London’s injury dampens USC’s 41-34 victory over Arizona

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LOS ANGELES – Drake London caught nine passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the Coliseum field with a serious right leg injury late in the first half, dampening Southern California’s 41-34 victory over winless Arizona on Saturday night.

Keaontay Ingram rushed for 204 yards and a touchdown, and Gary Bryant Jr. caught two TD passes as the Trojans (4-4, 3-3 Pac-12) snapped their three-game home losing streak. They also extended the Wildcats’ epic skid to 20 games, the longest active slide in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the longest in Pac-12 history.

But London left the Coliseum field on a cart after injuring his right leg while making his second touchdown catch on a 6-yard pass from Jaxson Dart. London, who set an FBS record with 79 catches in his team’s first seven games this season, returned to the USC bench in the second half with a cast on his leg.

Anthony Pandy returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown early in the second half for Arizona (0-8, 0-5), which lost to USC for the ninth straight time despite a strong rally from a 21-point halftime deficit.

Will Plummer, who passed for 264 yards, rushed for a 16-yard TD with 12:50 to play. Arizona hit two field goals later in the fourth quarter, but Calen Bullock recovered an onside kick with 1:25 left to seal USC’s win.

Tayvian Cunningham caught an early 73-yard touchdown pass for the Wildcats, who scored at least 20 points for the first time in 11 games since last Nov. 21. They remained winless under rookie head coach Jedd Fisch.

Kedon Slovis and Dart threw two touchdown passes apiece while sharing time behind center for the Trojans. Slovis passed for 204 yards despite the pick-6, while Dart passed for 109 yards in his first appearance since getting hurt in his impressive debut at Washington State last month.

After Ingram scored on USC’s opening drive, Cunningham caught his long TD pass from Jamarye Joiner, the Arizona receiver who moonlights as a wildcat quarterback.

The Trojans came right back with Slovis’ 62-yard TD throw to Bryant. Slovis went 9 of 11 for 145 yards in the first quarter before he was replaced by Dart, the promising freshman who replaced an injured Slovis in Pullman and passed for 391 yards and four touchdowns before getting injured himself and missing the next month.

Dart immediately led a 96-yard drive capped by a short TD pass to London. After London got hurt, Slovis added another TD pass to Bryant 32 seconds before halftime.

THE TAKEAWAY

Arizona: This one was close, and signs of progress are there. The Wildcats posted their second-biggest point total during this losing streak. Plummer looked composed during the comeback. The defense tightened up in the second half. Matchups with Cal and Washington State in November look downright winnable.

USC: If London played his final collegiate snap in this game, the Trojans will lose one of the school’s best-ever receivers before he racked up the season-long accomplishments that would truly reflect his dominance. It would be yet another setback for a team trying to put together a decent finish before its new head coach is named.

UP NEXT

Arizona: Hosts California next Saturday.

USC: At Arizona State next Saturday.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.