USC center Brett Neilon has a new addition to his signature: “Neilon Nudge 17-14 vs. OSU.”

The play that legitimately saved USC in its biggest game so far has its own name. It’s called the Neilon Nudge. On fourth-and-6, with the game clock ticking under three minutes to play and quarterback Caleb Williams stood up by Oregon State’s defense just shy of the line to gain, Neilon came barreling into the frame.

“I didn’t really honestly know how close the first down was,” Neilon told reporters this week. “And I just kind of looked at (Williams) and he kind of looked at me, and I just ran full speed at him and hit him. I assumed he was kind of close because there was no whistle, so I assumed the refs thought he might be pretty close, jockeying for position. So I just went and I hit him pretty hard. Maybe the hardest hit of my life.”

In the same way a defensive coach implores his guys to run to and through the ball-carrier, offensive line coach Josh Henson has preached to his group all year to run to the ball and finish. So Neilon, a sixth-year senior, just let instinct take over.

“I channeled my inner sumo and just kind of belly-bumped him,” Neilon joked.

He didn’t even realize until after the game that decision was the difference between a first down or turning the ball over to Oregon State and possibly not getting it back.

Five plays later, USC found the endzone for just the second time all night. Williams connected with wideout Jordan Addison on a 21-yard laser to give the Trojans a 17-14 lead and eventually the win.

“It was awesome, one of my favorite plays I’ve ever had anywhere,” said coach Lincoln Riley. “That right there is everything that we’ve been preaching. That gives you a chance even when you’re not at your best offensively.”

As the Trojans move forward in Riley’s first season, that play has the potential to loom large. USC survived its first test and first real bit of adversity on the year. For a team with major aspirations, perhaps its a springboard kind of moment. A nudge just a bit closer to their goals, if you will.