Anthony Brown blocked a punt and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown, Jawanza Starling forced a key fumble, and No. 11 USC overcame an inconsistent offense in a 24-14 win over Washington in Seattle on Saturday.
Silas Redd rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown in the first half, and Matt Barkley added an 18-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Grimble as the Trojans continued rebuilding their résumé following last month's loss to Stanford that appeared to end their national championship hopes.
The Trojans were held scoreless in the second half and got needed help from a defense that sacked Keith Price five times and forced four turnovers to give USC its third straight win.
Barkley finished 10 of 20 for 167 yards, and Redd had 155 yards on 26 carries, his second-best game since transferring from Penn State. Curtis McNeal added another 58 yards on 11 attempts as the Trojans finished with 204 yards on the ground.
The 10 completions for Barkley were his fewest since 2010 at Oregon State when he hit just 10 of 19 passes.
"I wouldn't say frustrating. Obviously I want to pass the ball, but I'm happy with the win," Barkley said. "It wasn't a glamorous win, but if we're scoring and winning then I'm happy with that. Our ground game came today. Our defense was on fire forcing turnovers. It was a team win."
Defensively, the Trojans held Washington to 6 total yards in the second quarter and didn't give the Huskies a first down between the end of the first quarter and midway through the third quarter.
Brown then added the capper to a nearly flawless first half. USC was close on two previous punt attempts before Travis Coons went back to kick following a fourth three-and-out with five minutes left in the half.
Brown blew through the personal protectors in front of Coons and blocked the kick, then picked up the ball in the scrum and went the final 7 yards to give the Trojans a 24-7 lead.
Oregon State 42, BYU 24: Cody Vaz passed for 332 yards and three touchdowns in his first start since high school and the No. 10 Beavers used a strong start and a bigger finish to beat the Cougars in Provo, Utah.
Vaz was filling in for Sean Mannion, who is out indefinitely because of a left-knee injury.
"We have so many playmakers and I just have to get the ball into their hands," said Vaz, who completed 20 of 32 passes. "I knew I was capable of playing that way and I knew I had to come out and calm this place down, because it was a little rowdy. But this was a team effort."
Markus Wheaton caught two first-quarter touchdown passes and scored on a 12-yard reverse in the fourth, and cornerback Jordan Poyer returned an interception 49 yards to seal the victory.
UCLA 21, Utah 14: Brett Hundley passed for 183 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 68 yards and another score as the Bruins defeated the Utes in Pasadena.
Johnathan Franklin rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown for the Bruins, who bounced back from a blowout loss to Cal that knocked them out of the Top 25.
Shaq Evans caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from Hundley, who showed off his uncommon freshman poise while winning a duel with Travis Wilson. Utah's freshman quarterback passed for 220 yards in his first start, but the Utes lost their third straight.