UCLA Defeats USC, 38-28, Claim Pac-12 South Title
Nov. 17, 2012
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - Brett Hundley passed for 234 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two more scores as No. 17 UCLA beat Southern California (No. 18 BCS, No. 21 AP) 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 for a gutsy victory that puts them atop Los Angeles' football hierarchy.
UCLA punctuated its one-year revitalization under 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 two touchdowns, but threw two interceptions 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.
Johnathan Franklin rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns for UCLA, including a clutch 29-yard scoring run with 4:02 to play. Sheldon Price then blocked USC's field-goal attempt with 1:34 left, and the Bruins stormed the field after the final gun before celebrating with students in the corner of the Rose Bowl.
"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 with a decisive win.
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 Marqise 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.
"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, going 22 for 30 without an interception, Barkley threw an interception on the game's first play and rarely looked comfortable.
Barkley was hammered on a blind-side sack by UCLA's Anthony Barr with 2:21 to play, spending a long moment on the Rose Bowl turf before walking off gingerly. He watched USC's final drive from the sideline while backup Max Wittek played.
Nelson Agholor and Randall Telfer caught TD passes for the Trojans, and Curtis McNeal rushed for 158 yards. Lee had nine catches for 158 yards, and All-American Robert Woods had five catches for 68 yards.
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.
After Aaron Hester intercepted Barkley's first pass into double coverage, Hundley scored on a 1-yard keeper just 81 seconds in to give UCLA its first lead in the rivalry game since 2008. The interception was Barkley's 14th of the season, doubling his total as a junior and matching his mark as a mediocre freshman in 2009.
Moments later, UCLA mounted an 18-play, 84-yard drive stretching more than 7:30, with Hundley completing his first 10 passes before the Bruins hit a field goal.
After Lee fumbled while curiously lined up as a tailback, UCLA scored on Hundley's pretty fade to the 6-foot-7 Fauria. Franklin's 16-yard TD run up the middle in the second quarter.
USC's offense finally came alive in the final minutes of the first half, with Barkley leading two drives ending in TD throws to Agholor and Telfer.
A significant rain began to fall at halftime, and it immediately bothered the Bruins on a wacky play during their opening drive. Hundley and Franklin both fumbled before two diving linemen knocked the ball into the end zone, where Uko fell on it.
But after Kendricks blocked Kyle Negrete's punt, Hundley scored again from 3 yards out for UCLA's third TD on a short drive set up by its defense and special teams.
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