Instant Analysis: USC 38, California 30

The USC Trojans led the California Golden Bears wire to wire in a 38-30 win, building a 31-9 halftime lead and never looking back. But it was, after all, #Pac12AfterDark, and the Bears made a game of it, coming up short on a late onside kick. Here’s how things went down at the Coliseum.

How the game was won: USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor woke up this morning and remembered he was playing Cal. You might remember him returning a pair of punts for touchdowns against the Bears in 2013. He had another huge game Thursday night, but ultimately, it came down to USC recovering an onside kick and running out the clock after Cal made it a one-possession game with 1:36 to play.

Game ball goes to: The aforementioned Agholor. He caught eight balls for 120 yards and a touchdown. Oh, that was just the first quarter! He finished with 16 catches for 216 yards and a pair of touchdowns while becoming the first USC receiver to ever record back-to-back 200-yard receiving games. Of course, you can’t mention a big receiving night without tipping your cap to the QB. Cody Kessler threw four touchdowns and an interception on 31-of-42 passing for 371 yards.

What it means: The Trojans keep pace with Arizona State, UCLA and Arizona in the Pac-12 title race -- though the Trojans need a little help. Click here to see all of the South Division scenarios. Cal, which has lost four of its last five, needs to find a win against either Stanford or BYU if it wants to get the postseason.

Best play: While the night belonged to Agholor from a receiving perspective, here's a pretty good pitch and catch from Kessler to George Farmer on a 32-yard strike to put USC ahead 14-0.


1Q USC C. Kessler pass,to G. Farmer for 32 yds for a TD, (A. Heidari KICK)

Cody Kessler pass complete to George Farmer for 32 yds for a TD (Andre Heidari KICK)

What's next: Rivalry games for both. The Trojans will be at the Rose Bowl to face UCLA on Nov. 22 in an elimination game in the Pac-12 South. The winner still has a shot at the division; the loser is out. For the Bears, they host Stanford in the Big Game with the winner possibly locking up bowl eligibility (pending the outcome of Stanford-Utah this weekend). It's been a few years since that game has had that much significance.