SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah got off to the quickest of starts, but was soon overwhelmed by USC, eventually losing 38-28. The Trojans used big plays and adominant second-half to hand the Utes their second conference loss of the season.
It would be hard to script a better start of the Utes, who took a 14-0 lead with just 2:03 gone in the first quarter.
On just the second play from scrimmage, USC quarterback Matt Barkley scooped up an errant snap only to have it ripped out of his arms by Utah defensive end Nate Fakahafua. The sophomore then took it the remaining eight yards for the score.
Just five plays later, Star Lotulelei recovered another errant Trojan exchange -- setting up the Utah offense on the USC 13 yardline. Two plays later quarterback John Hays hit Kenneth Scott in corner of the endzone from 11 yards out to put Utah up 14-0.
The Trojans responded with an eight play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped off with a Silas Redd three-yard scoring run at the 7:12 mark. A short time later, Andre Heidari kicked a 32-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 14-10.
The Utes then put together their own long scoring drive -- taking it 81 yards in eight plays. Hays hit receiver DeVonte Christopher from 18 yards out for the touchdown -- giving Utah a 21-0 lead with 8:54 left in the second quarter.
The Trojans finished off the half by scoring consecutive touchdowns. Tight end Telfer Randall made a spectacular one-handed catch in the endzone from 23-yards out at the 7:54 mark before Barkley finished out the half with a six-yard touchdown throw to Robert Woods.
USC finished the first half with 190 yards of total offense to Utah's 183. Barkley went 12-15 for 141 yards and two touchdowns at the break with Utah's Hays hitting 13 of 22 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
The Trojans owned the second half of play -- controlling the clock and benefitting from long plays and a critical turnover that all but finished the Utes.
Utah was able to stunt several USC scoring bids in the third quarter, but couldn't prevent Marqise Lee from getting behind the defense to haul in an 83-yard touchdown catch to lead off the fourth quarter. The touchdown catch put USC up 31-21 with 12:10 remaining.
At the 9:30 mark Nickell Robey picked off Hays and returned it 38-yards for a touchdown. The play put the Trojans up 38-21 and sucked the wind out of Rice-Eccles stadium.
Utah was able to score on a Kelvin York three-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds remaining, but it was far too little to late as USC took the 38-28 win.
The Trojans finished with 420 yards of total offense to Utah's 304. Barkley finished with 23 of 30 passing for 303 yards and three touchdowns. Lee led all receivers with twelve receptions for 192 yards and a touchdown.
With the loss Utah falls to 2-3 on the year and 0-2 in Pac-12 play. It will next travel to Los Angeles to take on UCLA Oct. 13.