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The Sports Report: Trojans stumble against Washington

Josiah Bronson, Matt Fink
Matt Fink carries the ball against Washington.
(Elaine Thompson / AP)

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

USC FOOTBALL

With freshman Kedon Slovis still stuck in concussion protocol, Matt Fink‘s fearless downfield passing was the reason No. 21 USC managed to upset Utah a week earlier. But against a stout Washington defense which planned for such an approach, those untimely risks proved to be USC’s undoing, as Fink struggled mightily and the Trojans fell, 28-14.

Hope was still intact as Fink stood inside the 10-yard line, midway through the third quarter. USC (3-2, 1-1) trailed by two scores in what had so far been an ugly offensive effort, but a 60-yard sprint from Stephen Carr had given the Trojans a spark, putting them in position to score.

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But as Fink surveyed the Husky defense, he made the wrong read. He spotted Michael Pittman Jr., who’d been his unstoppable top target a week earlier, and he fired away, entirely unaware of the Washington corner watching closely nearby.

“Should’ve handed the ball off,” Fink said after, his eyes welling up. “That’s on me.”

The pass was snatched out of mid-air near the goalline, and with it, so were USC’s chances of turning around its recent road woes.

“You just can’t do it,” offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said of Fink’s interception. “When you play a good football team, if you make mistakes in critical situations like that, odds are you’re going to get beat.”

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As he sat in front of reporters and cameras, packed tightly into a press conference room, the weight of his mistakes was apparent on Fink’s face. As he explained his errors, Fink tried his best to stave off tears.

“What it came down to was my decision making,” Fink said, “and it wasn’t the best, obviously.”

Read more USC

USC can’t summon anything special in 28-14 loss to Washington

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USC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: 790 KABC

USC 31, Fresno State 23

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USC 45, Stanford 20

at BYU 30, USC 27 (OT)

at USC 30, Utah 23

at Washington 28, USC 14

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

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Nov. 9 at Arizona State, TBD

Nov. 16 at California, TBD

Nov. 23 vs. UCLA, TBD

UCLA FOOTBALL

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson had suffered an apparent ankle injury late in the third quarter against Arizona, turning the game into a battle of backups after the Arizona Wildcats played the entire game without star quarterback Khalil Tate.

UCLA’s Austin Burton needed to help the Bruins drive nearly the length of the field for a tying field goal or a go-ahead score that would give them sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South Division.

They got neither in a 20-17 loss.

Burton engineered a drive put his team well within field-goal range, but J.J. Molson’s 39-yard attempt sailed wide right and the Wildcats held on for a victory that sapped all of the Bruins’ momentum from their crazy comeback last weekend over Washington State.

Molson had made a field goal from the same distance moments earlier, but the Wildcats called a timeout before he could get off the kick. Molson has made just two of five field goals this season, including a 37-yarder Saturday.

Burton competed admirably in his college debut, completing five of nine passes for 48 yards. It wasn’t enough.

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

UCLA 67, at Washington State 63

at Arizona 20, UCLA 17

Oct. 5 vs. Oregon State, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network

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 21, North Carolina 20

No. 2 Alabama 59, Mississippi 31

No. 5 Ohio State 48, Nebraska 7

No. 6 Oklahoma 55, Texas Tech 16

No. 7 Auburn 56, Mississippi State 23

No. 8 Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 15

No. 9 Florida 38, Towson 0

No. 10 Notre Dame 35, No. 18 Virginia 20

No. 14 Iowa 48, Middle Tennessee 3

No. 17 Washington 28, No. 21 USC 14

No. 19 Utah 38, Washington State 13

No. 20 Michigan 52, Rutgers 0

No. 22 UCF 56, Connecticut 21

No. 23 Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 27

Oklahoma State 26, No. 24 Kansas State 13

No. 25 Michigan State 40, Indiana 31

Read all about them here

SATURDAY’S PAC-12 RESULTS

No. 17 Washington 28, No. 21 USC 14

at Arizona 20, UCLA 17

No. 19 Utah 38, Washington State 13

Stanford 31, Oregon State 28

Read all about them here

RAMS

For the third time in four games, the Rams will face an opposing quarterback today who was selected No. 1 in the NFL draft.

A foot injury slowed Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, and the Rams clamped down on Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.

Now the Rams will try to neutralize the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston.

Winston was the first pick in 2015 NFL draft. Unlike Newton and Mayfield, the Rams are facing a quarterback with a penchant for throwing longer passes.

“Big arm,” Rams safety John Johnson said. “Probably the biggest we’ve faced. ... A guy like him, you’ve got to get to him mentally because physically he can do it all.”

The 6-foot-4, 231-pound Winston is completing 60% of his passes, five for touchdowns, with four interceptions. He has been sacked 10 times.

“He’s a big-bodied guy that’s not going to let you take him down easy,” Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “So he’s going to try and fight you off and make plays down the field.”

RAMS SCHEDULE

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

Rams 30, at Carolina 27

at Rams 27, New Orleans 9

Rams 20, at Cleveland 13

Today 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

The Chargers and the Miami Dolphins are hurting as they prepare to share the field today at Hard Rock Stadium to determine which is hurting more.

The Chargers are dealing with back-to-back losses for the first time since November 2017. They’ve blown three consecutive third-quarter leads. In the last two weeks, they’ve scored only three points after halftime.

The Dolphins already have switched quarterbacks. There have been reports of numerous players asking to be traded. After halftime, they’ve scored zero points all season — while surrendering 68.

“They’re 0-3,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “We’re 1-2. We can’t be too relaxed going into this game at all. We know we’re going to get their best shot.”

CHARGERS SCHEDULE

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

at Chargers 30, Indianapolis 24 (OT)

at Detroit 13, Chargers 10

Houston 27, at Chargers 20

Today 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-Jin Ryu added to his Cy Young credentials in his final start of the regular season with seven scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants. He allowed five hits, had seven strikeouts, and didn’t walk a batter. The effort required 97 pitches and he even drove in the first run in the Dodgers’ 2-0 win.

Ryu’s outing lowered his earned-run average to 2.32, assuring he will finish with the lowest ERA in the majors, in 182 2/3 innings across 29 starts. He leads the majors with 10 starts with at least seven scoreless innings and no walks, and owns the lowest walk rate in baseball. His manager thinks he deserves to win the award. Ryu, however, isn’t as effective as a self-promoter as he is a pitcher.

“I honestly think Jacob deGrom deserves it,” Ryu said after the game.

DeGrom is the New York Mets’ ace and the reigning Cy Young Award winner. The right-hander is second to Ryu in ERA at 2.43, but boasts a significantly higher strikeout rate and threw 21 1/3 more innings. His 7.0 FanGraphs WAR leads the National League.

Ryu highlighted the metrics, the innings, and the strikeouts, complimenting deGrom on an “incredible” season. He then walked back his initial take.

“But I’m not saying you should vote for him,” Ryu said. “It was more of a suggestion. I’m not the one who makes that vote. And I usually don’t like to vote myself in any type of thing so that’s the reason why I said it that way.”

Read more Dodgers

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Justin Turner remains sidelined with back ailment

LAKERS

New Lakers coach Frank Vogel didn’t spare LeBron James or Anthony Davis during his first practice. Saturday’s morning session — the first of two for the day — was tough, physical and defensive-minded. The Lakers’ introduction to their coach set a tone Vogel wants to see continue through the season.

“The message is on Day 1 to really establish a defensive mindset,” Vogel said. “You know we got a lot of firepower offensively. But establish that defensive mindset of playing hard and playing tenacious and being physical. And on offense, just beginning to get organized and talking about the importance of playing for each other.”

Vogel plans to experiment with different starting lineups throughout training camp, but Davis and James will be two constants. He wants them getting as much practice time together as possible.

“You want to continue to learn every day,” James said. “As much as I have watched AD over the years and know about his game, you really don’t know how much more that you want to continue to build until you get on the floor with one another.”

KINGS

In their decade together, Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick helped lift the franchise to the pinnacle of the sport, then couldn’t keep it from slipping to punching-bag status.

They’ve been through four coaching changes, and seen the club’s prospect pool turn over time and again. They’ve been at the forefront of one NHL revolution, the paragon of puck possession and defensive fortitude; then lagged far behind another, as speed and movement have again modernized the game.

Now, at the point when most teams cut bait and sever ties with the aging players tethered to a fallen dynasty, the Kings are hoping to rebuild around their rooted veterans. This is somewhat out of necessity, given the hefty contracts to which each is signed (all of them are inked through at least 2021-22 and have average annual values of at least $5.8 million). But it’s partly by choice too.

A changing of the guard is on the horizon. And the Kings are counting on their core four to help guide them into the future.

“Who doesn’t want to be in that role?” Doughty said. “The guy that’s looked upon to lead the team — that’s what I’ve wanted to be my whole life. Now that I finally have it, I just want to get better at it.”

HORSE RACING

Santa Anita, trying to shake the memories of a winter/spring meet in which 30 horses died, was met with a gruesome breakdown on the front stretch Saturday, which is likely to intensify the debate over the safety and viability of horse racing in California.

Emtech was running clear down the stretch during the eighth race when he broke both front legs. The 3-year-old colt crashed to the ground, sending jockey Mario Gutierrez over the horse and to the dirt surface.

Track veterinarians were immediately on site and made the decision to euthanize the horse on the track. Gutierrez remained on the ground and a stretcher was brought out, but he got up on his own power and was taken to the first-aid center. Gutierrez was uninjured but was taken off his final mount of the day.

The death occurred on the second day of the 23-day meeting.

BOXING

Errol Spence Jr. survived a strong challenge from Shawn Porter on Saturday night at Staples Center to win a split decision and capture a second welterweight world title.

Spence (26-0, 21 knockouts) retained his International Boxing Federation title and claimed the World Boxing Council belt held by Porter (30-3-1, 17 KOs. The judges scored it 116-111 twice for him and 115-112 for Porter.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Dodgers at San Francisco, noon, Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Houston at Angels, noon, FSW, AM 830

Tampa Bay at Rams, 1 p.m., Fox, 710 ESPN

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

Galaxy at Vancouver, 4:30 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet

LAFC at Minnesota, 4:30 p.m., FS1, 710 ESPN

BORN ON THIS DATE

1907: Angels owner Gene Autry (d. 1998)

1938: Baseball player Mike McCormick

1948: Sportscaster Bryant Gumbel

1957: Runner Sebastian Coe

1960: Baseball player Rob Deer

1965: NFL player Trent Yawney

1966: NFL player Ken Norton Jr.

1969: Golfer Kelly Robbins

1988: NBA player Kevin Durant

DIED ON THIS DATE

1975: Baseball player/manager Casey Stengel, 85

2013: NFL player LC Greenwood, 67

AND FINALLY

Gene Autry sings “Back in the Saddle Again.” 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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