One of college football's biggest rivalry games went out with a relative whimper Saturday night, as No. 9 UCLA took down No. 19 USC with relative ease by the score of 38-20. Brett Hundley passed for over 300 yards with four total touchdowns in the victory (three passing, one rushing), leaving the Bruins one win away from a Pac-12 South title. The quarterback is now 3-0 in his career against the Trojans.
USC got on the board first with Anthony Sarao's pick six, but then made a mistake of its own to help the Bruins score a touchdown. The Trojans muffed a punt within their own 10-yard line, setting up Brett Hundley's 10-yard touchdown pass to Devin Lucien, tying the game.
After a USC three-and-out, Hundley found Thomas Duarte over the middle on a beautiful slant route. The wide receiver was able to beat his man off the break, taking it to the house for the 57-yard score and the lead.
USC later tied it up on a short touchdown pass by Cody Kessler, but a late Eric Kendricks interception set up Hundley's third touchdown pass of the half and a 24-14 UCLA lead at the break. Trojan fans were not pleased.
The Bruins were able to ride that strong finish to the first half by opening the second with a 10-yard touchdown run by Paul Perkins. Just two minutes later, Hundley ran it in from 15 yards out, giving UCLA a 38-14 lead. A late USC touchdown brought the Trojans closer, but the Bruins' win was never in doubt in the second half.
Three things we learned
1. UCLA is your Pac-12 South favorite. If the Bruins beat Stanford, they're in. A loss, and the winner of Arizona-Arizona State is in. The once-convoluted South picture has now come into clearer focus, with UCLA just a win away from its second division title in three years under Jim Mora.
Good UCLA can be scary -- Brett Hundley had an excellent game behind an improved offensive line, and the Bruins' defensive front mauled the USC offensive line throughout the game. Hundley finished 22-of-31 with 326 yards and three touchdowns (as well as another score on the ground), while the Bruins sacked Cody Kessler six times.
2. An in-form Bruins squad could cause Oregon problems. We've seen teams with strong front sevens bully Oregon around before, and UCLA has one of the best linebacking duos in the country in Eric Kendricks and Myles Jack. The Bruins have been inconsistent this season, but they've shown an ability to blow out Pac-12 contenders; see today against USC and their 62-27 beatdown at Arizona State.
3. The jury is still out on Steve Sarkisian at USC. The Trojans brought in a lot of promising young talent in Sarkisian's first class (cornerback Adoree' Jackson looks particularly good), but they still look a long way from a finished project. Penalties, offensive line issues and turnovers hurt USC in this one, and they're now a loss to Notre Dame away from a 7-5 mark -- one not unfamiliar to Washington fans from Sarkisian's time in Seattle.