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USC Football Highlights: Trojans Survive Final Showdown vs Rival Cal in Weirdest Game of 2023 Season

What just happened?
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The final matchup in the storied USC Trojans vs. California Golden Bears rivalry started about eight minutes late on Saturday due to protesters on the field. Then, once the game kicked off, the Trojans decided to protest playing defense.

Playing against a Cal team that averaged 29.9 points per game and 407.3 yards per game coming into the matchup, the Trojans allowed the Bears to score 49 points and accumulate 527 total yards of offense.

Somehow, some way, though, the Trojans were able to stay in the game, and despite entering the 14 minute mark of the fourth quarter with a two-touchdown deficit, were able to come out on top thanks to a late, go-ahead rushing touchdown by Austin Jones and a missed two-point conversion by the Bears.

But this win was far from easy.

The Trojans jumped out to an early 3-0 lead thanks to a long drive that ended in a 24-yard field goal by Dennis Lynch.

Then, a Cal fumble turned into a Marshawn Lloyd rushing touchdown, and USC was up 10-0 in the blink of an eye.

A 43-yard rushing touchdown by Bears RB Jaydn Ott punctuated the Bears' first strong drive of the game, but USC responded with a touchdown of their own, courtesy of a Caleb Williams passing touchdown to Austin Jones to make it 17-7 Trojans.

The next Cal drive lasted just three plays, as the third one watched Ott break open for another 61 yards and a touchdown.

Then, the Bears got a stop, and ended their next drive in a four-yard rushing touchdown from Ott, his third of the day.

Cal would then score again before the half, and went into halftime 28-17 — or so we thought.

USC head coach Lincoln Riley lingered on the field talking to officials, and after a long discussion, it was determined that USC would have one final play of the first half before opening the second half coming out of the locker room.

Lynch came on for a field goal to end (but also begin) the half, and missed it — because of course he did.

To open the second half, the Bears turned it over on downs, and USC responded with a quick drive that ended in a Williams rushing touchdown. But a missed two-point conversion kept the game at 28-23 Bears.

A few drives later, the Trojans scored thanks to a Williams to Brenden Rice touchdown, but had a holding penalty on the two-point conversion, and had to settle for a longer extra point — which Lynch missed.

The Bears would then score and get the two-point conversion to go up 36-29, and then scored again to open the fourth quarter to give them a 43-29 lead.

Then, USC scored back-to-back rushing touchdowns by Williams and Lloyd, respectively, before chaos ensued.

The Bears fumbled to set USC up at midfield in a tie game. Then the Trojans fumbled to set the Bears up at midfield in a tie game.

Then the Bears went for it on 4th and 6 and saw the Trojans drop an interception and then the Bears drop the potential catch on that same play.

The very next play after that chaotic 4th and 6 was a massive 56-yard run by Marshawn Lloyd, setting up the go-ahead touchdown for USC courtesy of Jones.

Then, the Bears got the ball back, and marched down the field to get what would have been the game-tying touchdown with the PAT. However, the Bears elected to go for the two-point conversion, and didn't get it.

The Bears attempted an onside kick, the Trojans recovered, and that marked the end of likely the weirdest game of the 2023 season in College Football.

The Trojans escaped Cal with a win in their last matchup in this historic rivalry, but it's hard for them to feel good about this victory against a 3-4 Bears team.

At the very least, the Trojans leave Cal at 7-2, and end their ugly two-game losing streak.