Williams throws for 5 TDs, No. 10 USC outlasts Arizona

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TUCSON, Ariz. – Caleb Williams was without two of his top targets and it did nothing to slow him down. Same for the rest of Southern California’s talented offense.

Williams threw for a career-high 411 yards and five touchdowns, and No. 10 USC overcame injuries to several key players to outlast Arizona 45-37 on Saturday night.

“You get to spread the ball around a little bit more and the other team can’t key on on anybody,” said Williams, who completed passes to 10 different receivers. “Those guys stepped up and I just tried to put the ball where they could make catches.”

The Trojans (7-1, 5-1 Pac-12) had an extra week to shake off their first loss of the season, an emotional 43-42 setback at No. 14 Utah.

The time off wasn’t enough for several USC players to heal. Receivers Jordan Addison and Mario Williams, left guard Andrew Vorhees and linebacker Eric Gentry were among the numerous players unable to play.

The injuries led to a few breakdowns on defense, but did little to slow the offense.

USC racked up 621 total yards and converted 11 of 17 on third down to match its best start since 2008. The Trojans have won 10 straight against Arizona.

“The number of things that didn’t go our way was a long list and I don’t know many teams that would respond like this,” USC coach Lincoln Riley said.

The Wildcats (3-5, 1-4) struggled defensively, but nearly kept up with USC offensively, finishing with 543 total yards.

Jayden de Laura threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns to Dorian Singer, the last a 5-yarder that cut USC’s lead to 45-37 with 1:26 left. USC recovered the onside kick to seal the victory.

“I thought our offense was going to do well, their offense was going to do well and we were not disappointed in that,” Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said. “We are getting better and that was a step in the right direction.”

Arizona kept it close most of the night.

Singer had a spectacular 23-yard touchdown catch from de Laura, fending off a defender to snare it one-handed, and Tyler Loop kicked two field goals.

Williams had a pair of first-half touchdown passes, but the Trojans also missed on some good scoring opportunities.

USC settled for an early field goal, had a touchdown pass called back on a holding call, which was followed by a badly missed 56-yard field goal.

More potential points were lost after reaching Arizona’s 10-yard line just before halftime. The Trojans ran up to spike the ball, but the officials started the clock before spotting it and time ran out, leaving Riley incensed.

“I probably didn’t give them a whole lot of time for an explanation and then after we talked, they admitted that they messed it up,” Riley said. “And still my question was, why wasn’t play stopped and review it?”

Williams found Tahj Washington on a 3-yard touchdown to open the third quarter, then hit him again on a 47-yard score as he was being hit to put USC up 31-16.

Arizona closed to 31-29 on de Laura’s 19-yard TD pass to Singer and Michael Wiley‘s 10-yard TD run on an option.

USC finally stretched the lead after that. Williams hit Kyle Ford on a 5-yard touchdown to open the fourth quarter and Travis Dye leaped in for a 2-yard TD run to make it 45-29.

Arizona managed to pull within eight, but came up just short of the upset.

WATCHING SINGER

Singer went into Saturday’s game as Arizona’s second-leading receiver. He may be its leader in spectacular catches, like the impressive TD in the first quarter.

“There are plays he makes I don’t even know what to say about, really. They’re tremendous,” Fisch said. “One-handed catch falling backwards with his left hand – there’s some things that are just cool.”

THE TAKEAWAY

USC had a hard time shaking the Wildcats and had some breakdowns defensively with several key players out, but pulled out a tough road win to stay in the thick of the Pac-12 championship race.

Arizona was able to keep it close most of the night behind de Laura and the offense. The Wildcats’ defense, a weak spot most of the season, let the upset slip through their fingers.

UP NEXT

USC hosts California next Saturday.

Arizona plays at No. 14 Utah next Saturday.

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”