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The Sports Report: Reports of the demise of USC football may have been premature

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Kedon Slovis
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

USC FOOTBALL

Freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis threw confidently down field, dropping deep bombs between defensive backs and hitting receivers on back-shoulder passes along the sideline. He stood strong in the pocket, unfazed by pressure.

As USC rolled past Stanford, 45-20, it was Slovis in the driver’s seat. He stood strong in the pocket, unfazed by pressure, completing 28 of 33 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns.

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Even as USC’s defense threatened to break, Slovis never so much as bent. On his first possession, he marched the Trojans up-tempo offense down the field on a scoring drive.

He had help from running back Vavae Malepeai, who ran for two touchdowns to go with 42 yards.

But as the fourth quarter wound down, it was obvious whom Saturday night’s victory was about. With a victory in hand, the student section began chanting his name.

“We love Slo-vis!” they screamed.

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USC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: 790 KABC

USC 31, Fresno State 23

USC 45, Stanford 20

Saturday 14 at BYU, 12:30 p.m., ABC or ESPN or ESPN 2

Sept. 20 vs. Utah, 6 p.m., FS1

Sept. 28 at Washington, TBD

Oct. 12 at Notre Dame, 4:30 p.m. NBC

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Oct. 19 vs. Arizona, TBD

Oct. 25 at Colorado, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Nov. 2 vs. Oregon, TBD

Nov. 9 at Arizona State, TBD

Nov. 16 at California, TBD

Nov. 23 vs. UCLA, TBD

UCLA FOOTBALL

Here’s something no one has ever seen before: For the first time in history, San Diego State defeated UCLA in football when it won, 23-14, Saturday in front of what looked like dozens of people at the Rose Bowl (it was actually thousands of people, but in a stadium that big, the announced 36,951 looked tiny). The Aztecs were 0-21-1 against the Bruins since the series of games began in 1922. Which just goes to show you that no one holds the Aztecs winless for 100 years.

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“It doesn’t matter if we lost to them before or lost to them now,” coach Chip Kelly said. “It hurts when you lose. It hurts when you lose to Cincinnati, it hurts when you lose to San Diego State.”

The loss means Kelly is 3-11 as coach of the Bruins, which is only three more wins than you or I have led the team to in the last year and a half.

Twice, UCLA needed one yard on fourth down to sustain its faint comeback hopes. Twice, the Bruins were stuffed.

“I think we had some miscues up front and just didn’t execute the play,” UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson said after getting stopped for no gain on fourth down with about four minutes to play.

The Bruins’ final drive ended when running back Joshua Kelley ran into a wall of defenders and was stopped for a four-yard loss.

San Diego State quarterback Ryan Agnew completed 23 of 31 passes for 293 yards and one touchdown even though Bruins safety Quentin Lake said he was tipping his passing plays by touching the towel on his waist before snaps.

“I would say his success came on poor defensive alignment,” Lake said. “So it was more on us.”

All-in-all, a forgettable effort. And next week: No. 4 Oklahoma. The game will be shown by Fox, hopefully with a “Viewer Discretion is Advised” warning.

Column: Under Chip Kelly, UCLA is making the wrong kind of history

UCLA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: AM 1150

Cincinnati 24, UCLA 14

San Diego State 23, UCLA 14

Saturday vs. Oklahoma, 5 p.m., Fox

Sept. 21 at Washington State, TBD

Sept. 28 at Arizona, TBD

Oct. 5 vs. Oregon State, TBD

Oct. 17 at Stanford, 6 p.m., ESPN

Oct. 26 vs. Arizona State, TBD

Nov. 2 vs. Colorado, TBD

Nov. 16 at Utah, TBD

Nov. 23 at USC, TBD

Nov. 30 vs. California, TBD

SATURDAY’S TOP 25 SCORES

No. 1 Clemson 24, No. 12 Texas A&M 10
No. 2 Alabama 62, No. 10 New Mexico State 10
No. 3 Georgia 63, Murray State 17
No. 4 Oklahoma 70, South Dakota 14
No. 5 Ohio State 42, Cincinnati 0
No. 6 LSU 45, No. 9 Texas 38
No. 7 Michigan 24, Army 21 (2 OT)
No. 10 Auburn 24, Tulane 6
No. 11 Florida 45, Tennessee Martin 0
No. 13 Utah 35, Northern Illinois 17
California at No. 14 Washington, late
No. 15 Penn State 45, Buffalo 6
No. 16 Oregon 77, Nevada 6
No. 17 Wisconsin 61, Central Michigan 0
No. 18 Central Florida 48, Florida Atlanta 14
No. 19 Michigan State 51, Western Michigan 17
No. 20 Iowa 30, Rutgers 0
Maryland 63, No. 21 Syracuse 20
No. 22 Washington State 59, Northern Colorado 17
USC 45, No. 23 Stanford 20
Colorado 34, No. 25 Nebraska 21 (OT)

Read all about them here

SATURDAY’S PAC-12 SCORES

USC 45, No. 23 Stanford 20
San Diego State 23, UCLA 14
No. 13 Utah 35, Northern Illinois 17
California at No. 14 Washington, late
No. 16 Oregon 77, Nevada 6
No. 22 Washington State 59, Northern Colorado 17
Colorado 34, No. 25 Nebraska 21 (OT)
Arizona 65, Northern Arizona 41
Hawaii 31, Oregon State 28

Read all about them here

TENNIS

Unheralded Bianca Andreescu defeated Serena Williams, 6-3, 7-5, in front of a crowd clearly rooting for Williams to win the U.S. Open women’s singles title and keep Williams one Grand Slam singles title away from tying Margaret Court for the most ever.

On court after the win, Andreescu, 19, apologized to the crowd for defeating Williams.

Williams’ serve is usually of her biggest assets, but she double-faulted eight times and got only 44% of her first serves in play. “I believe I could have played better. I believe I could have done more. I believe I could have just been more Serena today,” Williams said. “I honestly don’t think Serena showed up. I have to kind of figure out how to get her to show up in Grand Slam finals.”

Andreescu: “The game plan right from the start was to make her work for every ball, to get as many returns in the court as possible. I think she was intimidated a little by it.”

Column: Serena Williams is different now and it’ll take some getting used to

DODGERS

The Dodgers lost to the San Francisco Giants, 1-0. The magic number for the Dodgers to clinch their seventh straight National League West title remained stuck at four. Their edge over the Atlanta Braves for home-field advantage in a potential NL championship series was reduced to 2 ½ games.

“We are gonna clinch at some point in time,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, his hand nowhere near the panic button. “We just have to play a complete baseball game, and those things will take care of themselves.”

ANGELS

Shohei Ohtani hit a three-run home run and drove in a career-high five runs to help the Angels to an 8-7 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Column: GM Billy Eppler has one year to turn Angels into a winner after four losing ones

LAFC

Adrien Perez scored his first MLS goal and Diego Rossi also connected to help LAFC tie Orlando City 2-2 in Orlando, Fla.

LAFC (19-4-6), which was without Carlos Vela for the second consecutive game, is winless in its last three matches — its longest such streak this season.

RAMS

Jared Goff struggled in the 13-3 Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. He completed 19 of 38 passes for only 229 yards, and he was sacked four times. Goff was late throwing a potential touchdown pass to receiver Brandin Cooks in the end zone. A late fourth-quarter pass was intercepted by cornerback Stephon Gilmore, all but clinching the victory for the Patriots.

Rams receiver Robert Woods said he and Goff spent the offseason working through situations that stifled the offense during regular-season defeats by the Saints, Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles and in the Super Bowl against the Patriots.

“Just certain balls and certain looks,” Woods said.

Goff also has gotten physically stronger, coach Sean McVay said, enabling him to make more plays from a crowded pocket.

“And he’s another year experienced,” McVay said. “He’s able to use those previous reps that he’s gotten and make it a memory bank.

“It’s like a Rolodex that you’re able to just draw from.”

Today Goff gets to put that expanded Rolodex to the test in the Rams’ season opener.

KINGS

The Kings announced Saturday that goalie Jack Campbell signed a two-year contract extension, locking up the 27-year-old backup through the 2021-22 season.

RAMS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: 710 ESPN, 93.1 JACK FM

Today at Carolina, 10 a.m., Fox

Sept. 15 vs. New Orleans, 1:15 p.m., Fox

Sept. 22 at Cleveland, 5:15 p.m., NBC

Sept. 29 vs. Tampa Bay, 1 p.m., Fox

Oct. 3 at Seattle, 5:15 p.m., Fox, NFL Network

Oct. 13 vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m., Fox

Oct. 20 at Atlanta, 10 a.m., Fox

Oct. 27 vs. Cincinnati, 10 a.m., CBS (in London, counts as home game for Rams)

Nov. 10 at Pittsburgh, 1:15 p.m., Fox

Nov. 17 vs. Chicago, 5:15 p.m., NBC

Nov. 25 vs. Baltimore, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Dec. 1 at Arizona, 1 p.m., Fox

Dec. 8 vs. Seattle, 5:15 p.m., NBC

Dec. 15 at Dallas, 1:15 p.m., Fox

Dec. 22 or 23 at San Francisco, TBD

Dec. 29 vs. Arizona, 1:15 p.m., Fox

CHARGERS

“Let’s be real,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “There’s only one winner in this league. That’s what I love about the NFL. When it’s all said and done, there are going to be 31 losers and one winner.

“It doesn’t matter if you lost in the Super Bowl or didn’t make the playoffs. If you’re not holding that trophy, in my opinion, you didn’t succeed. We look forward to pursuing that opportunity. We look forward to doing it together. That’s the joy we all get, each and every day.”

The Chargers being what they hope is their first championship season today.

CHARGERS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: KFI-AM 640, KFWB-AM 980

Today vs. Indianapolis, 1 p.m., CBS

Sept. 15 at Detroit, 10 a.m., CBS

Sept. 22 vs. Houston, 1:15 p.m., CBS

Sept. 29 at Miami, 10 a.m., CBS

Oct. 6 vs. Denver, 1 p.m., CBS

Oct. 13 vs. Pittsburgh, 5:15 p.m., NBC

Oct. 20 at Tennessee, 1 p.m., CBS

Oct. 27 at Chicago, 10 a.m., Fox

Nov. 3 vs. Green Bay, 1:15 p.m., CBS

Nov. 10 at Oakland, 5:15 p.m., Fox, NFL Network

Nov. 18 vs. Kansas City, 5:15 p.m., ESPN (at Mexico City, counts as home game for Chargers)

Dec. 1 at Denver, 1:15 p.m., CBS

Dec. 8 at Jacksonville, 1 p.m., Fox

Dec. 15 vs. Minnesota, 5:15 p.m., NBC

Dec. 22 or 23 vs. Oakland, TBD

Dec. 29 at Kansas City, 10 a.m., CBS

NFL

Antonio Brown‘s long tenure in Oakland has finally come to an end.

In the last two days, the All-Pro wide receiver apologized for his previous antics to his Oakland teammates, stunned everyone by posting a video that featured a private phone conversation with Raiders coach Jon Gruden, pleaded for his release from that team (which he ultimately got) and agreed to a deal with the New England Patriots.

Then a little salt in the Raiders’ wound: He showed up in a YouTube video that captured the moment he learned Oakland released him. He runs around the back yard of a home gleefully flapping his arms like a bird and yelling, “I’m free!”

So, there’s a lesson for you kids out there. Throw a tantrum and not only will you get your way, you’ll end up with a family that has a much greater chance
of success than your current family.

Only in America.

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Here’s an interesting story by David Wharton on the NFL and marijuana. Read it here.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Rams at Carolina, 10 a.m., Fox, 710 ESPN

Indianapolis at Chargers, 1 p.m., CBS, KFI 640

San Francisco at Dodgers, 1 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Angels at Chicago White Sox, 11 a.m., FSW, AM 830

Minnesota at Sparks, 1 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet

BORN ON THIS DATE

1945: Goalie Rogie Vachon

1946: NFL player L.C. Greenwood (d. 2013)

1956: NBA player Maurice Cheeks

1963: Gymnast Li Ning

1990: USC/NFL quarterback Matt Barkley

DIED ON THIS DATE

2015: Baseball player Joaquin Andujar, 62

AND FINALLY

Rogie Vachon‘s Hall of Fame induction ceremony and speech. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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