November 26, 2020
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 Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA, the site for last Saturday’s Alabama-LSU showdown sits empty as the pandemic ravages the football landscape.Photo courtesy of ESPN.


By Daniel Tom, Staff Reporter

After a Friday afternoon that was filled with game cancellations and last-minute matchups that were put together within an hour’s span, week two of the Pac-12 and week 11 of the college football season is in the books. Here’s a recap at what transpired over the weekend. 


Erik Kromenhok catches game tying touchdown pass vs. Arizona. Photo courtesy of John McGillen, USC Athletics.


Trojans use late game heroics, survive against Wildcats

Through two weeks of play, No. 20 USC has relied on two things: (a.) The tip drill and (b.) late game heroics. The Trojans had to once again rely on an offense that came alive late in the game to defeat Arizona 34-30.

Arizona held USC’s offense and quarterback Kedon Slovis in check for much of the game. Slovis completed 30 of his 43 pass attempts for 325 yards and a touchdown. However, up until the final two drives of the game, where he was 11 of 12 passing, he looked as if there was some discomfort in his passes.

Much like last week, there’s always something to point out that hasn’t changed. Against the Sun Devils, USC struggled to hold onto the football, committing four turnovers and getting pushed around by the defensive line. In this game, the story was penalties and capitalizing on red-zone opportunities.  In the second half, USC only managed to put three points on the scoreboard.

The lackluster 30 minutes of play in the second half resulted in an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 6-yard touchdown toss to tight end Erik Kromenhoek with 3:30 left. Valiantly, Arizona fought back but as the saying typically goes ‘the team with the ball last wins the game.’ 

Moments later, USC drove down the field and iced the game with an 8-yard touchdown of their own by Vavae Malepeai with 25 seconds left. The defense stood their ground in the final sequence, highlighted by sophomore Drake Jackson’s takedown of Arizona quarterback Grant Gunnell.

For USC to continue to compete for a conference championship, the undisciplined football and late game heroics cannot become a customary thing for fans to see each week. Although it’s a shortened season, each game now means something more. 

The Trojans turn the page, now 2-0 and head to Salt Lake City on Saturday night for a Pac-12 South Division battle with Utah, who has yet to see the field this season. 


Dorian Thompson-Robinson hurdles over defender in Bruins win over California. Photo courtesy of Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today Sports


UCLA: Bruins romp Cal in home opener.

After an up and down Friday afternoon, UCLA and Cal woke up on Sunday morning realizing there was a football game to be played prior to the day’s NFL slate. UCLA started out sluggish in the first quarter, adjustments were made and the Bruins improved their record to 1-1 after a 34-10 rout of California in their home opener at the Rose Bowl. With this win, the Bruins now own a .500 win percentage for the first time in Chip Kelly’s tenure as Bruins head coach.

After their first three plays on offense saw only limited yardage before a special teams miscue, Cal was set up for an opportunity to capitalize in the red zone. Fortunately, the UCLA defense made stops and limited the Bears to a field goal.

It was another decent game for quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson who completed 14 of his 26 passes for 196 yards, tossed three touchdowns on top of rushing for 52 yards and a score using his feet.

Another bright spot for the Bruin offense was the emergence of tailback Demetric Felton, who switched over from the wide receiver role a season ago. He has worked his way up to earn the starting role this season with the departure of Joshua Kelley to the NFL. In all, Felton got himself 25 carries for 107 yards and padded his stats by catching three passes for 28.

This game was a collective effort from the Bruins on both sides of the ball. Granted, both teams only had less than a day to game plan. Defensively, UCLA held Cal’s offense to just 3.6 yards per pass and less than two yards a carry on the ground. Additionally, the Bears were stopped twice on fourth down conversions and were grounded 10 times on third down, forcing them to punt.

In closing, this was a nice statement win for the Bruins. After being torn apart by Colorado a week prior and everything leading up to this game, it was nice to see UCLA playing with some emotion. Plus, this is a nice momentum builder for whatever the rest of the season holds.

UCLA looks to keep this momentum going into Saturday’s game as they head up to the Pacific Northwest and Autzen Stadium to challenge the No.11 Oregon Ducks.


 Hawai’i’s Chevan Cordeiro is rushed by SDSU’s (54) Caden McDonald. Photo courtesy of Derrick Tuskan, San Diego State Athletics.


San Diego State: Aztecs charge past Hawai’i

After an underwhelming performance against San Jose State, San Diego State looked to bounce back and make adjustments to get the sour taste of a loss out of their mouths. On this day, the Aztecs bounced back in a big way by using a powerful run game and shutdown defense to handily defeat Hawai’i 34-10 Saturday afternoon at Dignity Health Sports Park.

San Diego State was led in a big way by their run game as Greg Bell ran for a career-high 160 yards on 19 carries and limited the Warriors ground game to only 66 yards compared to 326. The win snapped a two-game losing streak to Hawai’i who had won the previous two meetings.

The offense couldn’t have all the fun though right? You guessed correctly!  SDSU’s defense forced three Hawai’i turnovers that they were able to capitalize off of. Redshirt freshman Kyron White forced a fumble on a muffed Warrior punt early in the second quarter which set up a touchdown drive three plays later. They later stopped a marching Hawai’i on a 71-yard house-call by senior safety Segun Olbi.

In addition to capitalizing on turnovers, the Aztecs defensive line led the way with seven sacks which tied its highest total set back in 2016 in a Las Vegas Bowl win over Houston.

In all, it was a dominant day for the Aztecs, who improved to 3-1 and remained in the hunt for a berth in the Mountain West Championship Game.

Their next opponent poses a test for the scarlet and black clad men as they head to Reno to duel with the Nevada Wolfpack on Saturday afternoon which should clear up the conference championship picture.

Final Thoughts:

No one said staging college football this year was going to be easy. Logistics and obstacles were expected to halt one of America’s greatest traditions this fall. But, move onward they said.

After the remainder of the college basketball season was cancelled in mid-March as the pandemic began its tour around the US, many people (including myself) questioned if a normal college football season would be happening. 

This past weekend, 15 games were postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreaks among programs. This slate included four games in the SEC and three of the nation’s top five ranked teams in No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Ohio State, and No. 5 Texas A&M respectively.

This was only the start to a domino effect that led to Arizona State cancelling their scheduled home game against Cal the day before due to positive tests among the program which included head coach Herm Edwards. Only hours later, UCLA had their matchup with Utah canned after the Utes had additional positives, after not playing the week prior. As a result, this set up the Bruins and Bears to throw down on Sunday morning.

This series of events puts into question if teams can finish the season without scholarship players on the roster or if postseason bowl games, including the college football playoff semifinal, can be played.

As the pandemic continues to hold the keys to normalcy, football fans remain optimistic that the season can finish as scheduled and see a national champion crowned in January.

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