UCLA supplants USC as the top football power in Los Angeles and Pac 12 South Champions.
UCLA 38 | USC 28
By Gary Montgomery
Pasadena – What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago the UCLA Bruins football team limped out of the Coliseum after a 50-0 shellacking at the hands of the Trojans. UCLA, dressed in their new all white uniforms couldn’t get into the end zone and were further humiliated by having to represent the Pac-12 south divisions a week later against the relentless Oregon Ducks, receiving more of the same punishment.
Fast forward one year and preseason No.1 USC (7-4;5-4 Pac 12) can’t seem to stop the slide from top dog to complete conference irrelevance to a Bowl game in San Diego, Las Vegas or El Paso. UCLA (9-2; 7-2 Pac 12) romped over around and through the Trojans on their way to a 38-28 victory.
Prior to Saturday’s win, the Bruins had only one win in the last 14 tries against their cross-town rival. In 2006, Carl Dorrell’s defense was able to squeeze out a 13–9 victory over the Trojans.
“This is a wonderful feeling, I’ve been around here going on four years and this is the first time we have ever beaten them. It’s a real special moment. It’s a new day in Los Angeles and things are not going to be the same anymore,” said former Corona Centennial star Ricky Marvray.
Saturday’s beat down at the hands of the Bruins marks USC’s third loss in its last 4 games. On the first play from scrimmage, Aaron Hester intercepted Matt Barkley’s pass on the 31 yard line and returned it 14-yards setting up a four play scoring drive culminating in a 1-yard TD run by Brett Hundley and a UCLA 7-0 lead that they would build on and not relinquish for the rest of the afternoon.
UCLA first year head coach Jim Mora was all smiles as he opened his post game press conference. “I’m especially happy for our seniors that finally got a chance to win their last one against USC,” said Mora. The Bruins certainly have a new attitude under Mora but the fuel that makes the Bruins’ engine go is red shirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley. The Bruins, long hampered by poor quarterback play. It’s difficult to remember their last successful winning streak against USC.
Hundley was 22 of 30 for 234-yards, 1 passing touchdown and 2 running TD’s. “I told the seniors (before the game) that I would not let them go without (beating USC), and I’m going to give them my best effort to get it,” said Hundley.
Hundley’s pinpoint passing in the first quarter put the USC defense on its heels and running back Johnathan Franklin finished bowling them over.
Franklin rushed for 171-yards and two touchdowns including a 29-yard scamper with 4:02 remaining that put the game in the refrigerator for the Bruins.
With Saturdays win, UCLA locked up the Pac-12 south division championship and a date, with the north division champion which they also have a say in deciding. If UCLA beats Stanford at home on Saturday they will play Oregon for the Pac-12 Championship. If Stanford wins, they will play Stanford again on Nov. 30 for the Pac-12 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
As for USC, it’s not over by a long shot. Knocking off the newly crowned BCS No. 1 team on Saturday and becoming this seasons’ BCS wrecking ball will go a long way toward healing the wounds of a miserably disappointing season. The Fighting Irish come to the Coliseum of Saturday sporting an 11-0 record and the inside track to the BCS title game.
But, USC will have to do it without their senior leader. Adding major salt to an already ugly wound, UCLA linebacker, Anthony Barr zeroed in on Matt Barkley number 7 and flattened him on a blitz with less than two minutes left in Saturday’s game. Barkley lay on the turf for a full 8 count before going to a neutral corner and letting red shirt freshman Max Wittek finish the game. Barkley sustained a shoulder sprain and is scheduled to sit on Saturday. The Trojans will turn to Wittek on Saturday and hope he can out maneuver a very good Irish defense.
Wittek has appeared in six games so far this season, including the final minutes of Saturday’s loss to UCLA where he completed three passes for 45-yards.
I wouldn’t bet against the Trojans, stranger things have happened to college football teams in November.
G. Montgomery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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