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The Sports Report: USC football has a new coach: Lincoln Riley

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley talks with players
New USC football coach Lincoln Riley.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Ryan Kartje on USC football: One of the top coaches in college football is on his way to L.A.

USC is closing its three-month search for a new head football coach with a bombshell hire, landing Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley to turn around the Trojans program.

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USC fans have been waiting for years for the school to bring in a coach that can restore its treasured football program to glory. In Riley, it now has a coveted coach considered among the most innovative minds in football, one who has already proven capable of leading a prestigious program to the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Riley has agreed to terms and will be the 30th head coach of the Trojans, ending a search characterized by its quiet with a boom that will be felt across college football, a source with knowledge of the search not authorized to speak publicly about it told The Los Angeles Times.

USC officially announced the hire at about 5 p.m. Sunday.

The question lingered for three months: Would USC athletic director Mike Bohn take advantage of the long runway he gained by firing Clay Helton Sept. 13 and land a coach that could quickly rally the Trojan legions?

Even as other major jobs came open at Louisiana State and Florida and schools scrambled to hand out big-money extensions to keep coaches in place, Bohn has provided a resounding answer by luring Riley to Los Angeles.

“We are ecstatic to announce Lincoln Riley as our new head coach and welcome his wife, Caitlin, and their daughters, Sloan and Stella, to the Trojan Family,” Bohn said in a news release. “Lincoln is the rarest combination of extraordinary person and elite football coach. His successes and offensive accolades as a head coach the past five years are astonishing. Lincoln will recruit relentlessly, develop his players on and off the field, and implement a strong culture in which the program will operate with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.”

Riley will immediately take over running the USC football program, with Bob Stoops to coach the Sooners in their bowl game. Donte Williams will remain the Trojans’ interim head coach for Saturday’s game at California.

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Bill Plaschke: USC landing Lincoln Riley may be the most right coaching hire in school history

Lincoln Riley’s hiring at USC already impacting Trojans recruiting, Malachi Nelson

Five things USC fans should know about new football coach Lincoln Riley

USC football coaches: Glory and gaffes, from Gloomy Gus to Lincoln Riley

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RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: If it happened once, consider it a mistake. An aberration.

When it occurs twice in row, perhaps that’s a coincidence. Maybe bad luck.

Three consecutive games?

That’s a trend.

And make no mistake: The Rams and quarterback Matthew Stafford are trending downward.

On Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, for the third time in three games, Stafford committed two costly turnovers. For the third game in a row, an opponent returned an interception for a touchdown.

And the Rams lost, 36-28, before a crowd of 77,948 at Lambeau Field, extending their losing streak to three games.

The Rams, a star-laden team once regarded among the favorites to play in Super Bowl LVI at Sofi Stadium, instead dropped to 7-4 and fell further off the pace for a favorable NFC playoff seed.

At this point, with six games left, the playoffs also could be in doubt unless the Rams return to a semblance of their early-season form.

“We’ve got six left for sure,” coach Sean McVay said. “That’s a lot of football and the story isn’t written yet.

“We’ve got the pen.”

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Rams’ 36-28 road loss to Green Bay Packers by the numbers

CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: They began the game in the worst of all positions — their one-yard line — looking at a destination that couldn’t have been farther away.

That desperate starting point proved to be fitting on an all-uphill day when the Chargers set out on a reasonable enough journey but instead came up well short.

Too many crushing mistakes, blown opportunities and empty possessions doomed them in a 28-13 loss to Denver.

“We had a chance to make winning plays today,” coach Brandon Staley said, “and we didn’t make enough of them.”

The loss dropped the Chargers to 6-5, leaving them in a three-way tie for second place in the AFC West, one game behind Kansas City.

They fell behind 14-0 barely 17 minutes into the game when their offense generated nothing and their defense made enough errors to escort the Broncos into the end zone.

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Once super-looking Rams, Chargers have run into slumps and are losing ground

Chargers’ 28-13 road loss to Denver Broncos by the numbers

LAKERS

Dan Woike on the Lakers: The night always starts the same, highlights from the Lakers’ star-filled past projected onto an oversized white sheet before it floors to the floor.

This curtain drop, though, felt like it could be followed by a giant shoe.

Under normal circumstances, a visit from one of the worst NBA teams wouldn’t elicit any feelings of dread. But this season, these Lakers have been anything but normal – a team capable of talking about 10-game winning streaks with a straight face despite having barely won 10 of its first 21 games.

No, the moments before tip off at the Lakers’ home arena are more tense, another stinker performance moving the team closer to some fundamental changes.

The Lakers avoided disaster, albeit barely, beating the Pistons 110-106 in a game where they led by as many as 19 Sunday night.

The crowd howled as the streamers fell and as Randy Newman pounded the keys, but this felt more like a cause of brief exhalation and not celebration.

CLIPPERS

Helene Elliott on the Clippers: Stephen Curry got mad. And then the NBA’s leading scorer did more than get even: He went on a spree that lifted the Golden State Warriors far beyond the reach of the mistake-prone Clippers and padded their league-best record to a thoroughly earned 18-2.

After two seasons of missing the playoffs, the Warriors are back atop the West — and they’re getting healthier and fiercer by the minute. That was bad news Sunday for the Clippers, who contributed to their own demise by committing 25 turnovers that turned into 31 points in a 105-90 matinee loss at Staples Center.

The Warriors’ lead, which was two at the half and 75-68 after three quarters, stood at 79-70 early in the fourth quarter when Curry was shoved out of bounds. Curry protested loudly — and with good reason — when he didn’t hear a referee’s whistle, and he was hit with a technical foul.

“It was as upset as I’ve seen Steph in a long time, and it was as upset as I’ve been in a long time too,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s kind of a miracle that I didn’t get a technical. But it seemed to get him going. So, whatever it takes, I guess.”

UCLA FOOTBALL

Ben Bolch on the Bruins: The offense has been among the most prolific in the nation over the last three games, averaging 49.3 points. The defense has considerably stiffened, posting two scoreless halves while preventing any late drama in three consecutive blowout victories.

UCLA’s recent run of dominance under Chip Kelly probably ensures that the coach will return in 2022 with a contract extension, barring a departure for the NFL or other unforeseen circumstances. The coach’s supporters now have a lot more to point to than a positive trajectory amid a bad record in his four seasons.

The record that’s freshest in the minds of those deciding Kelly’s future may be his historic beatdown of USC, the Bruins dropping an unprecedented 62 points on their rival. UCLA’s offense has been nearly unstoppable since halftime of the team’s Colorado comeback earlier this month, scoring 37 unanswered points against the Buffaloes and 32 unanswered points against California on Saturday during a 42-14 rout.

DUCKS

Michael Bunting, Alexander Kerfoot and William Nylander each had a goal and an assist, and the Toronto Maple Leafs tied a franchise record with their seventh straight road victory, beating the Ducks 5-1.

The Maple Leafs also had seven straight road wins in 1940-41, 1960-61 and 2002-03.

Hampus Lindholm scored and John Gibson made 26 saves for the Ducks, who have lost four of five following an eight-game win streak.

UCLA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Iimar’i Thomas scored eight of her 19 points in the last six-plus minutes, Charisma Osborne added her seventh career double-double and the No. 19 UCLA women broke away late to defeat St. John’s 73-65 at the Gulf Coast Showcase on Sunday.

The Bruins (4-2) earned seventh place at the tournament and salvaged a win after back-to-back upset losses to Kent State and South Dakota State. All eight players scored for UCLA with four in double figures.

Osborne also scored 19 points — 12 in the first quarter — and added 11 rebounds and six assists. Natalie Chou and Dominique Onu each scored 10.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1890 — Navy beats Army 24-0 in the first matchup of this historic series.

1934 — The Detroit Lions play their first traditional Thanksgiving Day home game and lose to the Chicago Bears 19-16 in front of 26,000. CBS Radio does the first national broadcast of an NFL game.

1987 — The New Orleans Saints hold off the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-16 to assure themselves of their first winning season in their 20-year history.

1992 — New York Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd is paralyzed in his lower body after colliding with teammate Scott Mersereau and breaking his C-5 vertebra in a 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

1995 — Grant Fuhr becomes the 11th NHL goalie to win 300 games as the St. Louis Blues beat Winnipeg 4-1.

1998 — Miami’s Dan Marino becomes the first player to throw 400 touchdown passes, passing for 255 yards and three TDs in the Dolphins’ 30-10 win against New Orleans.

2003 — LeBron James, 18, becomes youngest player in NBA history to score 30 or more points in a game with his 33-point effort in the Cavaliers’ 122-115 double-overtime loss to Memphis. Kobe Bryant was 19 when he reached 30 for the Lakers in 1997.

2003 — Maryland’s Bruce Perry rushes for 237 yards while Wake Forest’s Chris Barclay gains 243 yards, marking the first time in ACC history and only the fifth time in NCAA history that opposing backs have more than 200 rushing yards in the same game. Perry scores three touchdowns in the Terrapins’ 41-28 win.

2004 — Brett Favre celebrates his 200th straight regular-season start with three touchdown passes and yet another record in the Green Bay Packers’ 45-17 rout of the St. Louis Rams.

2008 — Chris Duhon passes out a franchise-record 22 assists in New York’s 138-125 victory over Golden State. Duhon breaks Richie Guerin’s team record of 21 assists set in 1958. New York scores 82 points in the first half to break the record for most first-half points at the present Madison Square Garden, set when Kansas City scored 81 on Dec. 8, 1979.

2009 — Francesco and Edoardo Molinari become the first brothers to win the World Cup of Golf, giving Italy its first title in the team event with a one-stroke victory over Sweden and Ireland.

2009 — The Indianapolis Colts earn their 20th straight regular-season victory with a 35-27 win over Houston. The Colts came back from fourth-quarter deficits in each of their last five games to become the first NFL team to win five in a row when trailing in the fourth quarter of each contest.

2012 — Drew Brees throws a career-high five interceptions and his record touchdown streak of 54 consecutive games ends in New Orleans’ 23-13 loss to Atlanta. Brees completed 28 of 50 passes for 341 yards.

2013 — David Fales throws for 543 yards and six touchdowns in an entertaining showdown with Derek Carr and San Jose State ends No. 16 Fresno State’s run toward a possible BCS bowl with a 62-52 victory. Carr passes for 519 yards and six touchdowns.

2015 — Andy Murray gives Britain its first Davis Cup title in 79 years when he beats Belgium’s David Goffin 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 in the first of reverse singles. The win gives Britain an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Highlights of the Lakers-Pistons game. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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