On the first play from scrimmage, Matt Barkley threw an easy interception to Aaron Hester, the exact opposite of the start the Trojans wanted coming into this game. UCLA would turn that pick into points, avoiding another shutout and scoring four plays later courtesy of Brett Huntley to go up 7-0 on the Trojans.
Barkley tried to hit Marqise Lee in double coverage, and everyone in the entire stadium, on the field, and those watching at home saw the play coming. That was his 14th interception on the season, double the amount he had in 2011.
On their second drive the Trojans got going by way of Curtis McNeal breaking off a 34-yard run, but UCLA’s defense held them after that, forcing USC to punt it away.
The Bruins took over from their 10-yard line and, led by QB Brett Hundley playing with much more poise and clarity than Matt Barkley has this entire season, lead his team down the field. The Trojan defense played incredibly soft after starting strong by forcing a 4-yard loss on the first play. They Trojans did eventually get a stop when Morgan Breslin sacked Hundley on third down, 10.5 for him on the season. But on 4th and 13 the Bruins went for it, and they converted.
89 yards from their starting point, the Bruins capped their drive with a field goal from 23 yards out after being held just outside the goal line.
On USC’s next possession, UCLA forced a fumble by Marqise Lee and once again took over the ball.
This from the team that was the Preseason No. 1 pick. Oh, how far the mighty have fallen.
With the Trojans imploding, the Bruins again crept towards the Trojan redzone and scored, this time with Huntley connecting with Joseph Fauria from 17 yards out.
In the first quarter it was made clear that this UCLA team is not the same one the Trojans beat 50-0, and a sixth consecutive victory for SC will not come easily. The Bruins are playing with hunger and determination, a fire the Trojans will have to put out if they want to win this game.