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Record-setting day for USC quarterback Cody Kessler

Person with knowledge of the situation says that the offensive coordinator, who coached the Trojans to a 45-20 victory over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl, will be retained by the new head coach.

December 21, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • USC quarterback Cody Kessler, who threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns, completed all three of his passes on the final scoring drive against Fresno State to help seal a 45-20 victory in the Las Vegas Bowl.
USC quarterback Cody Kessler, who threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns,… (Ethan Miller / Getty Images )

LAS VEGAS -- Quarterback Cody Kessler was selected most valuable player after completing 22 of 30 passes for 344 yards and a Las Vegas Bowl-record four touchdowns in a 45-20 victory over Fresno State on Saturday.

Kessler had one pass intercepted, and it was returned for a touchdown.

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"It was a great game today and it was 100% due to the offensive line," Kessler said, adding, "It is due to them and our receivers, who are freak athletes."

Record-setting performance

USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton, who was interim coach for the bowl game, will be retained by new Coach Steve Sarkisian, The Times has learned.

SUMMARY: USC 45, Fresno State 20

A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed that Helton would remain on staff.

Sarkisian previously announced that receivers coach Tee Martin would be part of his staff.

Sarkisian implemented a no-huddle, hurry-up offense at Washington this season and plans to run it next season with the Trojans.

Helton, 41, was offensive coordinator at Memphis before joining the Trojans in 2010 and has experience running a no-huddle offense.

Waiting game

The NCAA is investigating allegations that an assistant coach who worked under Sarkisian at Washington paid for private tutoring and online courses for a recruit.

Under NCAA bylaws, if the allegations are proven true, Sarkisian could face possible penalties, including suspension, unless he can prove that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance and monitored his staff.

Asked whether he was concerned about the allegations, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said, "They're allegations. They haven't been proven yet. We're just going to let the NCAA do their thing."

Swan song

In what most likely was his final game for USC, Marqise Lee caught seven passes for 118 yards, including two touchdowns.

Lee, a junior who is regarded as a possible first-round NFL draft pick, scored on plays of 10 and 40 yards in the first half.

"I had a pretty good game," he said. "It felt good to actually be out here at 100% and being able to do the things I was able to do."

Lee had 57 receptions this season and has 248 in his career, four shy of Robert Woods' USC record of 252.

Lee reiterated that he would sit down with his family this week to decide whether to make himself available for the draft.

Hometown hero

USC tight end Xavier Grimble topped off a nice homecoming week by catching two passes for 22 yards.

Grimble is from Las Vegas and played at Bishop Gorman High.

The junior finished the season with 25 receptions. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Grimble said last week that he would probably return for his senior season.

Shaw shines

Junior cornerback Josh Shaw intercepted a pass in the end zone late in the third quarter to quell a Fresno State threat.

Shaw was playing man-to-man coverage against Davante Adams, the national leader in receptions, touchdowns and receiving yards.

Sophomore cornerback Kevon Seymour led the Trojans with seven tackles.

George Uko is ejected

USC defensive lineman George Uko was ejected for making contact with an official.

Uko was ejected early in the third quarter after Fresno State scored a touchdown to pull to within 35-13. He said the official was behind him and he mistakenly thought it was a player.

Uko blocked an extra-point attempt in the first quarter.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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