Observations: Arizona vs. USC

Arizona was able to come up with the upset win over USC on Saturday night. Read on for numerous observations on how the Wildcats got it done.

Arizona fell behind by two scores in the second half only to battle back and defeat USC in thrilling fashion, 39-36.

UA scored 26 unanswered points after the Trojans scored a third-quarter touchdown. The Wildcats took an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and ultimately held off Southern California for the victory.

The victory moves Arizona to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in conference play while the Wildcats handed USC its second loss against Pac-12 competition.

It was a game full of offensive firepower on both sides of the ball, but Southern California committed one too many turnovers and it caught up with the Trojans in the end.

  • Matt Scott had a big game passing as well as running the ball. The senior threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns while adding 100 yards rushing and a score on the ground.

    Scott was able to avoid USC pressure all game long and looked much more assertive in terms of running with the football. He had the Trojans' defense confused for much of the game as he seemed to move the ball at will.

  • Austin Hill had a career day, catching 10 passes for 259 yards. Hill found ways to get open everywhere and wreaked havoc on the USC secondary. Hill has become Scott's favorite target for obvious reasons and he continues to find way to make big plays no matter who he is matched up against.

  • Ka'Deem Carey had another strong outing, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Carey never broke free for a huge gain, but he was consistent rushing the ball and seemed to pick up positive yardage every time he touched the ball.

  • Wide receiver Dan Buckner had another big game, catching seven passes for 57 yards and a score. The senior continues to be another favorite target of Scott's and was, once again, able to use his body to his advantage, often shielding the defender from the ball or stretching out to make a big catch.

  • Arizona's defense surrendered 618 yards of offense to USC, but the unit forced four turnovers (USC's fifth turnover was committed by its defense after intercepting a pass from Matt Scott).

    The four takeaways prevented the Trojans from scoring multiple times and completely halted promising drives. If USC doesn't cough the ball up as much, it likely wins the ball game.

  • For the second straight contest, UA's rushing defense has looked slightly improved. The Wildcats allowed just 4.8 yards per carry and 125 rushing yards total to USC. That may not seem too impressive at first glance, but when you consider how Arizona has defended the run heading into the last two games, it's certainly a positive sign.

  • UA received a big boost from special teams. Kicker John Bonano connected on two of three field goal attempts, punter Kyle Dugandzic landed four punts inside the 20 yard line and Daniel Jenkins had a long kickoff return. Other than blown coverage on the last kickoff late in the fourth quarter, UA's special teams outplayed USC's.

  • The Wildcats saw several players leave the game for portions of the game due to injuries. Justin Washington, Sione Tuihalamaka, Marquis Flowers, Jared Tevis, Jourdon Grandon and Matt Scott all left the game for brief periods (Washington, Tuihalamaka and Grandon never returned), but Arizona continued to push on. Despite the beaten up defense, UA continued to fight until the end and were able to hold of Southern California.

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