Top 10 moments, No. 4: The big blocked kick

Our series of the top 10 moments of the 2011 USC football season continues, concluding Friday with No. 1. Catch up on moments Nos. 5-10 here, including more than one Robert Woods touchdown catch and an especially courageous fourth-down call from Lane Kiffin.

Here is moment No. 4: Matt Kalil's blocked kick to seal the win over Utah and the touchdown return after it.

Would USC's season have gone the same way -- or even a reasonably similar way -- if Kalil didn't block Coleman Petersen's kick to win the Trojans' second game of the year against Utah?

Probably not.

With USC up 17-14 on the Utes with seconds left at the Coliseum, Petersen's 41-yard field-goal attempt to send the game into overtime was blocked by the 6-foot-7 Kalil and returned for a touchdown by Torin Harris.

It all happened so quickly -- except for the final score, of course. Because of a celebration penalty called on the Trojans during the return, it was announced as 17-14 until well after the end of the game, when the Pac-12 said Harris' touchdown would count.

We don't know what would have happened had the kick went in, but we know the game would have gone to overtime, and we know that overtime can be a bit of a crapshoot.

Imagine the Trojans starting the season 1-1. The backlash was bad enough when they started 3-1 after the loss to Arizona State two weeks later -- think about how much flak Lane Kiffin would have gotten if he lost to the Utes.

Another thing Kalil's block did: Establish USC as the country's top field-goal blocking team of the year and one of the best in recent memory, really. From then on, it was never really a surprise when the Trojans blocked a kick

And it happened a lot. Kalil alone blocked four on the year.

A special-teams play needed to be on the list. This is the best one and the most meaningful one, and, although another special-teams play will appear higher on this because of the game in which it occurred, this one was much more a USC-created play.

And, if Kalil ends up going as high in April's draft as most project him to, a legitimate portion of that draft status can probably be attributed to his kick-blocking ability.

Sort of like a receiver, running back or corner with proven return skills, Kalil has proven special-teams skills.

He can block kicks with regularity.

Check back Wednesday for moment No. 3, from the Oregon game.