The Pac-12 South is USC’s to lose.
The No. 17 Trojans are the clear favorites in the division after surviving a scare from No. 22 Arizona in the second half on the way to a 49-35 win.
Arizona, powered by dynamic quarterback Khalil Tate, tied the game at 35-35 with 8:23 to go on a touchdown run by Zach Green. But USC immediately responded with a seven-play, 72-yard drive that culminated with a touchdown run by running back Ronald Jones.
When Arizona got the ball back, disaster struck. Tate had brought Arizona back from a 28-6 deficit thanks to some spectacular runs. But this throw on the first play of Arizona’s drive was an apparent miscommunication with his receiver.
Five plays after that pick Jones was in the end zone for a third time. He finished with 27 carries for 194 yards and three touchdowns. Along with Aca’Cedric Ware’s 105 yards, USC had 51 carries for 333 rushing yards and four scores.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold was spectacular too. Yeah, he did throw an interception — he’s thrown at least one in eight of 10 games this season — but was 20-of-26 passing for 311 yards and two touchdowns.
Tate rushed for 161 yards and became the first quarterback in Pac-12 history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. Yes, he did that with three games left in the regular season. And yes, he did that without starting the first four games of the season. Even if Arizona finishes the season 8-4, Tate should be considered for the Heisman Trophy if he keeps this up.
Both Arizona and USC entered the game as the only teams in the Pac-12 South with one conference loss. The Trojans are now 6-1 in the conference and have the head-to-head tiebreaker over their nearest pursuers. A USC win over either Colorado or UCLA clinches the division.
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