Sunday's roundup: Utah victory only adds to USC's late-game troubles
Salt Lake City — Travis Wilson gave Utah its biggest victory since joining the Pac-12 four years ago — and earned a little job security, too.
Wilson threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Kaelin Clay with 8 seconds left to give No. 19 Utah a 24-21 victory over No. 20 Southern California on Saturday night.
"It's so amazing," Wilson said. "Words can't really describe how I'm feeling right now."
The 6-foot-7 Wilson lost the starting job to Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson last week before taking over in the second half in a 29-23 double-overtime victory at Oregon State.
Wilson put the Utes (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) in position for the winning touchdown when he was flushed from the pocket and scrambled 19 yards, diving as he approached the goal line. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but was overturned on review — giving Utah the ball a foot from the end zone.
"I was actually just headed toward the sideline but I saw a little bit more room and I made an extra effort to get the end zone," Wilson said.
Devontae Booker was stopped just short on the next play before Wilson's touchdown pass to Clay on a sprint-out to the right side — a catch that also was reviewed before it was confirmed.
"I'm so emotional right now," Clay said. "I grew up cheering for USC and to score the winning touchdown against them is really special."
After Adoree' Jackson returned the kickoff to the USC 28, the Trojans' last-gasp effort was snuffed when Cody Kessler was sacked by Nate Orchard and Hunter Dimick on the final play.
"That was a gut-check," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, whose team is bowl eligible for the first time in three seasons. "USC is one talented team, probably the best talent man-for-man in the conference, but we slugged it out with them for 60 minutes."
Black-clad Utes fans streamed onto the field around some of the Trojans players, who stood motionless, stunned at another last-second loss.
"That's our season right now," USC coach Steve Sarkisian said. "We're living and dying by these moments. It obviously hurts a lot when you lose the way we lost tonight."
Southern California dropped to 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the Pac-12. USC lost to Arizona State on a Hail Mary play and escaped with a victory over Arizona when the Wildcats missed a last-second 36-yard field goal.
Wilson was 18-for-32 passing for 194 yards and Booker had his fourth straight 100-yard game with 102 yards.
"I'm speechless right now," Booker said. "We came out here tonight and it started rough, but we came back and fought our butt off to win this game."
Kessler completed 24 of 32 attempts for 264 yards and Javorius Allen ran for 101 yards, but the Trojans couldn't convert a late fourth down after opting not to kick a field goal with a 21-17 lead.
Auburn hangs on
The Auburn Tigers didn't pull off another Kick-Six or Immaculate Deflection, but they still seem to have a knack for dramatic victories.
The fourth-ranked Tigers, who lived on the edge much of last season, survived a Hail Mary pass on the last play to hold on for a wild 42-35 victory over South Carolina Saturday night. It was a familiar feeling for Auburn, which now travels to No. 7 Mississippi for the latest SEC West showdown.
It was also the culmination of a game when the Tigers (6-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) made costly penalties, gave up five fourth-down conversions and an onside kick and somehow managed to escape with their championship hopes intact.
"We found a way to win games late last year and we still feel that same way about this team," Auburn tailback Cameron Artis-Payne said. "We feel like if it's tight in the fourth quarter we will find a way to win."
South Carolina deserved chance
The Southeastern Conference says South Carolina (4-4, 2-4) should have gotten a second chance at a Hail Mary against Auburn.
SEC spokesman Chuck Dunlap confirmed Sunday that the Tigers should have drawn a 5-yard penalty for having two players with the same number on the field for the final play. Dunlap says the violation was discovered well after the game.
Sparks moves up
Carson-Newman coach Ken Sparks broke a tie with Bear Bryant for sixth place on the NCAA victory list, reaching 324 in the Eagles' 35-34 win over North Greenville.
Sparks, in his 35th season at Carson-Newman, improved his career record to 324-87-2. John Gagliardi is No. 1 with 489 wins.