Oct 9, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans safety Chase Williams (7) makes a diving tackle on Utah Utes tight end Dalton Kincaid (86) during the second quarter at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Utah earns rare win over USC in Los Angeles

Cameron Rising passed for three touchdowns and rushed for a fourth, and Utah rolled on Saturday to its first win over Southern Cal in Los Angeles since 1916, 42-26.

Utah (3-2, 2-0 Pac-12) scored two touchdowns in the final 3:57 of the first half, igniting a 28-0 run that lasted until 10:04 in the fourth quarter.

Rising threw his first touchdown to Money Parks, a 12-yard connection that gave the Utes a 14-10 lead. Utah then forced a quick punt, thanks in part to a Mika Tafua sack, and moved into USC territory with gains of 13, 18 and 10 yards.

USC (3-3, 2-3) forced a fourth-and-one, but Rising found Devaughn Vele for a 37-yard touchdown off a flea flicker to put Utah ahead by two scores going into intermission.

The Utes bookended halftime with another scoring drive, capped with a 43-yard Tavion Thomas touchdown run. After Vonte Davis intercepted USC quarterback Kedon Slovis on the ensuing Trojans possession, Rising cashed in with a 17-yard touchdown rush for a 35-10 lead.

Rising went 22-of-28 passing for 306 yards, completing passes to nine different receivers. Thomas rushed for 113 yards on 16 carries.

USC’s Drake London surpassed 100 yards receiving for the fourth consecutive game and fifth time on the season, catching 16 passes for a game-high 162 yards.

London scored in the second quarter on a 20-yard connection with Slovis, who went 33 of 53 for 401 yards. Slovis threw his second touchdown, a 41-yarder to Malcolm Epps, in the final minute.

London’s score marked USC’s only touchdown on three trips to the red zone in the first half. The other two resulted in a Parker Lewis field goal of 28 yards and a 34-yard miss.

Vavae Malepeai scored on a two-yard carry in the fourth quarter for USC, but Utah answered with Rising throwing the last of his touchdowns to Dalton Kincaid.

Saturday marked the third consecutive home loss for USC, matching a Coliseum losing skid that closed out the 2018 campaign. The Trojans finished each of the last two seasons they lost three straight at home (2000, 2018) below .500.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) throws the ball up before Washington State Cougars linebacker Justus Rogers (37) can get to him in the second half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. The Trojans won 45-14. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: USC QB Jaxson Dart had surgery on meniscus

Southern Cal is down another quarterback.

Trojans true freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart underwent surgery to repair a meniscus injury and will miss “an extended period of time,” according to multiple reports Thursday.

Dart relieved starting quarterback Kedon Slovis last Saturday when Slovis injured his neck on USC’s first possession against Washington State. Dart set a program record for most passing yards in a debut — 391 — to go with four touchdowns and two interceptions as the Trojans won 45-14. He also led the team in rushing with 32 yards.

But Dart suffered a meniscus injury during the game, reportedly during the second quarter, and played through it.

Slovis returned to practice this week and is likely to resume No. 1 QB duties once healthy. Without Dart, the Trojans also have Miller Moss, a former Top 100 prospect.

USC (2-1, 1-1 Pac-12), which fired coach Clay Helton after a Week 2 loss to Stanford, hosts Oregon State on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) is checked out by medical staff during a game against the Washington State Cougars in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Report: USC QB Kedon Slovis (neck) expected to practice Monday

Southern California interim coach Donte Williams said he expects Kedon Slovis to practice on Monday after X-rays and an MRI on the quarterback’s neck came back negative, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday night.

Williams said he and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell will decide whether Slovis or Jaxson Dart will start the next game for the Trojans (2-1, 1-1), a Pac-12 matchup vs. Oregon State (2-1, 0-0) on Saturday.

Williams also would not rule out using two quarterbacks moving forward.

“If that’s what’s best to win games, then that’s what we’re going to do,” he told the Times.

Slovis, a junior, left Saturday’s 45-14 road win over Washington State early in the first quarter because of the neck injury. He suffered the injury on a sack by Andrew Edson and completed 1-of-2 passes for 8 yards.

Dart, a freshman, replaced Slovis and passed for 391 yards, setting a school passing-yardage record for a debut. He finished 30-of-46, with four TD passes, and was intercepted twice.

Slovis has 50 touchdown passes in 21 games (20 starts) for the Trojans. He has 5,910 passing yards and has thrown 17 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Aug 20, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) hugs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy during the second half of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy keeping focus on Ravens, not USC

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Thursday sidestepped questions about whether he has any interest in the head coach opening at Southern Cal.

“I am where my feet are,” Bieniemy told reporters, adding that his “job right now is to make sure that we’re preparing for this weekend’s opponent.”

The Chiefs (1-0) play the Baltimore Ravens (0-1) in Week 2.

“If USC reached out to me right now, my answer would be ‘I am preparing for this team to play against the Baltimore Ravens.’ That’s how I roll.”

The Trojans fired former coach Clay Helton earlier this week. Bieniemy was asked about the opening in the aftermath of an ESPN report pegging the longtime assistant as a candidate. Bieniemy went to high school in the Los Angeles area before playing collegiately at Colorado.

Bieniemy has interviewed for several NFL head coach openings but has yet to land one. Bieniemy has been an assistant with the Chiefs since 2013, first as running backs coach before taking over as OC in 2018.

He’s been an assistant coach at his alma mater two different times, first as the RBs coach (2001-02) and then as OC (2011-12). He also coached RBs at UCLA from 2003-05.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; General overall view of the 2017 Cotton Bowl logo on the back of the helmet of Southern California Trojans long snapper Jake Olson at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham, star fullback, dies at 71

Sam “Bam” Cunningham, a Southern California and New England Patriots fullback often cited as a positive force for the integration of football teams in the South, died Tuesday in Inglewood, Calif.

The cause of death was not yet known. He was 71.

Cunningham was an All-American for USC and was named the Rose Bowl MVP in January 1973, when he scored four touchdowns to lead the Trojans to a 42-17 win over Ohio State. That 1972-73 Trojans team went on to be named the unanimous national champion.

Earlier in his collegiate career, Cunningham, who was Black, helped USC pound Alabama 42-21 in the 1970 season opener by rushing for 135 yards and two touchdowns. The Crimson Tide varsity football team had not yet integrated, but did so the following season.

Longtime football coach Jerry Claiborne, an assistant on Bear Bryant’s staff at the time, went on to say, “Sam Cunningham did more for integration in 60 minutes than Martin Luther King did in 20 years.”

In a 2016 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Cunningham explained why he felt the truth was messier than that simple anecdote.

“That didn’t change how those white people thought of black people,” Cunningham said. “They were accepted because they could help their program win football games.”

Cunningham was the 11th overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft by the Patriots and played nine seasons for New England. He scored 43 rushing touchdowns in the NFL and remains the Patriots’ all-time rushing leader with 5,453 yards.

Cunningham, the older brother of longtime NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, was inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Patriots’ Hall of Fame in 2010.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of yet another loss to the Patriots family this week and our hearts ache for Sam Cunningham’s family and all who are mourning his passing today,” Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said. “Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham was one of my favorite players throughout the ‘70s and my sons all loved him.

“After I bought the team in 1994, it was my honor to welcome him back to the team on multiple occasions, recognizing him as a 50th anniversary team member and again for his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame.

“As much as I admired him as a player, my affection for him only grew after spending time with him and learning more about him as a person. He made a tremendous impact, both on and off the field, and was beloved by his teammates. As a Patriots Hall of Famer, Sam’s legacy and contributions will be preserved and celebrated forever, but today his loss is felt with heavy hearts.”

Others around the football world also paid their respects to Cunningham on Tuesday.

“Extremely saddened by the loss of a college football legend,” USC head coach Clay Helton tweeted. “As good a man as he was a player. Thank you Sam for being the example of what a Trojan should be. You will be missed but never forgotten.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA;   USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) sets to pass in the first half of the game against the San Jose State Spartans at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

No. 15 Southern California pulls away from San Jose State

Greg Johnson’s 37-yard interceptions return for touchdown punctuated a strong defensive effort from No. 15 Southern California, and the Trojans overcame San Jose State’s own stout defense to win their season-opener 30-7 on Saturday in Los Angeles.

USC (1-0) intercepted San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel twice, both of which led to Trojans’ touchdowns. Johnson jumped a route in the fourth quarter and streaked down the sideline untouched for a score with 11:42 remaining that effectively put the game away.

Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis finished 25-of-36 passing for 263 yards and no interceptions.

USC struggled to put distance between itself and reigning Mountain West Conference champion San Jose State (1-1), which went scoreless for the game’s first 37:35 but pulled to within 13-7 on Tyler Nevens’ 2-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter.

After Slovis threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Tahj Washington in the opening quarter, San Jose State, playing an aggressive defensive style heavy on blitz packages, kept the Trojans out of the end zone for the next 40:19 of game time. The Spartans recorded eight tackles for loss on the day and brought consistent pressure on Slovis with three quarterback hurries.

Viliami Fehoko sacked Slovis in the early fourth quarter to limit USC’s most promising drive since the mid-first quarter touchdown.

That score — set up after edge-rusher Drake Jackson intercepted Starkel at the San Jose State 39-yard line — looked like it was going to open the floodgates for the Trojans.

Slovis found Washington, who went over a Spartans defender to haul in the score and give USC a 10-point lead less than eight minutes into the game. The Trojans scored on a 27-yard Parker Lewis field goal just 2:39 earlier.

But USC’s inability to complete drives relegated it to three Lewis field goals, all attempted in the red zone.

The Trojans finally broke through for another offensive touchdown when Slovis found a sliding Erik Krommenhoek for a 20-yard score with 2:07 remaining.

USC’s Drake London caught a career-high 13 passes for 144 yards, and Washington hauled in four passes for 56 yards.

Keaontay Ingram rushed for 86 yards, and USC totaled 423 yards as a team.

San Jose State totaled 356 yards, with Starkel’s 308 yards on 24-of-46 passing leading the way. The Spartans finished just 1-of-3 on red-zone opportunities.

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Reggie Bush at NFL Network press conference at  Georgia World Congress Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Heisman Trust: Reggie Bush decision is NCAA’s call

The Heisman Trust deferred to the NCAA Friday regarding Reggie Bush’s request to reinstate his 2005 Heisman Trophy.

“The Heisman Trophy ballot used by voters has a rule governing eligibility for the award, which was in effect in 2005, which states: ‘In order that there will be no misunderstanding regarding the eligibility of a candidate, the recipient of the award must be a bona fide student of an accredited college or university including the United States Academies. The recipient must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student athlete,’” the Heisman Trust’s statement read.

“Bush’s 2005 season records remain vacated by the NCAA and, as a result, under the rule set forth by the Heisman Trust and stated on the Heisman Ballot, he is not eligible to be awarded the 2005 Heisman Memorial Trophy. Should the NCAA reinstate Bush’s 2005 status, the Heisman Trust looks forward to welcoming him back to the Heisman family.”

When the NCAA’s interim policy allowing college athletes to capitalize on name, image and likeness rights went into effect Thursday, Bush put out a formal statement seeking his records from his days at USC, including his Heisman, be reinstated.

Bush and his family received money and other illicit benefits from sports marketers while he starred at running back for USC.

When the improprieties were uncovered in 2010, the school was sanctioned and Bush forfeited his trophy.

But Bush has argued that not only are the rules he broke now null and void, they did not impact his ability to win the Heisman as the most outstanding college football player in the country.

“It is my strong belief that I won the Heisman Trophy ‘solely’ due to my hard work and dedication on the football field and it is also my firm belief that my records should be reinstated,” Bush said in a statement issued by EAG Sports Management.

Bush also said that he tried to get in contact with the Heisman Trust himself, but was told that the trust’s president, Michael Comerford, did not plan to return his calls.

In its statement, the Heisman Trust added that it supported any legislation that allowed college athletes to control their NIL rights.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2020; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Chase Griffin (11) runs the ball during overtime against the Stanford Cardinal at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

USC, UCLA to have full stadiums this fall

USC and UCLA have each announced plans to open their football stadiums to 100 percent occupancy this fall in the wake of California announcing a “full-scale” reopening Tuesday.

What that means in a sporting sense is all venues in the state can return to full capacity effective immediately, prompting each university’s announcement.

A more cautious approach to openings during the COVID-19 pandemic has been par for the course for schools in California, and for the state itself. That makes this announcement more noteworthy than most, though infection rates have been on the decline in the state as vaccination rates have risen. A reported 40.7 million doses have been given in California to date.

“We are excited to welcome back students, alumni and fans to the Rose Bowl and our other outside sporting events,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said. “Getting the COVID-19 vaccination is strongly encouraged to provide the safest environment for everyone. We will continue to follow local and state health and safety protocols in order to maintain a safe environment for our fans.”

“We are beyond excited to welcome the Trojan Family back to the Coliseum for the first time since 2019,” said USC AD Mike Bohn in a statement. “Our home games were not the same last year, and the gameday experience at the Coliseum is so special primarily because of the fans. Our players and coaches can’t wait to see fans and family in the stands and that energy is a difference-maker for us on the field.”

USC home games have a full capacity of 77,500 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, while the Rose Bowl can seat up to 80,000 fans.

The college football season gets underway in Los Angeles Aug. 28 with UCLA’s opener against Hawaii at the Rose Bowl. USC opens play at the Coliseum Sept. 4 against San Jose State.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; General overall view of the 2017 Cotton Bowl logo on the back of the helmet of Southern California Trojans long snapper Jake Olson at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Top recruit Domani Jackson commits to Southern Cal

Five-star cornerback Domani Jackson, the nation’s third-ranked prospect in the 2022 class, is staying close to home to play college football.

Jackson, a standout from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., said he will attend Southern California, marking the second straight year the Trojans have received a commitment from the state’s top prospect.

Jackson chose the Trojans over Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan and Arizona State, among others.

Earlier Saturday, however, Mission Hills, Calif., linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka decommitted from the Trojans. Tuihalamaka is the third-ranked ILB in the class of 2022, per 247Sports’ composite rankings.

Jackson’s commitment is a major boost for coach Clay Helton, who signed the nation’s 54th-ranked recruiting class this cycle, which included just one ESPN 300 commitment — receiver Gary Bryant.

Southern California initially had the commitment of Bryce Young, the nation’s top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 class, but he decided to enroll at Alabama, where he just completed his freshman season.

However, USC signed nine ESPN 300 recruits in the 2021 class, including Korey Foreman, a five-star defensive end. The Trojans are also in the mix for highly-regarded linebacker Raesjon Davis, who is uncommitted.

Jackson’s commitment gives the Trojans two top players in the 2022 class, along with cornerback Fabian Ross. Jackson is rated No. 3 overall by 247Sports’ composite rankings.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; General overall view of the 2017 Cotton Bowl logo on the back of the helmet of Southern California Trojans long snapper Jake Olson at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Former Trojans lineman Marv Marinovich dies

Former Southern California two-way lineman Marv Marinovich has died, the school announced. He was 81.

USC said Marinovich died Thursday in Mission Viejo, Calif., of natural causes.

Marinovich was a captain on the Trojans’ 1962 national championship team. He earned letters for USC in 1959, 1961 and 1962 while playing on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Marinovich played in one NFL game in 1965 for the then-Oakland Raiders.

Marinovich’s son, Todd, also played at USC (1989-90) and for the Raiders (1991-92). Marv Marinovich, who also was a strength coach, drew criticism for his rigorous training of Todd, who was a first-round draft choice by the Raiders but played in just eight games and struggled with drug addiction issues.

According to reports, Marv Marinovich was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018.

Mikhail Marinovich, another son, played on the defensive line for Syracuse from 2008-11.

–Field Level Media