LOS ANGELES—USC has three victories this season, all starring a different Trojans quarterback. First, JT Daniels is lost for the year in their opener against Fresno State. Next, backup Kedon Slovis leads a comeback victory over Stanford. On Friday night, Slovis gets knocked out of the game with a head injury on the second play from scrimmage, third stringer Matt Fink stepped easily into the role of hero leading USC to a must win victory over the No. 10 Utah Utes, 30-23 on Friday, September 20 at the iconic Coliseum.
The improbable victory puts USC back in the competitive PAC-12 race, while cooling the hot seat for USC Head Coach Clay Helton for the time being.
Fink was clearly unfazed by the pressure; engineering an impressive drive culminating in a deep touchdown pass to Tyler Vaughns, taking an early 7-0 lead. Fink threw for 351 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the junior’s first career start.
“I don’t think this moment was too big for me,” said Fink. “Getting in today showing them what I can do, this is what I wanted to do by staying here.” Fink was extremely close to transferring to the University of Illinois this Spring, before deciding to remain at USC.
Speaking on behalf of every USC fan, Fink made the right decision. The ground game was non-existent, putting up a measly 12 yards on the ground.
The Trojans defense had a penchant for making the big plays in crucial situations-forcing a fumble near the goal line preventing the Utes from grabbing the lead before halftime-Drake Jackson sacking Utah Quarterback Tyler Huntley for a safety in the fourth quarter.
USC improves to 3-1 overall, 2-0 in the PAC-12. The hard fought victory was a slice of redemption after last week’s gut-wrenching, 30-27 overtime loss at BYU. Trojans Wide Receiver Michael Pittman Jr. was remarkable, hauling in 10 receptions for 232 yards and a touchdown.
The thrilling game featured numerous storylines. Fox analyst and former USC star Running Back Reggie Bush made his first return to the Coliseum since 2010. When Running Back Markese Stepp iced the game with a 4-yard TD run, extending the lead 30-20, he celebrated with Bush. Sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Next week, USC travels north to face the No. 22 Washington Huskies. The night belonged to Matt Fink, wonder what he will do for an encore?