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Arizona vs. USC final score: Wildcats hang tough, fall to Trojans 38-30

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Closer than most expected

Harry How/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats did not have a lot of high hopes surrounding them entering their matchup with the USC Trojans on Saturday.

But Arizona led for the majority of the game, taking a 20-17 lead into the fourth quarter. A poor decision from Rich Rodriguez to go for a fourth down at midfield ultimately cost the Wildcats, as the Trojans went on a 21-3 run before a late Arizona touchdown made the final score 38-30.

Here are some main takeaways from the game:

Nifty Nate: A big part of Arizona's offensive successes revolved around Nate Phillips, as he picked up six receptions for 94 yards, and this touchdown that started the scoring for the Wildcats.

The tale of third downs: Arizona has been brutal at defending third downs this season, and it didn't get any better against USC. The Trojans were able to convert 10-of-18 third down attempts. Arizona, on the other hand, was just 4-of-15 on third down.

The most important third down failure came while leading 20-17 when they couldn't convert on third-and-two. That led to this fourth down play, which led directly to a USC touchdown, and the Wildcats never leading again on the night:

Deadly David: David Richards has been a pleasant surprise all year, and this game was no exception. The senior hauled in a team-high nine catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. This is in stark contrast to Cayleb Jones, who did not catch a ball until there were ten seconds left in the game.

Scoring Skowron: Everyone knows what happened with Casey Skowron last year against USC. Well, he kind of redeemed himself, going 3-for-3 on field goals to go along with a trio of extra points. Those 12 points gave him 200 for his career, moving him to 7th on the school's all-time scoring list.

Redzone defense: For the first time since the first drive of the UTSA game, Arizona got a defensive stop in the red zone when USC missed a field goal. How does that even happen?

Jumping Jared: So Jared Baker missed a blocking assignment by a lot, but then did this to try and make up for it:

Next up: The Wildcats return home for Senior Night against Utah. That game starts at 8 PM MST on Fox Sports 1. They'll also be honoring Bob Baffert at that game, so it should be a fun night.