USC-UCLA: A game that matches the rivalry 

PASADENA (News4usonline) – Finally, UCLA and USC lived up to the billing of putting on a show. The head-to-head matchup between the crosstown and Pac-12 Conference rivals had everything in it except maybe a bag of chips. 

Dorian Thompson-Robinson had one of his best games as a Bruin, throwing for four touchdown passes and running for two more scores. All told, Thompson-Robinson totaled six touchdowns against the Trojans.

The UCLA Bruins gained 513 yards in a 48-45 defeat to the USC Trojans. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

 It’s too bad that the super senior also committed four turnovers (three interceptions) during the game, including throwing a pick on the last drive of the day for UCLA. Those turnovers wound up costing the Bruins an outside chance of knocking off the No. 7 Trojans. 

As it was, USC overcame an early two touchdown deficit to edge No. 16 UCLA 48-45 at the Rose Bowl Stadium. 

“How do I explain that we lost a three-point ballgame? I think that our players played with great effort today,” UCLA head coach Chip Kelly said after the game. “They did an unbelievable job, and we played against as good a quarterback as I have faced in my college career, watching what Caleb did tonight. I would give Caleb a lot of credit. That is a heck of a quarterback.”

Besides the big win against their city neighbors, the Trojans still have an outside chance of being in the top four teams in the country and being on the College Football Playoff Championship list if other programs slide. A win against Notre Dame in the team’s home finale would be icing on the cake for the Trojans, who are headed to the Pac-12 Championship.  

UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet (24) on the move against the USC Trojans. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

“Great game, obviously. Iconic type of game,” USC head coach Lincoln Riley said. “Lived up to the billing. Both teams are really good. A lot of back and forths. We talked about that with the guys last night, trying to prepare our team for what a rivalry game looks and feels like, the fact there’s going to be tons of emotion in it. There’s going to be a lot of momentum swings, and you have to be able to ride the wave, and stay in there. Honestly, too many examples to list of that. We found ways, a lot of highlights on both sides.”

Unfortunately for the Bruins, Thompson-Robisnon’s monster game was done in by all those turnovers that he committed. Thompson-Robinson had 309 passing yards and added another 81 yards on the ground to give UCLA more than a fighting chance against the Trojans. 

“He’s special and we have talked about it from his first start at Oklahoma until now,” Kelly said. “His toughness has been on display for the last five years and he’s as tough as they come. 

“That kid is a warrior. We wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t have the contributions that he has given us. He sets the tone. He sets the tone in practice and sets the tone every single day. You feel for him and you hurt for him, just because I know how much it means to him. You talk about leaving it on the field, Dorian literally leaves it on the field every time he plays.”

In fact, it was Thompson-Robinson who sparked the Bruins in the first quarter when he guided UCLA to a 14-0 lead. Despite the turnovers, whenever the Trojans looked as if they were going to play hide-and-seek from the Bruins, it was Thompson-Robinson who put UCLA in position to have the possibility to beat USC. 

“For me, that’s the one thing I love about this team,” Thompson-Robinson said about how the Bruins battled the Trojans. “I don’t ever have to question that on Saturdays. That’s the standard here – we’re going to play whistle to whistle and all the way until that last zero hits the clock. We just have to go back to the drawing board and fix it up and clean it up to be better for next week and play Cal.”

It’s safe to say that neither team really played defense the way it needed to be played. USC ramped up 649 yards on offense, while the Bruins cranked out 513.  As super of a night that Thompson-Robinson had for UCLA, Caleb Williams was just as spectacular for the Trojans. 

“Having coached some guys like that in the past, guys that win individual awards, you don’t focus on that,” Riley said about his quarterback. “Just try to win each week for your team. Those are the guys that do it. He’s been one of the best players in the country this year. He’s really played well. All those things, it’s got to stay about the ball, and that’s the most important thing.”

Williams, playing in his first rivalry game against UCLA, completed 32 of 43 passes for 470 yards and two touchdowns. He also added another 50 yards rushing and a score on the ground to boot. 

“I played in two other games that were large rivalries. I kind of went into this game expecting the same thing. It was gonna be a dogfight, you’re gonna have to do your job at a high level, and keep fighting, keep swinging because there’s been games where we’ve been down going into the fourth quarter, just trying to lead and keep my guys’ heads up because the game’s never over and these are big games.”

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