PROVO — Few believed but they never doubted.

No, not at all.

BYU linebacker Kavika Fonua tipped a Kedon Slovis pass that Dayan Ghanwoloku intercepted in overtime to propel BYU past No. 24-ranked Southern California Saturday in a sun-drenched LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday.

Combine it with the Cougars’ double-overtime win at Tennessee in SEC territory and BYU football definitely separated itself from that four-win 2017 season. Things are on the uptick.

Go ahead and renew Kalani Sitake. He is 1-1 in the Pac-12 and 1-0 in the SEC following the dramatic first win over the storied Trojan program, a squad that recruits and signs whomever it wants in the Golden State.

I had BYU going 0-4 in September, then 8-0 the rest of the season. Today the Cougars stand 2-1 heading into another home game against Washington. There goes that August preseason thought.

Doubters be shamed.

Highlights, key plays and photos from BYU’s 30-27 upset win over No. 24 USC
Twitter reacts to BYU Cougars’ win over USC Trojans
BYU earns another OT win — Cougars knock off No. 24 USC, 30-27

As fans flooded the field, an emotionally fired-up Sitake soaked it all in, gratitude and pride swelling up in his heart that had to nearly stop several times in the course of this electrifying win.

Jake Oldroyd’s 42-yard field goal to end BYU’s first possession in overtime proved the winning points. It capped a game in which BYU’s football team emptied the tank and left nothing on the field. If BYU is a program with an overachieving roster of athletes, the win over USC proved what could be achieved with a lot of grit, hope and faith, and Sitake’s players had plenty of it from start to finish.

This was an inspired BYU team that took to the field Saturday and delivered a made-for-TV show for a national ABC-TV audience. If Stanford was ranked and just went 0-2, and USC was ranked 24th and got taken down by the Cougars, how fluky are rankings? Could BYU begin earning some love by voters if polls are so fluky? BYU made a case Saturday. Pac 12 AP voters may back BYU now to prop up Utah’s strength of schedule. Of the nation’s top 11 ranked teams including Utah, none start the year playing four Power 5 teams like BYU. Next week’s game against previously ranked Washington might provide an answer.

Missing defensive starters Zayne Anderson and Sawyer Powell, starting linebacker Keenan Pili went down with a shoulder injury on the first play of the game. His replacement, Payton Wilgar, promptly intercepted national media darling USC quarterback Kedon Slovis. Isaiah Kaufusi also picked Slovis, and Ghanwoloku’s game-ender made it three for the freshman that killed ranked Stanford the week prior.

Defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga knocked down passes and sacked Slovis early, rattling the rookie. Tonga’s impact on the defense cannot be overstated; he was that good.

BYU’s Zach Wilson, who had a pair of pick-sixes in the opener against Utah, played a near-perfect game of making huge plays under pressure and at critical times. His laser TD throw of 30 yards to Dax Milne gave BYU a 17-10 in the second quarter and it was the best throw of his career. Finishing 20 of 33 for 280 yards, his 16-yard QB sneak TD with 5:41 left put the Cougars up 27-24. In crunch time, Wilson completed 11 straight passes. He threw to 12 different targets.

Wilson’s scrambling late-game 35-yard throw to Gunner Romney was a backbreaker for USC.

Graduate transfer Ty’Son Williams gained 99 yards on 19 carries and kept USC’s defense honest.

In so many ways, this USC win was the best performance by the Cougars since going to Madison and beating then-No. 6 Wisconsin last year.

The past eight days added a layer to BYU football’s attempt to make it as an independent. Wins over Tennessee and USC would not be on the agenda as a member of the Mountain West.

The Cougars out-gained USC 299 to 281 through the air and while the Trojans had 452 to 430 in total offense, BYU gained 5.8 yards to USC’s 5.7.

Going into the game, critics wondered how BYU’s defense could win by using a three-man front while dropping eight in coverage.

Well, it worked with three interceptions. BYU forced USC’s air raid offense under new coordinator Graham Harrell, a Mike Leach disciple, to abandon its pass and go more one-dimensional with the run. USC attempted 34 passes and 45 runs.

“We even dropped a few (interceptions) today,” Sitake told reporters afterward. “We believe in the scheme and the guys up front to own the line. It took all 11 on defense to make them be more balanced. An air raid team that ran more than they threw? Mission accomplished.”

“Our D-line did a great job providing pressure and we kept mixing up coverages to confuse him,” said Ghanwoloku.

“We had no doubt we would win this game,” said Fonua. “Just like we had confidence we would beat Tennessee.”