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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California


USC Crushes Fresno State 45-20 To Win Las Vegas Bowl Crown

USC gets its 10th win of the season after defeating Fresno State 45-20, and take home its first Las Vegas Bowl Championship.

The USC Trojans concluded their season with a 45-20 blowout win over the No. 21 Fresno State Bulldogs in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. USC quarterback Cody Kessler walked away with MVP honors as he passed for a career-high 344 yards and a bowl-record four touchdowns. 

The Trojans take home their first Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl Championship, and their first postseason victory since 2009.

USC celebrates its first Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl Championship.
USC celebrates its first Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl Championship.

"This is a team that hopefully will be remember forever in USC history," said Kessler. "These guys, it doesn't take a lot to get us motivated. When you're playing just for someone else next to you, you don't want to let him down."

Kessler synced with his dynamic wide receivers Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor who each brought down two touchdowns. Lee finished the day with seven receptions for 118 yards, while Agholor had five receptions for 94 yards.

Despite having three running backs sidelined due to injury USC had a lot of success on the ground. USC running back Javorius Allen had a pair of touchdowns as he finished with 27 carries for 86 yards. Ty Isaac had four carries for 44 yards.

USC interim head coach Clay Helton led the Trojans on to the field for the first and last time as the head coach. In a season that featured four coaching changes players still found a way to win ending the season with a 10-4 record.

"We had to see...were we going to use it as an excuse to be on our third-string head coach, or were we just going to say, 'We're not going to fail today," said Helton.

USC linebacker Devon Kennard celebrates the Trojans first postseason victory since 2009.
USC linebacker Devon Kennard celebrates the Trojans first postseason victory since 2009.

The Trojans took control early going into the half leading 35-6.

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr had much success during the season (11-2), but struggled against USC. Carr was 30 of 54 for just 217 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. 

The Bulldogs only two offensive touchdowns came from Isaiah Burse and Davante Adams. Both scores came from great field position acquired from USC special teams mistakes.

The Bulldogs defense made a huge play in the second half as Derron Smith returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown. 

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs they came up one win short from setting a school record of 12 wins.

The Mountain West Champions have struggled in the postseason and haven't won a bowl game since 2007. They have lost six of their last seven attempts.

USC faced a lot of adversity this season as they saw two head coaches leave the program. Still they claim both Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron played a role in their motivation.

"Coach Kiff brought us together and coach O just maintained to make sure we continued to do what we were supposed to do," said Lee, "At the end of the day this is a win for both of them."

The Trojans got their 10th win in a dominating fashion, and state that this is a season they will never forget.

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