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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

No. 17 USC Trojans Suffer Upset Loss to Washington Huskies

No. 17 USC suffered an upset loss Thursday night, falling to the Washington Huskes, 17-12 at the Coliseum. 

Cody Kessler had the worst game of his career Thursday night, as the No. 17 USC Trojans fell to the Washington Huskies, 17-12 at the Coliseum.

Kessler, who had one interception all season going into Thursday night’s contest, threw two interceptions in the team’s first three drives. He completed 16 of 29 passes for only 156 yards, well below his season average of 324 yards per game. He also did not throw a single touchdown, the fifth time it has happened in his three-year career as starting quarterback. 

Head coach Steve Sarkisian didn’t put the blame solely on his quarterback, but instead took most of the blame himself. 

“We didn’t coach well enough,” Sarkisian said. “It’s on me. We didn’t play well enough to deserve to win the game, that’s the bottom line.”

Center Max Tuerk left the game in the first half after suffering a knee sprain and did not return. Sarkisian thinks losing Tuerk may have been part of the reason Kessler struggled.

“Losing Max was not great for us,” Sarkisian said. “Max and Cody are roommates, they’ve been together their entire careers here. Maybe there was a sense of uneasiness there.”

Kessler was forced out of the pocket most of the night and was unable to gain any rhythm. He was sacked five times and was constantly hounded by the Huskies defense.

While the passing game was out-of-sync, the Trojans were able to gain traction through the running game, particularly in the first half. Tre Madden rushed for 123 yards on 17 carries and Ronald Jones II had 65 yards on eight carries and the Trojans’ only touchdown. 

The Trojans shied away from the run in the second half and often found themselves in third-and-long situations. They only completed one out of 13 third-down conversions.

The Trojans had a 6-3 lead going into halftime thanks to two field goals from kicker Alex Wood. Washington took the lead at the start of the third quarter on a trick play after USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster fumbled.

Washington scored again at the start of the fourth quarter on a 1-yard rush by running back Myles Gaskin to push the lead to 17-6.

USC answered back when Jones II capped off a long drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make the score 17-12. The Trojans went for the two-point conversion, but failed to execute when Madden dropped a gimme pass from Kessler.

USC will look to rebound against rival Notre Dame Saturday Oct. 17 in South Bend. 

By: Dan Lovi

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