“There’s something growing there that’s pretty special,” Mora said. “It just tells you where this program is headed.”
The rivalry lived up to its billing, fueled even more by pregame trash talk.
At USC’s annual Conquest Rally on Monday night, interim head coach Ed Orgeron fired up Troy by saying, “Come Saturday night, we’re going to let those little boys from across town into our stadium and we’re going to lock the gates.”
“I thought our little boys played pretty good tonight,” Mora slyly responded, after the game.
The Bruins busted the gates open in the first quarter when Jack ran into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown. They racked up 396 offensive yards and no gate, fence or any other metaphorical defense mechanism could have contained Hundley, who eluded the Trojans’ defense with his legs, running for 80 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another 208.
“We tried everything,” Orgeron said. “We tried what we call a push rush. We started blitzing and they started splitting us. It seemed like everything that did, they countered.
The lone bright spot for the Trojans was running back Buck Allen, who ran for 123 yards and a touchdown. Cody Kessler completed 17 of 28 passes for 174 yards, but after losing two offensive lineman early, the UCLA defense sacked him six times for a total loss of 43 yards.
“They did a good job rushing,” Kessler said. “When you have guys like that that are rushing and are big and strong, there came crucial times and some caused turnovers and some bad decisions on my part.”
The perennial underdogs won the battle last year at home in the Rose Bowl but still, many around town felt it was just a fluke. No one can deny that Mora has the program on the rise but some felt they haven’t arrived yet – but beat the Trojans twice, and then the arrival becomes more real.
“Nobody gave us any credit last year,” Hundley said. “This win validates it.”
“I watched (ESPN) College Gameday this morning, nobody counted us to win this game,” Jack said. “We knew in the back of our minds that if we went out and played our game, we would win this game and that’s what happened tonight.”
All of the questions about whether or not Hundley and Orgeron will be back with their respective teams next season can be set aside for a few more days. Each team still has a bowl game left to play.
But regardless of the bowl outcomes, the Bruins are secure in knowing the Victory Bell will stay with them another year: UCLA is still the top team in Los Angeles.
“There is nothing like a night like tonight,” Mora said. “That was more exciting than playing the dang Super Bowl.”