BOULDER, Colo. – Sam Darnold has seen plenty of what cornerback Ajene Harris can do in practice. He’s just thankful he doesn’t have to face him when it counts.
Darnold tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another, Harris intercepted two passes, including one he returned for a score, and No. 15 Southern California beat Colorado 38-24 on Saturday to wrap up the Pac-12 South title.
“Always good to have someone like him on defense,” Darnold said.
The same can be said of Darnold – on offense, of course – after he threw for 329 yards and improved to 18-3 as a starter.
“I’ve really enjoyed his leadership, whether it’s good times or bad,” USC coach Clay Helton said. “When you’re the quarterback at USC and to have that much pressure on you and do it with so much class and character on a weekly basis, whether things are going good or bad, and perform for his brothers? He’s the definition of believing in the team’s success over individual success.”
USC (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12, CFP No. 11) led 27-0 in the third quarter, but needed to weather a late Colorado comeback. The Trojans blocked two field goals to move to 12-0 against the Buffaloes (5-6, 2-6).
Juwann Winfree had a big day for Colorado by hauling in TD passes of 79 and 57 yards.
A pivotal play in the game was when Colorado tried to get something going with about a minute left before halftime and down 14-0. Montez forced a pass to the outside that Harris stepped in front of, tip-toed along the out-of-bounds line and headed into the end zone.
Harris had another interception in the fourth quarter that nearly went for a score. As he was being tackled, Harris pitched the ball to Marvell Tell III, who took it about 27 yards for a TD. The replay booth took a look and ruled that Harris’ knee was down before the pitch.
“It would’ve been real sweet for the whole squad,” Harris said. “What a great win for us.”
USC will play in the conference title game on Dec. 1 in Santa Clara, California. The representative from the north remains up in the air.
“There’s still a lot out there that we have to get ready for,” Helton said. “We’re going to celebrate tonight and go back to work tomorrow.”
UCLA 44, Arizona State 37: Josh Rosen threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Lasley on the first play of the fourth quarter and the Bruins (5-5, 3-4 Pac-12) defeated the Sun Devils (5-5, 4-3) in Los Angeles.
Rosen was 25 of 45 for 381 yards with one touchdown and one interception and scored on a 1-yard run as the Bruins outscored the Sun Devils 10-3 in the fourth quarter.
Bolu Olorunfunmi ran for 79 yards and one touchdown, Soso Jamabo had a 21-yard touchdown run, and Nate Meadors returned an interception for a touchdown to help UCLA remain undefeated at the Rose Bowl this season.
Manny Wilkins threw for 290 yards, one touchdown and one interception and also ran for a touchdown for the Sun Devils, who had won two straight in the series. Demario Richard had 125 of Arizona State’s 294 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Arizona 49, Oregon State 28: Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate ran his streak of 100-yard rushing games to six, finishing with 206 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, and the Wildcats (7-3 overall, 5-2 Pac-12) defeated the Beavers (1-9, 0-7) in Tucson, Arizona.
The Wildcats ran for a school record 534 yards, with three players going over 100 yards.
Tate had a 19-yard second-quarter touchdown run in which he bowled over a would-be tackler in the open field on his way to the end zone. He also sprinted 71 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter.
Arizona and Tate hardly needed to throw the ball, as the ground game racked up 384 yards by halftime with Nick Wilson, Zach Green and receiver Tony Ellison running for touchdowns in the first half.
Green ran for a pair of scores, one in each half. J.J. Taylor rushed for 129 yards and Wilson, a senior playing in the final home game of his career, added 101.
Tate accounted for 65 yards of an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to open the game. The Wildcats have won five of six.
Oregon State has lost eight straight. The Beavers were held scoreless until the opening drive of the second half, which ended on Darell Garretson’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Noah Togiai.