SALT LAKE CITY — Southern California is making it a lot more exciting than it wants.
"That's our season right now," USC coach Steve Sarkisian said. "We're living and dying by these moments. It obviously hurts a lot when you lose the way we lost tonight."
Southern California (5-3, 4-2 Pac-12) lost to Arizona State on a Hail Mary play and escaped with a victory over Arizona when the Wildcats missed a last-second 36-yard field goal.
The 6-foot-7 Wilson lost the starting job to Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson last week before taking over in the second half in a 29-23 double-overtime victory at Oregon State.
"It's so amazing," Wilson said. "Words can't really describe how I'm feeling right now."
Wilson put the Utes in position for the winning touchdown when he was flushed from the pocket and scrambled 19 yards, diving as he approached the goal line. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but was overturned on review — giving Utah the ball a foot from the end zone.
"I was actually just headed toward the sideline but I saw a little bit more room and I made an extra effort to get the end zone," Wilson said.
Devontae Booker was stopped just short on the next play before Wilson's touchdown pass to Clay on a sprint-out to the right side — a catch that also was reviewed before it was confirmed.
"I'm so emotional right now," Clay said. "I grew up cheering for USC and to score the winning touchdown against them is really special."
"That was a gut-check," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, whose team is bowl eligible for the first time in three seasons. "USC is one talented team, probably the best talent man-for-man in the conference but we slugged it out with them for 60 minutes."
Black-clad Utes fans streamed onto the field around some of the Trojans players, who stood motionless, stunned at another last-second loss.
"The game wasn't lost in the fourth quarter," USC linebacker Sua Cravens said. "The game was lost throughout the game because we didn't shut them out. We didn't execute."
Wilson was 18-for-32 passing for 194 yards and Booker had his fourth straight 100-yard game with 102 yards.
"I'm speechless right now," Booker said. "We came out here tonight and it started rough, but we came back and fought our butt off to win this game."
Kessler completed 24 of 32 attempts for 264 yards and Javorius Allen ran for 101 yards, but the Trojans couldn't convert a late fourth down after opting not to kick a field goal with a 21-17 lead.
Utah forced the turnover on downs with 2:08 to play when Nelson Agholor stepped out of bounds a yard short of the first-down marker at the Utah 27.
Sarkisian didn't hesitate to gamble because the wind picked up in the fourth quarter and he liked his chances for getting the first down.
"We did think about it," Sarkisian said. "We just made the decision to go for it. I thought we called a good play. Nelson got to the edge and unfortunately his toe nicks out of bounds before he gets the first down."
After USC gained only 44 yards of total offense in the second and third quarters, Kessler capped a 12-play, 73-yard touchdown drive with a four-yard TD pass to Darreus Rogers to give USC a 21-17 lead with 10:18 left.
Utah linebacker Jason Fanaika intercepted a ball after it glanced off Agholor's hands. Three plays later, Booker finally broke loose and ran 24 yards for a touchdown just before the end of the third quarter for a 17-14 Utah lead.
"We wanted to come out here and establish who we are, and let everyone know what Utah is all about," Fanaika said.
The game marked the first time two ranked teams met in Rice-Eccles Stadium since Utah lost to TCU 47-7 in 2010. Utah fans marked the occasion with the largest home crowd in school history at 47,619.