LOS ANGELES, CA ((News4usonline) – You can never judge a book by its cover. With that said, the USC-UCLA football game started off in the Bruins’ favor with the visitors striking the scoring paydirt first.
The United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum all of a sudden got a bit quiet as the Bruins punched a hole in the USC defense to open the game with a 7-0 lead on its opening drive.
Looks can be deceiving. USC spotted UCLA that 7-0 lead and then turned around and ran away from the Bruins, scoring a 52-35 win and securing their spot in the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game with a Rose Bowl Berth on the line. The Trojans (8-4 overall, 7-2 Pac-12 Conference) second in the Pac-12 Conference South Division behind Utah, gets the invite because of its early season defeat of the Utes.
The Trojans were able to achieve this feat behind a record-breaking afternoon by quarterback Kedon Slovis and his pass-catching crew. Slovis threw the ball 47 times against UCLA. He completed 37 of those against the Bruins for a school-record 515 yards and four touchdowns.
“I’m just thankful to have an opportunity,” Slovis said. “Going into the year I didn’t think I’d be in the starting role. Obviously it’s unfortunate that it was due to injury, but you know when the opportunity comes, you have to make the most of it and the opportunity came which I’m really grateful for.”
So, who were those guys that Slovis was tossing the ball all over the field to? Obviously, they are big-time playmakers, and Slovis admitted they have made his life on the football field a lot easier.
“Like coach said, any of you in here could throw for a couple hundred yards with these receivers,” said Slovis. “So yeah, it is exciting to put up numbers but I think I really have a good team around me that makes it happen.”
USC had four receivers catch passes for 100 yards or more. London Drake caught eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. Amon-Ra St. Brown also caught eight passes. His receptions netted 128 yards. Tyler Vaughns totaled six catches for 106 yards. Finally, Mr. Magician-Michael Pittman-found his way into the endzone twice while catching 13 passes for 104 yards.
“It’s funny because no, I didn’t see him becoming the new superstar of college football. I will that his decision making has improved and become more efficient. We weren’t making plays like this earlier this year so that’s probably the biggest difference.”
The Trojans will get a second chance to face off against Oregon for the conference title. This time the Rose Bowl berth will be on the line. For the way that USC head coach Clay Helton has had to hold and piece this team together, it would be ceremonial justice for the Trojans to be able to play on New Year’s Day.
First, the USC football team had to play through losing its starting quarterback in the first game of the season. The Trojans then had to go through an internal clean-up after the longtime athletic director Lynn Swann was let go and replaced. There’s been highs. There have been low moments as well. With their pummeling of their crosstown rivals, the Trojans are riding a big high.
“Never quit the fight, we believed in the process,” Helton said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of them for finishing like they have to stay strong and thank them for their trust in us as a coaching staff and what they did today. I couldn’t be any happier, it gives us the opportunity to be in Santa Clara, we’re going to be the biggest Wildcat and Buffalo fans over the next two weeks.”
“We’ve put ourselves in a position to have a great December, and we’ll see how it goes,” Helton continued. “I’m so proud of our seniors, and I’d like to thank them, especially our senior captains between Michael Pittman, Christian Rector, John Houston and Jordan losefa, their leadership is phenomenal and I’m so glad they got the opportunity to bring the victory bell back home to USC. I’d also like to thank Dr. Bartner, to hug him, he’s the best at what he does. It was emotional to see him do his thing for the last time in the Coliseum. It was a great day to be a Trojan.”
UCLA (4-7 overall, 4-4 Pac-12 Conference) ends the season on a less than positive note, surrendering 643 yards worth of offense and 34 first downs to the Trojans. UCLA coach Chip Kelly said the Trojans, paced by Slovis’ pin-point accuracy throwing the football, is a tough unit to defend.
“We played against really good QB today,” Kelly said after the game. “They have a lot of weapons and it’s really difficult to defend them. There’s not just one receiver to watch. Give Kedon Slovis credit, he did a good job against us.”