Advertisement
Sports

The Sports Report: Reports of USC’s resurgence were greatly exaggerated

USC v BYU
BYU players celebrate after their victory.
(Getty Images)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. I guess the Trojans didn’t listen to all those “trap game” warnings.

USC FOOTBALL

Well, USC’s season came to a screeching halt much quicker than expected. After last week’s impressive victory over Stanford, the No. 24 Trojans lost to unranked BYU, 30-27, when quarterback Kedon Slovis threw an interception in overtime.

All week, coach Clay Helton preached maturity to his young team. He acknowledged the trap that BYU presented. He warned of a road letdown.

Advertisement

And yes, the intercepted pass was tipped, but it was the perfect exclamation point to a game riddled with mistakes.

Their scorching offense had gone cold. Their dynamic freshman quarterback was made mortal. Their defense went missing in action.

“We had the opportunity to close the door,” Helton said, “and you know what, the ball bounced the wrong way. That happens sometimes in football.”

“We left some things on the field that we should’ve fought through,” receiver Tyler Vaughns said. “It’s just on us.”

Advertisement

It started with Slovis, who seemed ready after one possession to replicate his near-perfect performance from last week. He marched the Trojans down the field on a 10-play touchdown drive to open the game. He hit open receivers in spite of pressure. He took what BYU’s defense gave to him.

When Slovis ended the drive with an eight-yard dart to Michael Pittman Jr. in the end zone, it seemed the Trojans might skate to a road victory, setting their sights on their marquee Pac-12 matchup Friday against Utah.

But that was as good as Slovis or USC’s offense would look all afternoon. BYU (2-1) dropped eight men into zone coverage, challenging Slovis to thread the needle down the field.

On USC’s next drive, Slovis threw an interception deep in his own territory. Then, one drive later, he threw another, this one, into triple coverage. The mistakes led to a 10-7 BYU lead.

He tried to stay positive, but the offense deflated with its quarterback’s inconsistency. In all, Slovis threw three interceptions, including the game-ending dagger, to go with 281 yards and two touchdowns.

“One thing you can’t let happen,” Slovis said. “You can’t lose your confidence, or else you’re screwed.”

Read more:

Dylan Hernandez: “Damn noise” about Clay Helton’s USC future blaring louder after loss to BYU

Advertisement

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson scrambles USC’s plans for victory

USC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: 790 KABC

USC 31, Fresno State 23

USC 45, Stanford 20

at BYU 30, USC 27 (OT)

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

Sept. 28 at Washington, TBD

Advertisement

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

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

And then there’s the Bruins. They lost to No. 5 Oklahoma, 48-14. The game wasn’t actually that close.

UCLA is 0-3 for a second consecutive season under coach Chip Kelly, but this doesn’t feel so much like a repeat as a regression. The team is averaging just 14 points this season for a purported offensive genius whose team bears no resemblance to his Duck dynasty at Oregon.

The Bruins are a mess across the board, struggling to cover receivers or sustain drives. Their fans even suffered a defeat of sorts on a sweltering day with a game-time temperature of 95 degrees, appearing to be slightly outnumbered by their Oklahoma counterparts among the announced crowd of 52,578. A lot of Bruins fans appeared to be disguised as empty seats.

The Bruins had pledged improvement after holding a players-only meeting earlier in the week but looked largely the same while suffering a fourth consecutive loss going back to last season.

“I think it’s a consistency thing,” said Kelly, whose team has scored two touchdowns in each of its first three games.

“No one’s going to feel sorry for us,” Kelly said, “so we don’t feel sorry for ourselves and we don’t make excuses and we don’t let anyone make excuses for us. We have to grow and get better as a team and we’ll continue to do that.”

It was nice to hear Dodgers announcer Joe Davis call the game on Fox, but he sees a better offense when he calls Dodgers games.

Read more:

Bill Plaschke: Will Chip Kelly give up on UCLA before they give up on him?

UCLA coach Chip Kelly sticks with Dorian Thompson-Robinson as his quarterback

Arash Markazi: Rose Bowl is a special venue and UCLA football is making it a depressing place

UCLA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: AM 1150

at Cincinnati 24, UCLA 14

San Diego State 23, at UCLA 14

Oklahoma 48. at UCLA 14

Sept. 21 at Washington State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

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 RESULTS

No. 1 Clemson 41, at Syracuse 6

No. 2 Alabama 47, at South Carolina 23

at No. 3 Georgia 55, Arkansas State 0

at No. 4 LSU 65, Northwestern State 14

No. 5 Oklahoma 48, at UCLA 14

No. 6 Ohio State 51, at Indiana 10

at No. 7 Notre Dame 66, New Mexico 14

at No. 8 Auburn 55, Kent State 16

No. 9 Florida 29, at Kentucky 21

at No. 11 Utah 31, Idaho State 0

No. 12 Texas 48, at Rice 13

at No. 13 Penn State 17, Pitt 10

at No. 15 Oregon 35, Montana 3

No. 16 Texas A&M 62, Lamar 3

at No. 17 UCF 45, Stanford 27

Arizona State 10, at No. 18 Michigan State 7

No. 19 Iowa 18, at Iowa State 17

at Temple 20, No. 21 Maryland 17

at No. 22 Boise State 45, Portland State 10

at No. 23 Washington 52, Hawaii 20

at BYU 30, No. 24 USC 27

at No. 25 Virginia 31, Florida State 24

Read all about them here

Read more:

NCAA’s argument against Fair Pay for Play has no merit and Week 3 mismatches prove it

SATURDAY’S PAC-12 RESULTS

at BYU 30, No. 24 USC 27 (OT)

No. 5 Oklahoma 48, at UCLA 14

Air Force 30, at Colorado 23

at No. 17 UCF 45, Stanford 27

Arizona State 10, at No. 18 Michigan State 7

at No. 11 Utah 31, Idaho State 0

at California 23, North Texas 17

at Oregon State 45, Cal Poly SLO 7

at No. 23 Washington 52, Hawaii 20

at Arizona 28, Texas Tech 14

at No. 15 Oregon 35, Montana 3

Read all about them here

RAMS

Rams coach Sean McVay paced the sideline and scanned his play sheet. He covered his mouth and barked instructions into his headset. Facing the biggest drive of his coaching career, his mind raced.

All last season, the Rams seemed destined for the Super Bowl. But in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter in the NFC championship game, their offense took the field trailing by three points. Their season teetered on the brink.

On the opposite sideline, Sean Payton was still furious. As the Rams drove into field-goal range, the New Orleans Saints coach berated the referees. Step for step, he stayed in their ears. He was far from over their monumental mistake. A possession earlier, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman was infamously not flagged for pass interference, the dubious turning point that will forever be tagged to the Rams’ 26-23 overtime win.

But before history’s sliding doors slammed shut, the Rams still needed to at least get into field-goal range. They still needed to execute the nine-play, 45-yard drive that marked a coming of age for coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff but went overlooked in the game’s controversial aftermath.

This week, ahead of their rematch Sunday with the Saints, the key members of that drive happily relived the memory of that sometimes overlooked possession.

“It,” a grinning McVay said, “was a blur.”

Read the oral history of that drive, as compiled by Jack Harris, by clicking here.

Read more:

Dante Fowler and Rams defense key to beating Saints

Rams vs. Saints: How the teams match up for today’s game

RAMS SCHEDULE

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

Rams 30, at Carolina 27

Today 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

Today, the Chargers are in Detroit to take on the Lions, their first regular-season trip of 2019. Will they be able to recapture the NFL’s most impressive road-field advantage?

“We’re pulling up wherever,” defensive end Melvin Ingram said. “We want pressure. We want smoke. We want it all. All that. We’re going to make everybody else’s home stadium our home stadium.”

The Chargers have won nine of their last 11 regular-season games on the road. Entering the season, only the Rams could match that mark.

Going back to beating Dallas on Thanksgiving Day of 2017, the Chargers are 11-2 — including the playoffs — in games played anywhere other than L.A.

“We don’t care what the situation is, who we’re going against, what the crowd is like,” tight end Virgil Green said. “We live for those moments. We really believe that. That’s the swag we take into games.”

CHARGERS SCHEDULE

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

at Chargers 30, Indianapolis 24 (OT)

Today 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

DODGERS

Hyun-Hin Ryu pitched seven shutout innings, but the bullpen gave up three runs in the eighth inning of a 3-0 loss to the New York Mets.

BOXING

Tyson Fury survived a ferocious match against Otto Wallin and retained is heavyweight title with a 116-112, 117-111, 118-110 decision that is presumably a further step toward a rematch with Deontay Wilder.

BASKETBALL

For USA Basketball, summer ended Saturday with an 87-74 win over Poland in the seventh-place game at the World Cup, the lowest finish ever by a U.S. team in a major international tournament. Donovan Mitchell finished with 16 points and 10 assists, Joe Harris scored 14 and the U.S. wrapped up its stay in China with a 6-2 record.

And when it was over, as his players signed each other’s jerseys in the locker room as souvenirs, U.S. coach Gregg Popovich insisted this team has nothing to be ashamed about.

“If you don’t win, some people will play the blame game,” Popovich said. “There’s no blame to be placed anywhere. They play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn’t win a gold medal? That’s a ridiculous attitude. It’s immature. It’s arrogant. And it shows that whoever thinks that doesn’t respect all the other teams in the world and doesn’t respect that these guys did the best they could.”

Read more:

Jaime Manguia dominates in TKO victory over Patrick Allotey

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

New Orleans at Rams, 1:15 p.m., Fox, 710 ESPN

Chargers at Detroit, 10 a.m., CBS, KFI 640

Dodgers at New York Mets, 4 p.m., ESPN, AM 570

Tampa Bay at Angels, 1 p.m., FSW, AM 830

Seattle at Sparks, noon, ESPN2

Sporting Kansas City at Galaxy, 7 p.m., FS1

BORN ON THIS DATE

1920: Former Angels manager Dave Garcia (d. 2018)

1936: Tennis player Ashley Cooper

1938: Baseball player Gaylord Perry

1940: NFL player/actor Merlin Olsen (d. 2010)

1961: NFL player Dan Marino

1962: NFL player Earnest Byner

1975: Swimmer Tom Dolan

1979: NHL player Patrick Marleau

DIED ON THIS DATE

1924: Baseball player Frank Chance, 47

AND FINALLY

The NFL’s 100 greatest players, No. 27: Merlin Olsen. 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.


Newsletter
Get our daily Sports Report newsletter
Advertisement