No. 13 USC came back from a 21-7 second-half deficit to beat Utah on Saturday night in Los Angeles, 28-27.
After a tying touchdown with 42 seconds left brought them within a point, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham sent out the Utes offense for a decisive two-point conversion. Quarterback Troy Williams tried to scramble after play-action didn’t lead him to an open receiver. He didn’t make it, and USC kneeled out the clock.
Here’s how open a Utah receiver was. Do not watch if you’re a Utah fan:
This is where Darren Carrington was WIDE open. pic.twitter.com/IB3JJtU0ki— Josh Furlong (@JFurKSL) October 15, 2017
Let’s hone in on this a bit:
Williams had an open receiver, Darren Carrington, in the back of the end zone. But Williams apparently never saw him, so he tried to run anyway. That’s tough. .
That the two-pointer didn’t work is a shame for Utah, but Whittingham made a defensible choice. USC is a more talented team, and shortening the game to a play that’s fairly close to 50/50 isn’t a bad choice in that circumstance. It didn’t work, but Utah was always likelier than not to lose in an overtime period, too.
The Utes haven’t won at USC since 1916, though their losing streak there is only seven games. The teams weren’t in the same conference until Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011, and Utah’s been competitive against USC since then.
Utah moved to 4-2 and lost its second game in a row. USC is 6-1. The Trojans ran a home winning streak to 14, and they got some vengeance for a loss in Salt Lake City last fall. In that game, the Utes won on a 15-play, 93-yard drive that included a pair of fourth-and-short conversions. Being risky worked then. It just didn’t work now.