College football fans nearly witnessed a major upset on Saturday to open the regular season. The new-look Western Michigan Broncos were on the road as major underdogs against the USC Trojans, who are ranked No. 4 in the country to start the season.
The Broncos hung with USC for three quarters of play on Saturday, tied 21-21 at the Coliseum. Unfortunately for Western Michigan, the Trojans outscored them 28-10 in the fourth quarter to avoid a scare, going on to win 49-31.
Western Michigan senior defensive back and return man Darius Phillips officially only returned four kickoffs on Saturday. One, however, was good for 100 yards and a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that tied it back up at 28 apiece.
— Fantasy Sports Degens (@FantasyDegens) September 3, 2017
The 100-yard dash for the senior Phillips was his 11th career touchdown and the fourth off a kickoff return. He’s now logged one kickoff return touchdown in each of his four seasons at WMU.
Phillips and the Broncos now return home to the state of Michigan and make the short trek up to East Lansing for a game against the Michigan State Spartans, who opened the seasons with a 35-10 victory over another MAC opponent in Bowling Green.
It’ll be the first meeting between the two in-state programs since 2015 when they met in Kalamazoo to open the season. The No. 5 Spartans went on to win that game en route to a Big Ten championship and spot in the College Football Playoff
Phillips in that game also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The Detroit native and product of Dearborn Heights Robichaud High School was named to the Paul Hornung Award watch list prior to the season, which is given annually to the nation’s most versatile player.
Former Michigan do-everything star Jabrill Peppers took home the award last season.