LOS ANGELES-USC did more than just win a football game against their crosstown rivals UCLA. They won back the city. They re-captured the glory of Troy. For a team that lost its heralded head coach early in the season, was left headed for the Pac-12 Conference South Division doormat after a couple of stinging defeats, the Trojans rose up and shut down the haters and non-believers with a game performance that resembled USC teams of old.
The Trojans got physical. The Bruins wilted. USC gets an opportunity to play for the Rose Bowl Game nod. UCLA is still trying to find its identity after the Trojans laid a 40-21 thumping on the Bruins at the Los Angeles Memorial Colisuem on a beautiful, sunny Southern California day.
They did it with defense. They did it with special teams. They did with a powerful running attack. In essence, this Trojans’ victory was done the old-fashioned way. If you’re a Trojans’ fan, this is how you win ballgames. Physical play is no stranger to the USC faithful. They expect it. On the other hand, if you cheer for UCLA, this was not the way the Bruins was supposed to end the regular season.
Early in the season, freshman quarterback Josh Rosen and the Bruins looked special, even spectacular at times. But as the season progressed, Rosen and the Bruins’ offense regressed and have turned ordinary of late. The Bruins faltered in their upset loss to Washington St. The USC defense then made the sensational Rosen look like an inexperienced, jittery signal-caller behind a ferocious pass rush and outstanding coverage from the secondary.
A defense that can lockup up wide receivers with a strong pass usually equates to disaster for an offense. By that assessment, Rosen and the Bruins had a miserable afternoon. Rosen threw two interceptions, had a fumble returned for a touchdown and completed just 19 of 37 passes against the Trojans. Besides the obvious physical dominance of the Trojans, this game was decided by big plays.
It turned out that USC had more playmakers than UCLA in this game. Adoree’ Jackson seemingly put the game away for the Trojans with a 42-yard punt return for a touchdown just before halftime. Rasheem Green then joined the party with a 31-yard scoop and return for a score in the third quarter to give USC an insurmountable lead.
The annual rivalry game between USC and UCLA has been lopsided in the Bruins’ favor the last couple of years. It’s been raining down powder blue and gold since Jim Mora took over the UCLA football program. Well, the bleeding finally stopped for the Trojans.
USC managed, not only to beat UCLA in a game that will now send the Trojans to the Pac-12 Conference championship, they manhandled the Bruins with physical play. Smash mouth football is how USC likes to play. That’s the tradition of the Trojans: Knock them on their rear ends and see what happens. Well, what happened is that Bruins didn’t really care much for getting hit in the mouth.
The Trojans kept hitting Rosen and the Bruins’ offense like there was no tomorrow. By midway of third quarter, it was clear that Rosen and the Bruins wanted no part of the Trojans’ defense. In other words, USC brought the hammer, the nails and the box to put the Bruins in.
To echo Ice Cube’s hit song, it was a good day for the Trojans. The Trojans have re-claimed the town. This city belongs to the Men of Troy.
After a three-year hiatus of giving up the Los Angeles City crown, the USC football team snatched it right back at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with their emphatic beating of the Bruins. The game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicate. The Trojans dropped the hammer on UCLA with a steady flow of pound the football on the ground that frazzled the Westwood visitors.
And there was nothing Mora and his Bruins could do to stop it. USC rushed for 235 yards on the game, strongly pushed by Justin Davis’ 130 yards and 63 yards by Ronald Jones II.