BYU vs. USC: A low-tech preview

<b>Game 2 in a series</b> <p> On the heels of an impressive, first-game 30-3 win over Georgia Tech last week in Provo, the Cougars enter the unfriendly confines of USC's Memorial Coliseum this weekend with cautious optimism against a Trojan team that finished last year ranked #3 in the polls.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an exclusive computer vs. computer PS2 simulation with exact scores and stats for ANYONE that replicates these games with updated team rosters -- whether you are a Cougar fan or not. We have pre-played BYU's upcoming season for Cougar fans waiting out the post-spring football doldrums. This article is part of a fantasy game-by-game summary and analysis with actual player names and stats provided.)

Meanwhile, the Top 10-ranked Trojans are still on a early season high after defeating Auburn 31-14 on the road last week.

With national attention focused on this high profile early season match up, the No. 32 Cougars (1-0) finally get a chance to show the country what they are, or aren't, made of in this nationally televised game.

This game, however, has more than national credibility or respect riding on the line. Former BYU Offensive Coordinator, Norm Chow, and former Cougar quarterback Steve Sarkisian now battle against BYU as USC's offensive coordinator and quarterback coach respectively.

Game time.

Boos fill Memorial Coliseum as the Cougars take the field in smoggy and hot Los Angeles. The ESPN broadcasting team again gives BYU little respect and picks USC to "rack up over 400 yards passing. This one won't even be close," says Lee Corso. Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit both agree as the team captains converge at mid-field for the coin toss.

Enough talk.

USC wins the coin toss and elects to receive. Matt Payne's kick is caught at the USC 3-yard line by Darnell Bing and returns it to the Trojan 37 yard-line. Chow's offense takes the field.

Unproven and untested quarterback, Matt Cassell, takes the field and completes a string of four consecutive passes. The Trojan offense to the BYU 43 where the Cougar defensive pressure has been neutralized so far. However, after a 1-yard run and two dropped passes, the Trojan offense stalls and is forced to punt at the BYU 42.

The Cougars start the drive at the their own 33 after a Tommy Huff punt is fair-caught by Thomas Stancil and Matt Berry and his offense take the field.

BYU learns quickly after their first three offensive plays that USC's defense is very good. BYU runs one yard up the middle with Marcus Whalen on the first play, followed by a Berry sack credited to USC Linebacker Melvin Williams. The ensuing pass is batted down by USC defensive back Kevin Arbet and the Cougars are forced to punt.

The Cougars special teams takes an early game hit as Matt Payne's punt of 63 yards is returned to the BYU 35-yard line by Justin Wyatt. The home crowd rises to their feet and cheer their Trojans as Matt Cassell trots onto the field for his second offensive drive.

Finally, the Cougar defense deliver their first turnover as Jernaro Gilford puts the sold-out crowd back in their seats as he picks off Cassell's first pass of the series and returns it to the USC 41.

Berry then hits tight end Daniel Coats on the ensuing drive and puts BYU in field goal range at the USC 34 yard line. After an unsuccessful reverse play and an incomplete pass intended for David Christensen, the Cougars are forced to kick a field goal. Payne's face lights up as he connects from 46 yards out.

Paynes ensuing kick-off goes out of bounds giving USC good field position at the Trojan 35. USC drives down to the BYU 32 after a 59-yard pass from Cassell lands in the hands of Mike Williams and kicks a field goal as the first quarter ends.

1st Quarter - BYU 3 - USC 3

The second quarter is somewhat uneventful as BYU and USC exchange punts through out the quarter. However, linebacker Colby Buckwoldt takes a hard blow to the shoulder and was forced out of the game early in the second quarter, allowing true freshman David Nixon a shot at playing time.

Nixon makes the most of his opportunity, proving to be a great fit in the Mendenhall scheme. He records 8 tackles, two for losses, and one pass deflection in the game.

USC moved into good field position right before the half, driving to the BYU 38 before JC transfer defensive back Walt Williams picks off a Matt Cassell pass with 1:09 remaining in the half. The Cougars run the clock out and head to the locker room.

Halftime - BYU 3 - USC 3

The Cougars start the second half trying to establish the run, using Whalen and Fahu Tahi and Stancil to pound the ball to the USC 47. The drive is stopped with a Berry interception by USC's Desmond Reed and he is tackled immediately at the USC 40.

BYU's improving defense forces another three-and-out. This time, Stancil delivers a huge play on Special teams, returning the Trojan punt to the USC 35. Whalen drives down to the USC 10-yard line where Berry connects with Bristol Olomua for a 10 yard touchdown strike with 6:54 remaining in the 3rd.

3rd Quarter - BYU 10 - USC 3

The Cougars start off the 4th quarter strong as BYU again forces Cassell to throw a poor pass under pressure. He is picked off again by Walt Williams, who showcases his 4.3 speed and returns it 61 yards for a second Cougar touchdown, giving BYU a 17 to 3 lead with 13:03 remaining in the 4th.

Wait a minute, could this be real? Unranked BYU defeating the No. 3 ranked 2002 Orange Bowl Champion?

However, USC responds with a time consuming drive and scoring on a full-back dive from 3-yards out, cutting the BYU lead to just 7 with 5:51 remaining in the game.

To the cheers of an inspired crowd, the Trojans force a three-and-out. The Cougars punt giving USC great field position at the USC 42. USC runs another time consuming drive before highly touted freshman Reggie Bush dives in to the end zone one yard out tying the score with 1:58 remaining in the game.

BYU have no time outs remaining. Time to see what the Cougars are really made of.

After a James Allen kick return to the Cougar 31, BYU's first two passes fall incomplete and are faced with a 3rd and 10 situation. Berry drops back and dumps the ball off two yards from the line of scrimmage to Rey Braithwaite who uses his speed to turn the ball up field for a 21 yard gain.

After the first down, the Cougars run three straight pass plays, which fall incomplete and are faced with a 4th and 10 situation with 1:03 remaining. Berry finds Braithwaite again for another 20-yard pick up.

The Cougars, threatening at the USC 29 with 31 seconds remaining in the game, are faced with another 4th and 10 situation, until Matt Berry scrambles for a crucial first down to the USC 12, running the clock down to 10 seconds.

The Cougars line up to spike the ball and stop the clock. But Berry looks up in time to find Chris Hale wide open in the end zone and rifles the ball into his hands for the game winning touchdown with just two seconds remaining in the game. The kick off runs the clock out as BYU players crowd the field and celebrates an amazing and unlikely victory.

Adds ESPN's Lee Corso" "Whoa, watch out! BYU came out today and felt they had something to prove. Not only did they do an outstanding job defensively, but they showed they can win it when it counts. This is a good football team."

Final Score - BYU 24 - USC 17

BYU ~ USC 1st Downs 13 17 Tot. Offense 281 380 Rush Yards 31-82 34-99 Comp-Att-TD 13-29-2 15-41-0 Pass Yards. 199 281 Sacked 1 1 3rd Dn. Conv. 4-14 (28%) 6-17 (35%) 4th Dn. Conv. 1-1 1-3 Redzone-TD-FG 3-2-1(100%) 3-2-1 (100%) Turnovers 2 3 Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0 Intercepted 2 3 Total Yards 374 404 T.O.P 27:21 32:39 M. Berry 13-29/199 yds. ~ 2 Td ~ 44% ~ 1 sack M. Whalen 13-80 yds ~ 25 yds after 1st Hit ~ 7 broken tackles B. Olomua 8 rec. 113 yds ~ 14.1 avg. R. Braithwaite 2 Rec ~ 41 yds. ~ 20.5 avg. D. Nixon 8 tackles ~ 2 TFL ~ 1 Pass Deflection W. Williams ~ 2 ints ~ 61 Yd. TD Int. Ret. J. Gilford ~ 1 Int.

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