Las Vegas Bowl 2013 Fresno State vs. USC: Live Game Grades, Analysis for Trojans

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2013

Nov 16, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler (6) celebrates after a 47-yard field goal by Andre Heidari (not pictured) with 19 seconds left against the Stanford Cardinal at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Stanford 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC 45, Fresno State 20—FINAL

USC (10-4) finished its tumultuous season on a high note, jumping out early and cruising to a win over Fresno State (11-2) at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

Final stats are available at

Check out our grading and analysis of the Trojans' big day in Sin City. 

USC Trojans Live Game Grades
Position UnitFirst-half gradeFinal grade
Pass OffenseAA
Run OffenseB+B+
Pass DefenseA-B+
Run DefenseAA
Special TeamsAA-
Las Vegas Bowl vs. Fresno State

Final game analysis for the USC Trojans:

Pass Offense: Cody Kessler (22-of-31, 344 yards, four TDs) and his line successfully navigated Fresno's constant blitz attempts, with the QB avoiding pressure to find Marqise Lee (118 yards, two TDs) and Nelson Agholor (94 yards, two TDs) open all day.

Run Offense: Javorius Allen (87 yards, two TDs) continued his great second half of the season, while Ty Isaac had some good runs as well. Mostly used to eat clock, the rushing game was very effective.

Pass Defense: Heavy pressure rattled Derek Carr in the first half and he never recovered. The secondary gave up some big plays in the second half, but all told was very good at limiting the damage.

Run Defense: Fresno rarely ran, but when it did it wasn't for much. USC gave this area minimal attention for a reason, but did stuff a fourth-down run early.

Special Teams: A muffed punt return by Agholor early in the second half marred an otherwise great effort, which included a blocked PAT and a snuffed fake punt.

Coaching: Clay Helton called a game worthy of getting him retained, exploiting his opponent's weaknesses and maximizing his strengths. Clancy Pendergast's game plan was also spot on.

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 21:  Nelson Agholor #15 of the USC Trojans is tackled by Dalen Jones #5 of the Fresno State Bulldogs during the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 21, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Get
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

First-half analysis for the USC Trojans

Pass Offense: Cody Kessler (243 yards, four TDs) has been able to take full advantage of one of the country's worst secondaries, while the patchwork offensive line is holding off Fresno's repeated blitz attempts. Marqise Lee, Nelson Agholor and others have been open all day.

Run Offense: Javorius Allen broke off a 24-yard TD run, but otherwise it's been a rather uneventful effort. It's eating clock, however, and helping to keep Fresno's offense off the field.

Pass Defense: An incredible effort by the entire unit, which is pressuring Derek Carr on every throw and forcing him to go almost exclusively with short passes. The longest reception has been for 19 yards.

Run Defense: The Trojans stuffed Fresno's one situational rush play, with Hayes Pullard stuffing Marteze Walker on 4th-and-3. Bulldogs have rushed only three times.

Special Teams: USC blocked a PAT, snuffed out a fake punt and successfully converted an onside kick, though that was overturned by a penalty.

Coaching: Interim coach Clay Helton is pulling out all the stops, taking risks and showing no fear. The staff is coaching like a unit that knows this is their last game together.


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