50-0 is a thing of the past, and the game isn’t even over yet.
The Bruins lead the Trojans 24-14 at the half, and have made their message loud and clear: they have no intentions of relenting, and every intention of changing the rhetoric of who runs LA.
Johnathan Franklin easily broke a tackle to run 16 yards to the endzone, futher extending UCLA’s lead. In the first quarter the Bruins scored twice off of Trojan errors, and SC looked like they had no head, no heart, and no effort to put into this game.
On their following possession though, USC decided to pick the pace up and to have Barkley throw down field, and it worked. Barkley hit Woods over the middle for a huge 33-yard gain, and the ball was rolling ever so slightly. Three plays and barely over a minute later, Barklet again went over the middle, this time connecting with freshman Nelson Agholor who brought it down masterfully and then headed for the endzone 33 yards later.
Avoiding a shutout, something that was a very realistic possibility based on the way USC has played so far, the Trojans finally got on the board to cut the lead 24-7.
The defense finally pulled its head out of the dirt, when they Anthony Sarao brought down Huntley for a huge sack (Huntley’s third time getting sacked so far) that forced the Bruins to punt for the first time of the game.
Barkley and the offense took the field, and for the second time all afternoon, played like they want to make this a game after all. Mixing up passes to Woods (finally!), Agholor and Lee and with huge runs from McNeal, the Trojans were able to get an advantage over UCLA’s defense and have them scrambling to stop anything.
McNeal forced the Bruins to drag him down at their 5-yard line and then Barkley shot a bullet right to TE Randall Telfer in the endzone for another score to make it 24-14.
Their backs finally off the ropes and seeming to move to the beat of a much better, more efficient drummer, the Trojans had found their momentum.
UCLA elected to run the clock out, a good thing for USC because it means the Bruins didn’t score again and they will carry their newfound momentum into the half.
Hundley has completed 16 of 19 passes while Barkley has only completed 9 of 15, but he is looking a lot better after a horrid start. It will be important for Hundley to stay on his feet in the second half, as the Trojan D line is looking to add to their sack count, currently at three.
They have narrowly avoided a blowout, and if they want to continue to temper the surge UCLA brought into this game, they will need to come out of the half guns blazing, with no holds barred. SC is hanging tough, but that is not the position they wanted to be in coming into this clash. There’s no excuse for coming out as flat and passionless as the Trojans did this first half, but it is starting to look as if they have had a change of heart.
Curtis McNeal has 77 yards and is SC’s leading rusher, two more than Johnathan Franklin does for UCLA. Agholor, Woods, and Lee have 118 yards amongst them, and if USC continues to share the wealth like they did at the end of the half, they just might be taking the victory bell back home with them after all.