USC receiver Marqise Lee catches a touchdown pass against Utah defensive… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
If you’re a USC football fan, there were some things to like about the Trojans’ performance in a 38-28 victory over Utah on Thursday night in a nationally televised Pac-12 Conference game at Salt Lake City.
Two of them: Matt Barkley and Marqise Lee.
Barkley completed 23 of 30 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. And he actually was better than that, since a couple of long passes -- one that would have gone for a touchdown -- were dropped.
Lee made 12 catches for 192 yards and a touchdown.
USC also showed some composure and resolve, quickly bouncing back after two early turnovers helped Utah take a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
But the Trojans also showed some lack of composure and plenty not to like in running their record to 4-1 overall, 2-1 in Pac-12 play, as Utah dropped to 2-3, 0-2.
USC was penalized 14 times for 100 yards, with players losing their cool on some plays and looking as if they had no idea what they were doing (how much is USC paying these coaches?) on others.
Then again, Utah didn’t play anything close to a clean game either. The Utes were penalized 13 times for 122 yards.
Utah jumped on the Trojans at the start, when USC fumbled on its second play from scrimmage. Center Khaled Holmes returned to the Trojans’ starting lineup, but his snap to Barkley, who was in shotgun formation, was low. Barkley picked up the bouncing ball, but Utah defensive end Nate Fakahafua stripped it from his grasp and ran eight yards for a touchdown.
USC’s next possession also ended with a flubbed snap, and Utah nose tackle Star Lotulelei, who looked like a man against boys early in the game, recovered the ball at the USC 13.
Two plays later, Utah quarterback Jon Hays found Kenneth Scott in the end zone for a scoring pass.
USC cut its deficit to 14-10 on a three-yard run by Silas Redd and a 32-yard field-goal by Andre Heidari.
Utah’s only score until garbage time was an 18-yard touchdown pass from Hays to DeVonte Christopher that put the Utes up, 21-10, midway through the second quarter.
But from then on, it was all USC as the Trojans scored the next 28 points on a Barkley pass to Randall Telfer covering 23 yards, a six-yard pass from Barkley to Robert Woods, an 83-yard pass from Barkley to Lee, and a 38-yard interception return by Nickell Robey.