Pac-12 officiating mishap among takeaways from USC’s win

USC top receiver Jordan Addison stood on the sidelines of Arizona Stadium in street clothes. Nearby, the receiver who was expected to step in seamlessly in his place, Mario Williams, would never take the field. He wore pads and a uniform but suffered a surprise late scrape from a pre-game injury.

Their absence left the Trojans with no obvious answers at Wideout, where their top two targets accounted for 42.5% of the team’s receptions. But instead what could have been a nightmare scenario ended on a career-best night for Caleb Williams as USC defeated Arizona 45-37.

Kyle Ford decided to break out before knowing that Addison and Williams would no longer be in the lineup. Two weeks ago, just after USC suffered its first loss of the season in Utah, Ford called Caleb Williams and told the quarterback he was going to make a difference.

“He didn’t say anything more,” Williams said. “He wants to be on the pitch. He wants to make those catches for me and he got his chance.”

Ford made the most of it on Saturday, catching six passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Coming a long way back from two cruciate ligament tears, Ford described his accomplishment as “a huge blessing for me.”

“It’s a lot of work, a lot of ups and downs of what I’ve been through,” said Ford, “but at the same time I know I can do this. It wasn’t really a surprise to me. I know I can help my team like I did tonight.”

He wasn’t the only surrogate recipient to make a statement. Tahj Washington led the team with seven catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Brenden Rice caught his first touchdown at USC with a toe-tapping score in the back of the end zone. Kyron Hudson, Michael Jackson III and Terrell Bynum also had multiple catches.

“They just got up and made some big plays and we had to have them,” USC coach Lincoln Riley said. “Once you have two of your top receivers out, test the depth of your group. And our group responded.” Pac-12 officiating mishap among takeaways from USC’s win

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