No. 21 USC knocked off by No. 17 UCLA, 38-28
- Article by: GREG BEACHAM
- Associated Press
- November 17, 2012 - 8:22 PM
PASADENA, Calif. - Lane Kiffin already knew he'll return to Southern California next season before his Trojans lost for the third time in four games.
Only Kiffin is now coaching in a city where his Trojans are no longer on top.
Brett Hundley passed for 234 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two more scores as No. 17 UCLA beat No. 21 USC 38-28 Saturday, clinching the Pac-12 South title and emphatically snapping a five-game losing streak in their crosstown showdown.
Eric Kendricks blocked a punt and made a fourth-quarter interception for the Bruins (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12), who overcame intermittent second-half rain and USC's star-studded lineup with a steady effort.
A year after USC obliterated the Bruins 50-0 in a game that led to a coaching change in Westwood, UCLA punctuated its one-year revitalization under coach Jim Mora with its first win over the Trojans (7-4, 5-4) since 2006 — just their second in 14 years.
The football hierarchy in Los Angeles has flipped — and even Kiffin acknowledged it.
"I can't argue that," said Kiffin, who has been assured he'll return by athletic director Pat Haden. "When you lose the game, you can't argue. That's why they play the games, so congrats to them. Obviously, we're not thrilled about it, but we're going to get it fixed."
Matt Barkley passed for 301 yards and three touchdowns, but threw two interceptions and took a hard hit from Anthony Barr late in the Trojans' third loss in four games. USC was the preseason's No. 1 team, but will return to the postseason in a lower-tier bowl after next week's regular-season finale against Notre Dame.
"You wouldn't think we would lose this game with a senior quarterback versus a freshman," Kiffin said. "We're extremely disappointed with this season. We're too talented to have that many losses."
Johnathan Franklin rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns for UCLA, including a clutch 29-yard scoring run with 4:02 to play after USC trimmed its deficit to three points. The Bruins celebrated in the corner of the Rose Bowl and again with an impromptu dance-off in the locker room, even while Mora reminded them they've still got three games to play.
"It's a great moment, and I'm excited," said Mora, the winningest first-year coach in UCLA history. "I can't wait to hug my mom, shake my dad's hand and kiss my kids. I don't want to minimize it at all."
Shaquelle Evans had eight catches for 114 yards for UCLA, which clinched a spot in the Pac-12 title game in two weeks with its fifth consecutive win. The Bruins also played in that game last year, but only by default after finishing two games behind postseason-banned USC.
Everything has changed in Los Angeles this season: UCLA entered this showdown with a higher ranking and more victories than USC for the first time in a decade, and the Bruins backed it up.
"When the season started, obviously nobody thought we were going to do what we're doing now," said Hundley, who went 22 for 30 and didn't throw 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."
While Hundley led UCLA with the same preternatural calm he has shown all year, Barkley threw an interception on the game's first play and rarely looked comfortable. Barkley was hammered on a blind-side sack by Barr with 2:21 to play, spending a long moment on the Rose Bowl turf before walking off gingerly and watching USC's final drive from the sideline.
Kiffin refuses to give information on most injuries, and Barkley had a coat over his arm while leaving the Rose Bowl.
Nelson Agholor and Randall Telfer caught TD passes for the Trojans, and Curtis McNeal rushed for 158 yards. Marqise Lee had nine catches for 158 yards, and All-American Robert Woods had five catches for 68 yards.
"UCLA did a great job, but we're very disappointed," said Lee, who had a key early fumble. "We all knew about the stakes in this rivalry game, and we competed. ... Other people, they'll be sad. But to me, we came out against a great team and had too many turnovers."
Franklin and Joseph Fauria scored while UCLA jumped out to an early 24-0 lead under a morning mist that turned into serious rain by halftime at the Rose Bowl.
USC trimmed its huge early deficit to 24-20 on George Uko's fumble recovery in the end zone in the third quarter. The Trojans pulled within 31-28 with Lee's 14-yard TD catch and a 2-point conversion with 7:22 to play.
But Hundley and the Bruins coolly mounted an 83-yard drive, converting a long third down before Franklin — UCLA's career rushing leader, nicknamed Jet Ski — sped across the watery turf for the clinching score.
The teams both wore their home jerseys on the verdant Rose Bowl turf in a return to the distinctive tradition that was revived a few years ago. UCLA abandoned the tradition last year, inexplicably choosing its rivalry game to debut an all-white ensemble that hasn't been seen since its 50-point thrashing.
© 2014 Star Tribune