah State: How the Trojans and Aggies match up

    USC vs. Utah State: How the Trojans and Aggies match up

    USC (0-1) vs. Utah State (1-0), at the Coliseum. TV: Pac-12 Networks, 11 a.m. Most intriguing story line: Bring the coffee and donuts. For the first time since at least the 1950s, USC is starting a home game at 11 a.m. USC hopes this game can be a wake-up call for the season. The Aggies are sandwiched...

  • As USC tries to stabilize against Utah State, the energy — and the tension — ratchet up

    As USC tries to stabilize against Utah State, the energy — and the tension — ratchet up

    The entire USC defense streamed onto the field at the end of Wednesday’s practice, the Trojans’ last heavy-contact session before they attempt to stabilize their season against Utah State on Saturday. For roughly 15 minutes, the defense had been working itself into a lather. After each pass breakup...

  • Letters: It has to get better for Trojans and Bruins, right?

    For all you Trojans football fans hoping for a return to the glory days, reality has likely now set in. You are just another chump team on the bus ride to mediocrity. Whereas, we Bruins fans have no delusions — we have been on that bus for a long time. Welcome aboard. Charlie Pankow Moorpark  :...

  • With his USC buyout apparently complete, Lane Kiffin has his salary doubled at Alabama

    Now that USC appears to be done paying a multimillion-dollar buyout to Lane Kiffin, the former coach is getting a raise from his current team. Alabama’s trustees approved a deal Friday that will pay the offensive coordinator $1.4 million through February, doubling his salary from last season. “It...

  • Podcast | USC Overtime: Who is Clay Helton? JuJu Smith-Schuster fights at practice and a Utah State preview

    Welcome to the second episode of “USC Overtime” with Lindsey Thiry and Zach Helfand. This week’s topics include: a USC-Alabama game review Who is Clay Helton? JuJu Smith-Schuster fights at practice a Utah State preview Steve Sarkisian hired at Alabama  lindsey.thiry@latimes.com Follow Lindsey Thiry...

  • Knee injury knocks out USC center Toa Lobendahn for the season

    Toa Lobendahn realized his knee felt strange only after Saturday’s game against Alabama. On the second series of the game, during a fourth-down try, an Alabama player rolled up behind his right knee, buckling it awkwardly. But Lobendahn, USC’s starting center, didn’t miss a play. By Thursday, the...

  • College football TV guide for the weekend

    FRIDAY 4:30 p.m.: Maryland at Florida International, CBS Sports Network (CBSSN). 5 p.m.: Louisville at Syracuse, ESPN2. SATURDAY Morning Utah State (1-0) at USC (0-1), 11 a.m., Pac-12 Networks This game isn’t a gimme for USC, which is reeling from a 52-6 thumping by top-ranked Alabama. It’s a must...

  • Full UCLA basketball schedule released

    UCLA will play USC on Jan. 25 at the Galen Center and on Feb. 18 at Pauley Pavilion as part of the Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball schedule released Thursday. The Trojans won three consecutive meetings between the teams last season for the first time since 1942. The Bruins will play defending...

  • Max Browne is a bright spot in an ugly first week for USC

    Max Browne, who won USC’s quarterback competition as the traditional pocket passer to Sam Darnold’s more mobile style, dropped back to pass early in Saturday’s game against Alabama, facing a third and long. He waited, but nobody was open. He waited more. Then, he did something surprising. He took...

  • USC's anger boils over, as JuJu Smith-Schuster fights, then briefly leaves field

    The first punch cut through the air unobstructed, so JuJu Smith-Schuster reared back and launched another. USC had been stewing since the start of Tuesday’s practice. Much of the energy was productive. But now it was convulsing into hostility. A gratuitous celebration after a pass breakup had angered...

  • Clay Helton talks about USC's football deficiencies

    The last time USC experienced a loss worse than Saturday’s 52-6 thrashing by Alabama was in 1966. Notre Dame beat John McKay’s Trojans, 51-0. He told the players in the locker room to "take a shower, if you need one." McKay was also widely quoted vowing that “Notre Dame will never beat us again.”...

  • USC players don pads, helmets, GPS technology to sharpen their game

    Danny van Dijk couldn’t afford to waste anyone’s time. USC was preparing to face Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl in 2014 and he was just an unpaid intern on the strength and conditioning staff. But 15 wearable GPS devices, given to the program to test, were collecting dust.  Van Dijk was sure he could...

  • Alabama hires Steve Sarkisian as an offensive analyst

    Former USC football Coach Steve Sarkisian — still locked in a legal battle with the school over his 2015 firing — will join Alabama’s staff as an analyst, the team announced Monday. The position allows Sarkisian to watch film of games and practices and offer advice. Because of NCAA limits on staff...

  • For groin stomp, USC's Jabari Ruffin must write apology letter, sit out a half

    USC linebacker Jabari Ruffin was last seen being escorted off the field after being ejected from Saturday’s game against Alabama. He’d stomped on the groin of a downed Alabama player, Minkah Fitzpatrick. In order to play again, he’ll have to issue an apology. Coach Clay Helton announced during...

  • Trojans aren't ready for Crimson Tide, prime time or much of anything

    It was the first game of the season, the most celebrated game in several seasons, and the USC football team was not ready. How could they not be ready? It was heralded as the beginning of a new era, the start of a new chapter, and USC acted like it was still on stinking probation. How could a traditional...

  • Alabama overpowers USC early and then often in 52-6 rout

    USC’s players sat slumped on the bench. One threw his head back and kept it there, as if in a daze. Some gazed, transfixed, at AT&T Stadium’s humongous Jumbotron. It was the third quarter. It was all but the end of the game for USC in a 52-6 shellacking by Alabama. At the moment, the video board...

  • For USC's Tee Martin, it didn’t play out as planned against Alabama

    Tee Martin settled into a booth high above the field at AT&T Stadium before USC’s game against Alabama on Saturday,with a play sheet he said he didn’t need. Martin was calling his first game as USC’s offensive coordinator. He said he’d memorized the play sheet long ago. As an assistant coach working...

  • USC vs. Alabama: How the Trojans and Crimson Tide match up

    USC vs. ALABAMA, at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas. TV: KABC (Channel 7) 5 p.m. Most intriguing storyline: The visor returns, plopped atop the head of Lane Kiffin, who has picked himself off the tarmac to win a national championship as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. After being fired by USC,...

  • Second USC linebacker named in sexual assault investigation

    A 19-year-old woman told Los Angeles Police Department investigators that USC football players Osa Masina and Don Hill sexually assaulted her in July at an off-campus apartment when she was so intoxicated that she could barely move or speak, according to a search warrant in the case. The woman...

  • Max Browne begins his starting career in fitting fashion: amid turmoil

    Earlier this week, as Max Browne stood in his final media scrum before USC’s game against Alabama on Saturday, a reporter asked about allegations of sexual assault made against a teammate. Browne shook his head. "Yeah, it's tough,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we've had some distractions...

  • USC's Don Hill, named a suspect in sexual assault, sent home by USC

    USC linebacker Don Hill was sent home from Texas on Friday “for a violation of team rules,” a USC spokesman said. In a Los Angeles Police Department search warrant obtained by The Times, a woman accused Hill of engaging in sexual intercourse with her, without her consent, while she was intoxicated. ...

  • Podcast | USC Overtime: USC-Alabama in Texas, Lane Kiffin and the Osa Masina situation

    Welcome to the first edition of the “USC Overtime” podcast with Lindsey Thiry and Zach Helfand. This week’s topics include: Previewing the USC-Alabama game in Texas Lane Kiffin vs. USC A look at the Trojans position groups The Osa Masina situation    lindsey.thiry@latimes.com Follow Lindsey Thiry...

  • Football: Brad Kaaya could have been a Trojan

    In an intriguing first-person story from former Chaminade quarterback Brad Kaaya of the Miami Hurricanes, Kaaya discusses how he ended up in Miami. Writing in the Players' Tribune, Kaaya said he was a USC fan growing up. He had only two scholarship offers going into his senior year: San Diego State...

  • Report accuses USC's Osa Masina of two rapes

    Osa Masina, suspended by the USC football team while under investigation by police in Utah for an alleged sexual assault in July, is also being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department for allegedly raping the same woman 12 days earlier, according to a published report. The July 14 incident...

  • It's going to be awkward when USC runs into its ex, Lane Kiffin, and Alabama

    Believe what you want, listen to everyone make nice, trust that it’s going to be strictly a contest of helmets and pads and two historic football teams, but understand one very human truth. Lane Kiffin began trolling USC about Saturday’s game with Alabama nearly eight months ago. You remember it...

  • Separated from the myths, Sam Cunningham's story remains an inspiration

    Several years after Sam “Bam” Cunningham helped an integrated USC football team whup an all-white Alabama team in 1970, Cunningham traveled to Montgomery, Ala., for a golf tournament. The locals wanted to talk about the game. “I remember when you scored 250 yards and scored four touchdowns!” they...

  • Let the cheering begin. Football, the great American blast time, is finally back.

    I won’t stand for too much enthusiasm. Seems such a waste of energy. But then football season rolls around again, and my pulse quickens. Love is like that. For a moment, we can forget that life itself is often third and long … that the mortgage is due, that the college fund is piddling, or that...

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