The USC Trojans used big plays to make a winner out of Ed Orgeron in his coaching debut with a 38-31 victory over the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It was the seventh straight game between the two schools decided by a touchdown or less.
Even without All-American receiver Marqise Lee, the Trojans took a 28-3 lead late in the second quarter. Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker threw a career-high four touchdown passes in a comeback attempt but the Wildcats were never able to pull closer than to within seven points.
After former coach Lane Kiffin was grounded on the tarmac on Sept. 29, USC aired it out against Arizona with two of its longest three pass plays of the season in the first quarter on Thursday night, the first Thursday home game for the Trojans since beating UCLA on Thanksgiving in 1938.
Madden, in addition to his touchdown reception, ran for 28 yards on five carries before leaving the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. USC tight end Xavier Grimble left in the second quarter with a shoulder sprain, and was dressed in street clothes in the second half.
The teams combined for 1,055 yards and 53 first downs. USC (4-2, 1-2 in Pac-12) picked up their first conference victory of the season, while Arizona (3-2, 0-2) remains winless in Pac-12 play.
Box Score Hero: The sophomore Agholor matched a career-high with six catches and his 161 receiving yards were just four yards shy of his best game. It was the second 100-yard receiving game in Agholor's college career, and his first this season.
Arizona tailback Ka'Deem Carey ran for 138 yards on 21 carries, and caught six passes for 36 receiving yards.
Rankings Ramifications: Arizona received four votes in last week's USA Today Coaches Poll, ranking 35th overall, but can kiss those votes goodbye. USC received no votes in either the Associated Press or Coaches Poll last week.
But Did They Cover? The Trojans were 5½-point favorites at home, per Odds Shark, and covered, barely.
Next Week's Schedule: The Trojans head to South Bend to play Notre Dame on Saturday night, Oct. 19, while Arizona returns home to host Utah the same night.