USC vs. UCLA score, summary: Trojans outlast Josh Rosen’s Bruins

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /

Saturday night’s USC vs. UCLA score was closer than expected for much of it, as the Trojans struggled to put away Josh Rosen and the Bruins.

The lowdown: The first half followed a similar script for the Trojans, as they jumped out to a 14-7 lead after the first quarter, only to squander several opportunities. Michael Pittman had the early highlight with a 72-yard fake-out punt return for a touchdown, but USC only gained seven offensive points despite four drives penetrating the Bruins’ 40-yard line in the first half.

The two most egregious stalls came at the end. Quarterback Sam Darnold was picked off, and then followed it up with an ill-advised half-ending scramble in the dying seconds despite not having any timeouts.

Defensively, USC put in a mixed bag performance. While Josh Rosen threw for 228 yards in the first half —and 421 for the game— UCLA did their best impression of the underachieving Trojans’ offense by leaving points on the field.

The Bruins were also held scoreless in the second quarter, despite a Rosen fumble and having a touchdown run on a fake reverse called back for an illegal clip.

The second half offered more of the same. The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, despite another Rosen interception, and a pair of USC drives without a first.

But down 21-14 early in the fourth, the Bruins marched down the field on a nine-play, 77-yard drive that ultimately stalled deep in Trojan territory. Jim Mora settled for a field goal and a 21-17 deficit, rather than going for it on 4th-and-4 at the USC nine-yard line.

From there, USC would go on their best drive of the night, spanning 10 plays and 90 yards. They capped it off with Ronald Jones’ second touchdown run of the night.

The 28-17 lead would be enough for Troy, despite another Rosen touchdown pass moments later. In the end, the Trojans eeked out a 28-23 victory, despite being outscored by the Bruins’ offense.

The takeaway: There could be some really elaborate take here, but what’s there to say? This was the same game from USC we’ve seen week in and week out.

The defense isn’t perfect and gives up big plays, but does about as expected and more than enough to win. The offense —which has a higher ceiling and more potency— sputters in fits of inconsistency.

The result? A game in which USC had several opportunities to put the game away and didn’t, for a variety of reasons including ineffective blocking, play calling and an overall lack of execution. Again, this is why they’re not ranked in the Top 10 ahead of more two-loss teams.

Player of the game: Uchenna Nwosu came to play on senior night. The outside linebacker had eight tackles, a sack and two pass breakups. He’s put together a stellar career, especially after being recruited as a slender three-star safety.

Stat of the game: Despite allowing a horrific 302.3 rushing yards per game, UCLA held USC to just 153 yards on the ground. Ronald Jones needed just 130 yards to tie O.J. Simpson for fifth on the Trojans’ career rushing yards list and came up short with 122.

Next on tap: With the regular season in the books, the Trojans will now have a bye week before the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday, December 1 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.