A decade after a lackluster UCLA team upended USC’s national title hopes, there was some hope among the Bruins’ faithful that a repeat performance could play out at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night (albeit with slightly lower stakes).
While there were some initial flashes of an upset early, the Trojans surged ahead in the second quarter and then ended any doubt with yet another impressive performance by beating their crosstown rivals 36-14.
The Trojans punted just twice all night, blocked a kick and ran nearly double the number of plays (for well over double the yardage) of their opponent. Quarterback Sam Darnold did throw two bad interceptions but made up for it with 267 yards and two scores. Tailback Ronald Jones chipped in 121 yards and two more touchdowns (one from 60 yards out).
UCLA struggled much of the night to sustain drives and never seemed to have much energy despite scoring on their first drive thanks to a 56 yard touchdown catch from Jordan Lasley. Mike Fafaul had two scores through the air but couldn’t get much else done with another terrible performance from the Bruins ground game.
The win was USC’s seventh in a row, continuing to underscore their status as the hottest team in the country. The Trojans rose to 13th in the latest College Football Rankings and need just a loss by Colorado next week to win the Pac-12 South.
Even if that scenario doesn’t play out, a potential Rose Bowl berth is still in the cards for Clay Helton’s squad a few months after claiming victory at the same stadium on Saturday.