USC vs UCLA Score: Trojans Rout Bruins For 7th Straight Win
Saturday night’s USC vs UCLA score fell in the favor of the red-hot Trojans, who picked up their 7th-straight victory 36-14 over the Bruins to finish with a 7-2 Pac-12 record.
The lowdown: After struggling to start the game on the right foot, giving up a 56-yard touchdown pass on the fourth play of the game, the Trojans flipped the switch in the second quarter and took it to a struggling UCLA Bruins team.
Down 14-7 following a Sam Darnold interception that set up Jordan Lasley’s second touchdown catch, USC rallied.
They gained 338 yards and scored 26 points on their next six drives, all while holding UCLA to just 32 yards during that stretch.
USC did it with a commitment to the run –Ronald Jones rattled off a 60-yard touchdown– and Darnold’s ability to make plays on the fly to negate a Bruin pass rush led by Takkarist McKinley.
Darnold found De’Quan Hampton for a pair of touchdowns, after the JC transfer saw his playing time increase with No. 1 receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster laboring through a hip injury.
Defensively, the turnaround was all about controlling the line of scrimmage. After a successful first quarter on the ground, UCLA seemingly abandoned the run. It allowed the Trojans to get pressure on backup quarterback Mike Fafaul.
The final dagger was an 18-play, 73-yard scoring drive that swallowed up 9:02 of clock. Though USC only settled for a field goal, it essentially killed off the game by making a three-score game at 33-14 early in the fourth quarter.
The takeaway: The Trojans didn’t put together their finest performance early on, rushing for just one yard in the first quarter and turning the ball over twice in the first half. It led to USC trailing in the second quarter or later for the first time since losing to Utah on September 23rd.
But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. USC being able to flip a switch and turn it around with 29 unanswered points was impressive for a team and coaching staff that struggled to handle with adversity early in the season.
After trailing 14-7, they flat out dominated UCLA. Even at halftime, they had a 326 to 164 advantage in total yards. By the end of the third quarter, the Trojans had run 75 plays to the Bruins’ 35.
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That’s how you respond. That’s how you prevent what looked to be a letdown performance a week after beating No. 4 Washington.
Player of the game: Saturday night was the Sam Darnold Show. Though he had a pair of interceptions, it was his ability to improvise and use his legs that proved the difference when the Trojans needed a spark after slogging through the first quarter. The freshman finished by going 25-of-36 passing for 267 yards, with two touchdowns and two picks. Darnold added 27 yards on nine carries.
Stat of the game: De’Quan Hampton caught two touchdown passes vs. UCLA, the first two of his career. He entered the game with just four catches for 22 receiving yards.
Next on tap: With a 7-2 conference record in tow and a 8-3 mark overall, only Notre Dame remains on the schedule. The Trojans will play host to the Irish next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on ABC.