Regime change: Hundley leads No. 17 UCLA past No. 21 USC 38-28 as Bruins clinch Pac-12 South
PASADENA, Calif. — When Anthony Barr roared through the line and hit Matt Barkley squarely in the No. 7 on his back, the roar rising out of the Rose Bowl was loud enough for a whole city to hear.
After so many years underneath Southern California, UCLA is on top of Los Angeles and the Pac-12 South, thanks to a first-year head coach and a freshman quarterback who don’t realize they’ve done something that’s not usual.
“Well, it is for me,” Jim Mora said.
Brett Hundley passed for 234 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two more scores as No. 17 UCLA beat No. 21 USC 38-28 Saturday, clinching the Pac-12 South title and emphatically snapping a five-game losing streak in their crosstown showdown.
Eric Kendricks blocked a punt and made a fourth-quarter interception for the Bruins (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12), who overcame intermittent second-half rain and USC’s star-studded lineup with a steady effort.
“When the season started, obviously nobody thought we were going to do what we’re doing now,” said Hundley, who went 22 for 30 and didn’t throw an interception. “But we all knew deep down inside that we could do it, that we had the talent. We can do everything we set our mind to, as long as we work hard.”
A year after USC obliterated the Bruins 50-0 in a game that led to a coaching change in Westwood, UCLA punctuated its one-year revitalization under Mora with its first win over the Trojans (7-4, 5-4) since 2006 — just their second in 14 years. The Bruins celebrated in the corner of the Rose Bowl and again with an impromptu dance-off in the locker room, even while Mora reminded them they’ve still got three games to play.
“It’s a great moment, and I’m excited,” said Mora, the winningest first-year coach in UCLA history. “I can’t wait to hug my mom, shake my dad’s hand and kiss my kids. I don’t want to minimize it at all.”
Johnathan Franklin rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns for UCLA, including a clutch 29-yard scoring run with 4:02 to play after USC trimmed its deficit to three points.
Shaquelle Evans had eight catches for 114 yards for UCLA, which clinched a spot in the Pac-12 title game in two weeks with its fifth consecutive win. The Bruins also played in that game last year, but only by default after finishing two games behind postseason-banned USC.
Everything has changed in Los Angeles this season: UCLA entered this showdown with a higher ranking and more victories than USC for the first time in a decade, and the Bruins backed it up.
“It’s a great night, but we’ve got so many things we still want to do,” Franklin said. “We’re going to enjoy it, but we were confident coming into this game.”
Barkley passed for 301 yards and three touchdowns, but threw two interceptions in the Trojans’ third loss in four games. USC was the preseason’s No. 1 team, but will return to the postseason in a lower-tier bowl after next week’s regular-season finale against Notre Dame.
“You wouldn’t think we would lose this game with a senior quarterback versus a freshman,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “We’re extremely disappointed with this season. We’re too talented to have that many losses.”