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The Sports Report: USC outclasses Arizona

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis looks for an open man downfield against Arizona on Saturday night.
USC quarterback Kedon Slovis looks for an open man downfield against Arizona on Saturday night.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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

USC FOOTBALL

Despite being down most of its starting secondary, USC held dynamic dual threat quarterback Khalil Tate to just 47 yards on six-of-10 passing, shutting him down so thoroughly that he was benched in the third quarter. His replacement, Grant Gunnell, came in and promptly threw a pick to Kana’i Mauga as the Trojans romped to a 41-14 victory.

Neither Arizona quarterback had much time to throw throughout, as USC’s defensive line, down both of its starting ends, completely dominated the line of scrimmage.

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Kedon Slovis threw touchdown passes to Michael Pittman Jr. and Tyler Vaughns, and the Trojans remained unbeaten at the Coliseum this season.

Freshman Kenan Christon rushed for 88 of his 103 yards in the fourth quarter and made two blazing runs to score his first career touchdowns for the Trojans (4-3, 3-1 Pac-12). USC beat Arizona for the seventh straight time and kept its share of the Pac-12 South lead with a dominant defensive performance against the Wildcats (4-3, 2-2), holding them to 167 yards and no points in the first three quarters.

Read more Trojans

USC safety Talanoa Hufanga leaves victory with injury

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USC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: 790 KABC

USC 31, Fresno State 23

USC 45, Stanford 20

at BYU 30, USC 27 (OT)

at USC 30, Utah 23

at Washington 28, USC 14

at Notre Dame 30, USC 27

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at USC 41, Arizona 14

Friday 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

SATURDAY’S TOP 25 SCOREBOARD

No. 1 Alabama 35, Tennessee 13

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No. 2 LSU 36, Mississippi St. 13

No. 3 Clemson 45, Louisville 10

No. 5 Oklahoma 52, West Virginia 14

Illinois 24, No. 6 Wisconsin 23

No. 7 Penn State 28, No. 16 Michigan 21

No. 9 Florida 38, South Carolina 27

No. 10 Georgia 21, Kentucky 0

No. 11 Auburn 51, Arkansas 10

No. 12 Oregon 35, No. 25 Washington 31

No. 13 Utah 21, No. 17 Arizona State 3

BYU 28, No. 14 Boise St. 25

No. 15 Texas 50, Kansas 48

No. 18 Baylor 45, Oklahoma State 27

No. 19 SMU 45, Temple 21

No. 20 Minnesota 42, Rutgers 7

No. 21 Cincinnati 24, Tulsa 13

Vanderbilt 21, No. 22 Missouri 14

No. 23 Iowa 26, Purdue 20

No. 24 Appalachian St. 52, Louisiana Monroe 7

Read game stories here

Saturday’s Pac-12 scoreboard

USC 41, Arizona 14

No. 12 Oregon 35, No. 25 Washington 31

No. 13 Utah 17, No. 17 Arizona St. 3

Oregon State 21, California 17

Washington St. 41, Colorado 10

Read game stories here

Pac-12 standings

North

Oregon, 4-0 in Pac- 12, 6-1 overall

Oregon St., 2-2, 3-4

Washington, 2-3, 5-3

Stanford, 2-3, 3-4

California, 1-3, 4-3

Washington St., 1-3, 4-3

South

Utah, 3-1, 6-1

USC, 3-1, 4-3

Arizona St., 2-2, 5-2

Arizona, 2-2, 4-3

UCLA, 2-2, 2-5

Colorado, 1-3, 3-4

KINGS

The Kings snapped a three-game losing streak with a dominant 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday at Staples Center. Tyler Toffoli scored in the opening two minutes. Jeff Carter tallied his first goal. Anze Kopitar netted a short-handed breakaway. The Kings’ power-play converted for the first time in six games. Goalie Jonathan Quick made 23 saves in his best performance of the year. The Flames’ lone goal came on a late penalty shot by Mikael Backlund.

Finally, after a week of squandered chances and frustrating setbacks, the Kings put together all the pieces in the finale of their five-game homestand. It was arguably their most complete game all season.

Yet, at 3-5-0, the Kings remain in last place in the Pacific Division. They’ve made small strides, but still seem somewhat stuck in place. Like a group grinding on the treadmill, tangible gains have come slowly. The best word to describe their opening eight games: enigmatic.

RAMS

They suffered an embarrassing Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, started the next season with three wins in a row and then lost three consecutive games to fall to 3-3.

The Rams?

No, that was the Atlanta Falcons.

At the end of the 2016 season, the Falcons melted down against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, blowing a 25-point, second-half lead. The Falcons started fast in 2017, and then endured a three-game losing streak. They finished with a 10-6 record and earned a wild-card playoff berth, defeating the Rams before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in a divisional-round game.

So the reeling Rams might take short-term inspiration from the Falcons, their opponent Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The stadium, of course, was the site of the Rams’ 13-3 Super Bowl loss to the Patriots last February. It was the Rams’ worst offensive performance under coach Sean McVay. And the loss immediately raised the specter of a potential malaise that doomed numerous teams the season after they lost in the Super Bowl.

McVay and his players downplayed that possibility since training camp. Victories over the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns assuaged some concerns. But losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers renewed the story line.

“This is a challenging time,” Rams coach Sean McVay said, “but it’s not something that you’re going to let be deflating.”

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

Tampa Bay 55, at Rams 40

at Seattle 30, Rams 29

San Francisco 20, at Rams 7

Today 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

Melvin Gordon is, by definition, a running back.

One of the problems for the Chargers has been Gordon’s lack of actual running. The two-time Pro Bowler hasn’t rushed for more than 42 yards in a game since Nov. 25.

Gordon has struggled just getting opportunities over the last two weeks after sitting out September because of a contract dispute.

In consecutive home losses to Denver and Pittsburgh, the Chargers’ running game was sabotaged by gaping early deficits and a young, pieced-together offensive line that has been inconsistent.

Gordon carried only 20 times for 49 yards in those defeats and had no run longer than seven yards. Philip Rivers and his 37-year-old legs have two rushes that have netted more than seven yards this season.

“Playing from behind really makes you one dimensional,” Gordon said. “No team in the NFL wants to play like that. You become too predictable. It’s been frustrating. But it’s part of the game.”

Entering their Sunday game at Tennessee, the Chargers will be looking to avoid another crippling start and somehow reestablish the notion that Gordon is worthy of the lucrative contract extension he seeks.

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

Chargers 30, at Miami 10

Denver 20, at Chargers 13

Pittsburgh 24, at Chargers 17

Today 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

BASEBALL

ALCS schedule

All times Pacific. All games on FS1

Game 1: New York 7, at Houston 0

Game 2: at Houston 3, New York 2 (11)

Game 3: Houston 4, at New York 1

Game 4: Houston 8, at New York 3

Game 5: at New York 4, Houston 1

Game 6: at Houston 6, New York 4 (Read game story here)

World Series schedule

All times Pacific. All games on Fox.

Game 1: Tuesday, Washington at Houston, 5 p.m.

Game 2: Wednesday, Washington at Houston, 5 p.m.

Game 3: Friday, Houston at Washington, 5 p.m.

Game 4: Saturday, Houston at Washington, 5 p.m.

Game 5*: Oct. 27, Houston at Washington, 5 p.m.

Game 6*: Oct. 29, Washington at Houston, 5 p.m.

Game 7*: Oct. 30, Washington at Houston, 5 p.m.

*-if necessary

HORSE RACING

Santa Anita, two weeks before the Breeders’ Cup, suffered its second racing fatality in 15 race days when Satchel Paige was pulled up after a life-ending injury on the far turn during Saturday’s running of the fifth race.

In addition, the track has had two training injuries. The total of four equals last year’s total for the short fall meeting.

Satchel Paige was the favorite in the maiden race and was moving up on leaders when it appeared something happened to his left front leg and jockey Ruben Fuentes pulled him up. He was attended to on the track and euthanized when it was determined his injuries could not be repaired. The tell-tale green screen obscured what was happening to the horse when attending veterinarians arrived on the scene.

Fuentes was uninjured and offered no comment when approached by a Times reporter.

GALAXY

Today could be the last time you see Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a Galaxy uniform. Ibrahimovic, whose contract expires at the end of the year, has been coy about his future, leading to speculation that a loss Sunday in a playoff game against Minnesota would mark his last game in MLS.

“Could be,” he said after a training session last week. “I have a contract until 31 December. So until then there is no other thought.”

BILL PLASCHKE

Paradise football coach Rick Prinz is shaking his head at the wonder of it all.

“A mission,” he says. “We’re on a mission.”

It is, thus far, a mission of magic: eight wins, no losses, 362 points to 40 in a season that has been beyond storybook.

Nearly a year after the most destructive wildfire in California history annihilated their town and caused 86 deaths, the Bobcats are two games from heading into playoffs that could lead them to a coveted sectional title, perhaps even a state championship.

Their journey has brought folks back to the slowly rebuilding city for Friday night reunions and restored a sense of community pride and spirit. On this homecoming night, even though a bank of lights went dark and the stadium bathrooms were still unusable, the stands were filled with the illuminating cheers and working hugs.

“Everybody is talking about the football team, it’s the glue that’s holding a lot of this together,” says Wendy Marsters, a longtime Paradise High biology teacher. “The heart of Paradise is back and beating again.”

It would be a dream season, really, except that the Paradise football players, like many of their fellow students, continue to live an evolving nightmare.

Only three members of the team actually live in Paradise. The long commutes and uncertain housing situations have kept their lives in an uproar. They have lost their routines, their traditions, their footing. And, after the second game of the season, they nearly lost their giant, beloved offensive line coach, Andy Hopper, who suffered a cardiac event that required three surgeries and included at least one doctor’s prediction of probable death.

To read the rest of Plaschke’s column, click here.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

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

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

Calgary at Ducks, 6 p.m., PRIME

Galaxy at Minnesota, 5:30 p.m., ESPN

BORN ON THIS DATE

1926: Swimmer Ursula Happe

1931: Baseball player Mickey Mantle (d. 1995)

1937: Baseball player Juan Marichal

1949: Sprinter Valery Borzov

1953: Baseball player Keith Hernandez

1955: Boxer Aaron Pryor (d. 2016)

1958: Football player Dave Krieg

1965: Football player Chad Hennings

1965: Former Duck Mikhail Shtalenkov

1969: Baseball player Juan Gonzalez

1971: Former Laker Eddie Jones

AND FINALLY

Mickey Mantle vs. Willie Mays on “Home Run Derby.” 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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