UCLA Has It’s Day Against USC
UCLA, 6-2 in the Pac-12) snapped a five-game losing streak to crosstown rival USC , 5-4 in the conference) with a 38-28 victory on Saturday at the Rose Bowl and earned a spot in the Pac-12 Conference championship game.
After many years in the shadow of the Trojans, the Bruins finally get the limelight thanks to first-year head coach Jim Mora, freshman quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Jonathan Franklin.
Hundley passed for 234 yards, threw for a touchdown, and rushed for two more touchdowns, while Franklin rushed for 171 yards in 29 carries and two touchdowns, including a clutch 29-yarder with 4:02 to play in the game.
“When the season started, obviously nobody thought we were going to do what we’re doing now,” said Hundley, who completed 22 passes out of 30 attempts without an interception. “But we all knew deep down inside that we could do it, that we had the talent. We can do everything we set our mind to, as long as we work hard.”
A year after the Trojans thrashed the Bruins, 50-0 in a game that led to a coaching change, the Bruins finally triumphed – just their second win in 14 years in the crosstown series.
Mora, the winningest first-year coach in UCLA history, reminded his team that they still have their work cut out for them with three games left to play, but was still able to appreciate the moment.
“It’s a great moment, and I’m excited. I can’t wait to hug my mom, shake my dad’s hand (famous former NFL head coach Jim Mora Sr.) and kiss my kids. I don’t want to minimize it at all.”
The Bruins also played in the Pac-12 title game last year, but only by default after finishing two games behind the postseason-banned Trojans. But this year, the Bruins entered this rival game with a higher ranking and more wins than the Trojans for the first time in a decade.
“It’s a great night, but we’ve got so many things we still want to do,” Franklin said. “We’re going to enjoy it. We were confident coming into this game.”
Matt Barkley passed for 301 yards and three touchdowns, but threw two interceptions in the Trojans’ third loss in four games. The Trojans were the preseason #1 team, but will return to the postseason in a lower-tier bowl. Barkley was injured and it hasn’t been determined if he’ll be able to play against Notre Dame Saturday.
“You wouldn’t think we would lose this game with a senior quarterback versus a freshman,” Trojan coach Lane Kiffin said. “We’re extremely disappointed with this season. We’re too talented to have that many losses.”
Barkley experienced some bad luck. He threw an interception on the first play of the game and then sustained a game-ending injury on a blind-side sack by Anthony Barr with 2:21 left to play in the game. Backup quarterback Max Wittek finished the game, but had no luck.
When Trojans kicker Andre Heidari had his 38-yard field-goal attempt blocked by senior cornerback Sheldon Price with 1:41 left in the game and down by 10 points, that was the end of all hope for USC.
This year, the Bruins literally “rained” on the Trojans parade on a wet afternoon in Pasadena.