Saturday afternoon’s USC vs. UCLA score featured lots of early scoring before a grind-it-out second half saw the Trojans blow another lead.
The lowdown: Despite having a less-than-ballyhooed lead up, the USC vs. UCLA game got out to a flyer of a start, with both teams putting together an entertaining, albeit not-so-well played first half. The Bruins ran for 100 yards in the first quarter alone, while jumping out to a 14-3 lead on a Wilton Speight scramble.
USC flipped the script in a wild minute-plus that included a fake punt, a 44-yard touchdown pass from JT Daniels to Amon-Ra St. Brown and a blocked punt by Jake Russell resulting in a Devon Williams touchdown return.
After the teams traded blows later in the second quarter, the Trojans took a 24-21 lead into halftime, despite running 15 fewer plays.
The tempo came to a grinding halt following halftime, with USC having drives stall at the Bruin 3-yard line and the 39, netting three points in the process to lead 27-21.
That’s when UCLA took over the game with a seven-play, 97-yard drive, capped with a 52-yard touchdown run from Joshua Kelley. The score put him at 256 yards for the game and gave the Bruins 28-27 lead after a JJ Molson extra point. The kicker would add a pair of field goals to make it 34-27 with 2:36 left in the game, following horrific USC drives deep in their own territory.
With one final shot at tying the game, the Trojans drove down to the UCLA 29-yard line but no further. Daniels threw an errant pass on fourth down and the Bruins sealed their first win over USC since 2014, and just the fifth in 20 years.
Daniels finished the game with a season-high 337 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, but his two interceptions would be the story.
Player of the game: UCLA running back Joshua Kelley had a monumental game for the Bruins. He rushed the for the most yards in the history of USC-UCLA game with 289 on 40 carries, a total that ranks as the second-most ever against the Trojans behind Kenjon Barner’s 321 in 2012.
Stat of the game No. 1: This is the first time USC lost to a team that will finish with at least eight losses since the infamous 2007 defeat to 40-point underdog Stanford. Should the Bruins lose to the Cardinal next week in their season finale, it’ll be the first time the Trojans lost to a 9-loss team since falling to 1-9 Cal in 1957. (H/T to Reign of Troy Radio listener Richard Rapp for the historical note.)
Stat of the game No. 2: The attendance of 57,116 was the smallest crowd for a USC-UCLA game since 1950, making it the least-attended rivalry game at the Rose Bowl since the Bruins left the Coliseum in 1982.
Next on tap: The Trojans will wrap up the regular season against College Football Playoff contender undefeated Notre Dame at the Coliseum next Saturday night. The annual rivalry game —which USC must win to be bowl eligible— will kickoff at 5:00 p.m. PT on ABC.