USC takes care of No. 21 Fresno State, wins Las Vegas Bowl

Updated: December 21, 2013

Las Vegas, NV ( – Clay Helton’s reign as USC’s head coach
may be a brief one, but he was able to do what his two predecessors this
season failed to accomplish — win his final game.

With Cody Kessler tossing four first-half touchdown passes and the defense
shutting down national passing leader Derek Carr for much of the day, the
Trojans set a foundation for a promising new era with a dominating 45-20
victory over 21st-ranked Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Kessler added a career-high 344 passing yards while hitting on 22-of-31
attempts to outshine the more-heralded Carr and end the Trojans’ tumultuous
season on a very high note. Marquis Lee and Nelson Agholor each hauled in two
of the quarterback’s scoring strikes, with Javorius Allen lending a pair of
touchdowns on the ground in the rout.

USC (10-4) enters new head coach Steve Sarkisian’s debut season having won
seven of its final eight games and went 8-2 after Lane Kiffin’s dismissal in
late September. Much of that success came under Ed Orgeron, who left the
program after being passed over for Sarkisian to elevate Helton from offensive
coordinator for the bowl game.

Lee, playing in what’s expected to be his final game before declaring for the
NFL Draft, finished with 118 yards on seven catches.

Carr, meanwhile, managed just 217 yards and two touchdowns with an
interception on 29-of-54 passing against the Trojans’ airtight pass defense.
The senior standout entered the matchup having put up 400 or more yards in
four of his last five outings.

After making a case for a possible BCS bowl berth late in the season, Fresno
State (11-2) dropped two of its last three games and was outclassed by the
more athletic Trojans from virtually start-to-finish.