There may not be the buzz there was before the BYU game but the crowds are here. The tailgate section is jammed and Sam Hughes Place, the restaurant we conduct the pregame show at, was shoulder to shoulder with people.
20:00 before game time:
There is a USC fan wearing Capri pants…a MALE fan. I am not sure what to make of this. Am I more worried about some dude wearing Capri pants or the fact I know what Capri pants are?
2:00 before game time:
The game has been announced as a sell out and the stadium is mostly full. Very few late stragglers this week. USC appears to have a nice contingency, but not as big as BYU. They did, however, seem to tailgate more.
14:45 in the first quarter:
Big return and bug fan reaction. Steptoe runs it out to the 35 and fights his way to the 41. The crowd responds with a huge roar.
13:48 the first quarter:
Steptoe lies up at QB and takes the direct snap for a first down. A little trickery early. Could the playbook be opened up a bit more today?
13:16 the first quarter:
Cats move the ball very well the first three plays, but now face a critical 3rd and 12 at the USC 42. They throw an underneath screen that has no chance and are forced to punt. They blow a chance to pin USC deep when Folks punt sails 10 yards into the endzone. Last year the Cats were successful against USC because Danny Baugher was able to pin them deep on several occasions.
10:55 the first quarter:
So far it is too easy for USC. Booty has time to throw and the line is opening up holes for the RB's. The USC RB's appear to be very patient.
9:49 the first quarter:
Yaniv Barnett is not even suited for the game. Marcus Smith got the start at DT. On 3rd and USC opens a huge hole and gains six. The first drive as all been about short gains, but they are getting about 6-7 yards per play.
8:32 the first quarter:
Emmanuel Moody eschews the sure first down to try and get to the corner. A generous spot gives him the first but that was not a good piece of running. Had he turned up field he has a three-yard gain and a sure first down, instead he gets the first by the nose, but makes a freshman mistake.
7:38 the first quarter:
Booty slips and attempts to make a hand off, but the ball is on the ground. The ruling on the field is reviewed by the replay staff and it is ruled that the Oklahoma player touched the ball…no, they rule that Booty's knee hit the ground. On third down USC runs and they go for it on fourth and eight at the UA 32. Booty is clobbered by Holmes and Ronnie Palmer drops a potential interception that could have led to a long run. As it is the Cats take over on downs and have their first stop of the day.
4:40 the first quarter:
For the second consecutive possession the Wildcats are in USC territory, but can't do anything after they cross the 50. Tuitama is sacked on third and long and the Cats have to punt again. This time Folk's punt is fair caught inside the 10. USC will have to work from a long field.
1:36 the first quarter:
UC tries the reverse but Cason stays home and Patterson, the SC ball carrier, is forced into his own blocker and brought down for a minimal gain.
:29 the first quarter:
Syndric Steptoe only gains about six yards on a punt return, but it is the Cats' first punt return of the season. Every other punt was either fair caught or not fielded.
:15 the first quarter:
The Cats are tied with USC. That is not nearly as surprising as the fact that I have not made a "Booty" joke yet in this column.
14:10 in the second quarter:
Nick Folk is punting again and he is wearing a glove on his left hand. Why does he need a glove? Specifically, why does he need one glove? Does he have a softball game later on? Is getting a good grip with his left hand the secret to his punting technique? I'll probe for answers later.
Michael Shelton is in the game. It is his first appearance, but it means he will not redshirt. That likely means Marcus Smith stays inside all season. They also need more pass rush, a Shelton specialty.
13:44 in the second quarter:
Booty has all day to throw and fires a perfect strike to…Antoine Cason. Cats have the ball at the USC 32.
12:55 in the second quarter:
Jennings carries for about five, but the refs never blow the whistle and there is a scrum lasting about 15 seconds. By the end of the skirmish the pile moves back three yards, the ball is no where to be found and a lot of guys are talking smack. That is why you blow plays dead Mr. Official.
11:49 in the second quarter:
Arizona settles for a field goal, a player is late getting out into field goal formation and the field goal is blocked. Lawrence Jackson comes right up the middle (not the place the player came on late) and gets a hand on the ball in the backfield. After all is said and done USC has better field position than they did to start the last drive.
One bit of good news, holder Kyle McQuown has his first tackle of his Wildcat career. No word on if he ever had a tackle while at Idaho State.
One thing that is frustrating. On third down the Cats went deep, but to Anthony Johnson. He could get no separation from the DB and was nowhere near the pass. I'm not a football coach, but it seems to me that Johnson is not fast enough to be a deep threat.
10:04 in the second quarter:
USC is 3-5 on third down conversions. The Cats are 0-3.
9:39 in the second quarter:
Steve Smith hauls in a long catch on the USC sideling that is iffy. It is ruled a catch and USC rushes to get another play off before it can be reviewed. At the same time the Arizona coaches are doing everything in there power to make sure the officials upstairs review the play.
Five minutes have gone by and I have seen five angles and three look out of bounds and two look like Smith is in bounds. The officials rule him out of bounds and a 20+ yard gain is wiped out.
9:02 in the second quarter:
Third and long and the Trojans run the ball…and get the first. Moody gets some good blocking and rushes nine yards to keep the drive alive. They have converted 4-6 third downs now.
8:27 in the second quarter:
Cats hold on third and four and the Trojans will settle for a 34-yard field goal, which he nails although an Arizona rusher gets close to blocking it off the side. Cats trail 3-0.
7:55 in the second quarter:
The good Wildcat line play we saw on the first few drives is gone. USC is getting great penetration and is really stuffing the run now. The Cats may have to switch to quick hitters in the passing game to keep the defense honest.
7:14 in the second quarter:
Mike Thomas has a pass go right through his hands and it is picked off by Rey Maualgua. It was close to the ground when the USC LB picked it off, but it is not reviewed.
6:42 in the second quarter:
Cats get it right back two plays later when Chauncy Washington has the ball popped loose by Spencer Larsen. Louis Holmes recovers. He now has a sack, a hurry and a fumble recovery.
5:24 in the second quarter:
The line play is killing the Cats. Tuitama is being hit or hurried on every play.
4:37 in the second quarter:
Thomas bobbles another pass which costs him any chance of picking up a first down on third and long. He bobbled the pass, lost his footing and is about a yard short. They will punt and make USC play with a long field.
3:38 in the second quarter:
A great Nick Folk punt pins the USC at about the 15 AND USC picks up a personal foul. They will begin the drive at the eight.
2:41 in the second quarter:
Small Victory No. 1: John David Booty does not throw as well on the run as Willie T.
2:14 in the second quarter:
Dominic Patrick has missed two tackles behind the line of scrimmage ON THIS DRIVE. He makes up for it a bit by CRUSHING Moody a play after the second miss. This time it was five yards down field.
0:00 in the second quarter:
Arizona goes to the half down just 3-0. Last year it was 14-7 USC and the year before it was 14-3 USC. That being said the Cats are playing bend but don't break defense but can't get anything going on offense.
15:00 in the third
This drive could really set the tone for the second half. If SC scores they could gain a bit of confidence, but a stop by Arizona could get momentum on their side.
13:51 in the third
Washington is beating UCLA by 10, while Notre Dame is down to Michigan State by 10. Oh the irony.
13:05 in the third
USC faced third and two but converted their seventh third down of the game. They are 7-10.
12:30 in the third
USC has completed 10 passes but none for more than 14 yards.
12:06 in the third
Moody bursts into the open field but actually makes too many moves. He shakes and bakes, and then shakes and bakes some more. He picks up 40, but probably should have gone the distance if he just runs north/south.
11:13 in the third
The third review of the game. This one on an apparent Trojan touchdown. The official is right there to make the call and the replay appears to confirm that Steve Smith got a foot down but did he have control? The ball comes loose as soon as he hits the ground, but it is hard to tell if he had control while falling. It looks like he may not have had full control, but the angles are not great and it may be tough to overturn.
They rule in favor of the Cats for the second time. No score and the Trojans face another third down. This time third and goal from the seven.
11:01 in the third
Cats hold on third and short but SC will go for it. Fourth and goal from the three… 10:28 in the third
Booty with a nice play action and he hits a covered Dwayne Jarrett in the corner of the endzone. Jarrett used his body to shield Cason from the ball and got two feet down despite a nice shove by Cason. Jarrett has tied the Pac-10 mark for touchdown catches. E ties former Stanford standout Ken Margerum with 32 touchdown catches. The record has stood for over 25 years.
8:35 in the third
Arizona goes three and out. The offensive line is just not good. The Wildcat defense needs a rest and the Arizona offense can't move the ball. After a short Folk punt the Trojans will begin at their own 40, a short field for USC.
7:35 in the third
Just think, a week ago at this time Stephen F. Austin also had 10 points.
6:43 in the third
Arizona just cannot make the stop on third down. Unofficially they are 9-13 on third down.
3:50 in the third
The Cats only have 10 men on the field and are forced to call timeout. They would have had both Adrian McCovy and Xavier Kelley on the field at the same time on a third and long.
3:40 in the third
The Cats should have had the quick screen stopped, but Chris McFoy breaks a Michael Johnson tackle and runs for 10 more yards. Johnson has tackled poorly all season and it killed the Cats on that one.
Booty is starting to look a lot more comfortable. Not a good sign for the Cats.
2:22 in the third
Add a batted ball by Louis Holmes. He's having a nice night against a team that pulled out all of the stops to recruit him.
2:18 in the third
Mario Danelo misses a short field goal. Can the Arizona offense take advantage of the momentum swing? If Dannon Yogurt made a gelatin dessert would they call in "Danelo"
2:14 in the third
Tuitama throws a perfect strike to Johnson who is absolutely belted and can't hang on. I've been critical of Johnson's drops but he had no shot on that one. The DB's helmet hit right on the ball. I am actually surprised he got up from it.
1:10 in the third
Arizona converts their first third down of the game and gains only their fourth first down. Two of those first downs came on the first drive.
:25 in the third
Tuitama missed badly on two straight balls, but connects with Steptoe on third and 15 for a 20-yard gain and the crowd EXPLODES. The Cats have as many first downs on the drive as they did the entire game previous.
:00 in the third
The Cats are legitimately in this game but almost have to get a score on this drive. At the end of three quarters they trail just 10-0.
15:00 in the fourth
A sack to end the third and a penalty to start the fourth give the Cats third and 22. The Cats lose six on the draw play and face a third and 28.
14:14 in the fourth
A nice 17-yard completion gives the Cats some breathing room. Folk split the uprights with a 43-yarder but the officials rule USC called a timeout before the snap. He'll get to do it again.
14:05 in the fourth
Folk converts again. The Cats are within a touchdown. Last year at this very same point the Cats were down 14, but had already scored 21. USC has 257 yards of total offense, last season they had over 600 against the Cats. Maybe they miss Leinart, Bush and White a little bit?
In case you care, Matt Leinart is on the USC sideline, so is Nick Lachey apparently. There is not a Paris Hilton sighting or the point guard he dated at USC. However, there was a guy at Sam Hughes Place that looked a lot like Kurt Warner. Not sure he was tall enough, but he had the scruff and lantern jaw.
12:55 in the fourth
Arizona's tackling is not good. Three players missed Moody at the line of scrimmage but Larsen was there to pick them up about four yards down field. In fact about half of Larsen's tackles have come off of missed tackles up front. Maybe the Cats are purposely missing tackles to boost Spencer's stats. Anyone?
9:43 in the fourth
Thanks to another long Moody run the Trojans move deep into Arizona territory, but again come away with just a field goal. The Cats are down just two scores, but at this rate the offense does not look capable of scoring twice.
9:10 in the fourth
Another review. This time the refs rule that Mike Thomas was out of bounds. Another close call. It could honestly go either way. The students begin chanting "Oklahoma". Replay shows that his feet were in bounds, the only doubt is whether he had full control of the ball.
The replay officials overturn the call and the Cats are driving. No fewer than three replay calls have gone the Cats' way tonight, all three overturning rulings on the field.
8:33 in the fourth
It is all for naught. A personal foul and another sack gives the Cats fourth and 28. They almost have to force a turnover or a three and out if they want any chance of winning the game.
5:41 in the fourth
USC is taking their time. They have run five plays and run almost 3:00 off the clock.
4:59 in the fourth
Booty has a wide open Fred Davis over the middle and the junior tight end drops a sure touchdown.
3:40 in the fourth
The Cats hold on third and long and will get the ball back. Or they won't. Mike Thomas muffs the punt (on a fair catch) and USC recovers. Inexplicably, he was late getting out there.
3:11 in the fourth
Moody up the middle for a nine-yard score. This one is over, only the final margin is in doubt. It was a valiant battle, but the Cats just weren't good enough.