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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

No. 24 Trojans Trump Cornhuskers

USC survives a late Nebraska comeback to claim Holiday Bowl crown.

No. 24 USC caps of the 2014 campaign with a 45-42 victory in the Holiday Bowl (Donald Miralle | Getty Images)
No. 24 USC caps of the 2014 campaign with a 45-42 victory in the Holiday Bowl (Donald Miralle | Getty Images)

No. 24 USC (9-4, 8-3) beat out Nebraska 45-42 in an intense and heated 2014 Holiday Bowl in San Diego Saturday night.

In the opening period of play, the Trojans quickly responded to an early Cornhusker field goal with an explosive 98-yard kickoff return touchdown by freshman Adoree Jackson, the longest scoring play in Holiday Bowl history. However, it would not take long for Nebraska to retaliate, using a touchdown pass to Kenny Bell to net the score at 10-10. Another Nebraska touchdown capped off the first quarter 17-10, the most points USC has given up in a first quarter all season.

One of the true deterrents against USC for the game were it massive amounts of penalties, tallying nine penalties for 72 yards in the first quarter alone.

Trojan redshirt quarterback Cody Kessler finally made contact with junior wide receiver Nelson Agholor to secure a pretty 17-yd touchdown early in the second quarter, once again bringing the score to a deadlock. A clearly quick tempo by the USC offense led junior running back Javorius "Buck" Allen to score a touchdown to pull the Trojans ahead late in the first half. Continuous god field positioning for Nebraska kept them aggressively driving through the Trojan defense, but a pivotal interception by sophomore defensive back Su'a Cravens secured USC a 24-17 halftime lead.

Jackson continued to prove his extreme authority in the game, zig-zagging for a 71-yd touchdown catch and run early in the third quarter. Giving the ball to another explosive Trojan in Allen, the tailback secured a second touchdown to bring the score to 38-24 USC.

The touchdown pass was Kessler's 36 through the air this season, tying him with Matt Barkley for the most in USC single-season history.

Heading into the final quarter, USC continued to battle head-to-head with Nebraska, but ultimately pulled ahead to maintain a 45-34 lead. The Cornhuskers, aware of the fleeting time, seemed to pick up on the Trojan's hurry-up offense, and drove the ball to a fourth down touchdown, using a two-point conversion to narrow the score to 45-42.

USC failed to convert a single third down in the entire second half, but proved successful in running the clock down, leaving just enough time for a desperation Nebraska heave that was batted down to secure the 2014 Holiday Bowl, 45-42.

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