CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

USC had the means, the opportunity — but where did motive come from?

Defying expectations, Trojans play with great emotion despite yet another coaching change, routing Fresno State 45-20. How'd that happen?

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Clay Helton

Clay Helton, USC's offensive coordinator and interim coach, holds the Las Vegas Bowl trophy after a 45-20 victory over Fresno State on Saturday. (Ethan Miller, Getty Images / December 21, 2013)

LAS VEGAS — USC deserves something for completing the strangest 10-win season in the history of college football.

How about some credit?

In the old days 10 wins got you a wire-service trophy and your team picture in the media guide.

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In 1974, former USC quarterback Pat Haden, now the school's athletic director, led the Trojans to a national title with 10 wins.

USC also won it all with 10 in 1932 and 1967.

SUMMARY: USC 45, Fresno State 20

This year's Trojan 10, though, came wrapped in a package that sort of looked like Pandora's Box.

Yet, the season most Trojans fans couldn't wait to be over ended with heel clicks and clinking glasses.

USC on Saturday soundly, almost absurdly, defeated Fresno State, 45-20, in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium.

The Trojans played with a purpose and passion that came from . . . where, exactly?

There seemed no logical reason for USC players to be whipped up in frenzy as they spontaneously chest-bumped during timeouts in a sub-level bowl game.

But it happened.

USC turned the shortest day of the year into Fresno State's longest day.

The question was . . . why?

Asked on the field what he'll remember about this season, sophomore tailback Javorius Allen said, "That we had three coaching changes. It was rough."

He said he learned to "never hold your head low because you never know what's going to happen."

Allen played Saturday's game "under" interim Coach Clay Helton.

"They overcame a third-string head coach today," Helton said.

Allen, and other Trojans, played the game "for" former interim coach Ed Orgeron.

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