Pac-12: Trojans-Bruins-111712

More of the same versus UCLA

November, 17, 2012
After a 38-28 loss to the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, the USC Trojans' dreams of a Pac-12 title in 2012 are officially over and are replaced by the reality of what was seen on the field.

In so many ways, the Trojans' performance in this critical crosstown matchup, one that determined the Pac-12 South representative in the conference championship game, was symbolic of the entire USC season.

Read Garry Paskwietz's full post on WeAreSC

Jim Mora loving the college experience

November, 17, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. -- At the podium, flanked by digital recorders and with dozens of cameras and eyes staring at him, UCLA coach Jim Mora is a cool customer. He is a veteran coach with decades of experience from his time in the NFL. Despite the significance and magnitude of the moment, he wasn’t going to get wide-eyed -- or at least let on that he was.

“It’s very special,” Mora said of his team’s 38-28 win over rival USC -- a game that locked up the Pac-12 South for the Bruins. “I don’t want to minimize it, but I also believe as the head football coach it’s important to keep an even keel as much as possible.”

Fast-forward about an hour and a half, this time flanked by his family outside the front gates of the Rose Bowl. Out of his Gatorade-soaked coaching gear and into a suit, Mora took a quiet moment under a dark and drizzly Southern California sky to soak in his first victory in the 82nd meeting of the two schools. No cameras, only one digital recorder.

“It’s pure, it’s just pure emotion, and it comes off of the kids,” Mora said. “They are so genuine, and I just try to absorb it. In the locker room after the game, the way they were just dancing around and acting and the enthusiasm is so raw. It’s just awesome. They are so passionate because their time is limited. They are doing it because they love to do it. They aren’t getting paid yet.

"I just love the college game. I love the pageantry. I loved that both teams were in their home uniforms. I thought that was so awesome. I just got a kick out of watching their student body and our student body. It was just really, really cool.”

Mora’s hiring was met with a tepid response at best. He was hard, and his players knew it. He had an NFL mentality that had been fostered since he first started in The League in 1985. When it was announced the team was going to spend part of preseason camp in San Bernardino in August, eyes rolled -- along with sweat beads.

[+] EnlargeJim Mora
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesJim Mora was rewarded Friday with a one-year contract extension after a season in which UCLA posted its first victory against USC since 2006.
“It wasn’t always easy,” said UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria. “There were up and downs. It was his idea to put us in San Bernardino in 120-degree weather. I didn’t like him the whole time. It was like ‘what are you doing to us?’ But we trusted him, because he’s our head coach. We didn’t have to like it. We just had to trust him. He’s been through it with us and he loves it here and I love him for being here and he’s going to keep doing it here.”

On Saturday night, Mora helped orchestrate a defense that forced three USC turnovers en route to the win -- UCLA’s first over the Trojans since 2006. It’s a far cry from last year’s 50-0 stomping the now No. 17 Bruins (9-2, 6-2) suffered at the hands of the Trojans, which had won 12 of the past 13 contests.

Mora declined to comment on the “monopoly” that USC had held over Los Angeles football for more than a decade. Ever the head coach in front of the cameras, he continually stressed that this is just one win.

“I’ll just go back to following the routine,” Mora said.

“But this isn’t routine,” quipped a Los Angeles columnist in the news conference, hoping to get Mora to open up a bit more.

“Well, it is for me,” said Mora. “I’m 1-0 [in the rivalry].”

That drew a laugh.

Behind 171 rushing yards and two touchdowns from UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin and a 22-for-30 performance from redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley, the Bruins jumped on USC 24-0 in the first half. UCLA forced a pair of turnovers and turned both into touchdowns. The Bruins scored three touchdowns and a field goal on their first four possessions.

But the No. 18 Trojans (7-4, 5-4) battled back behind a pair of Matt Barkley touchdowns. He finished 20-for-38 for 301 yards with three scores and two interceptions. He was knocked out late in the fourth quarter, and the extent of his injury wasn’t immediately known. He did talk to reporters briefly after the game, but his throwing arm (believed to be the source of the injury) was covered by a jacket.

Marqise Lee was his usual, outstanding self, catching nine balls for 158 yards and a touchdown.

The Trojans cut the deficit to a field goal with 7:22 left, but a 29-yard touchdown run from Franklin iced the game, sparked a Gatorade bath and propelled the Bruins into the conference title game for the second straight year. This time, there are no asterisks.

“It’s all coach,” said Hundley. “From day one, we bought into him. Yeah, it was hard, but it’s supposed to be hard. Look where we are now.”

And look at where Mora is. He is 3-0 against the three other new head coaches in the conference -- Rich Rodriguez, Todd Graham and Mike Leach -- and whether he wants to admit it, there is a sense that things are going to be changing in L.A. for the years to come.

“He gives the same message every day,” said UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. “He’s tough. But he’s fair, and they love him. There is some tough love involved. But as a head coach, he’s off the charts.”

Video: UCLA's Joseph Fauria

November, 17, 2012

UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria talks about the Buins' 38-28 win over USC.

Instant analysis: UCLA 38, USC 28

November, 17, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. -- A wild game in Southern California ended with the crowning of a Pac-12 South champion and clear power shift in Los Angeles. Here’s how it all went down at the Rose Bowl.

It was over when: Johnathan Franklin dashed for a 29-yard touchdown run with 4:02 left in the game -- extending UCLA’s lead to 38-28.

It was really over when: Sheldon Price blocked a 38-yard USC field goal attempt with 1:31 left in the game.

Game ball goes to: For as poised and impressive as redshirt freshman Brett Hundley was, it’s got to be Franklin, who blew up in a big way by rushing for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.

Unsung hero: UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks had a monster game, notching eight tackles, a forced fumble and an interception.

Stat of the game -- 14: The number of UCLA points off of turnovers.

What it means for UCLA: The Bruins claim the Pac-12 South. Depending on what happens in tonight’s Stanford-Oregon game, UCLA might control the outcome of who wins the North. If Stanford wins tonight, the Cardinal could wrap up the North next week when they travel to UCLA. It’s a bizarre scenario. Or, UCLA could get a crack at the Ducks if Oregon wins tonight. Either way, there are no asterisks this year for the Bruins.

What it means for USC: For starters, a lot of looking in the mirror. The turnovers were killers, and now they have to close out a disappointing year -- against an undefeated Notre Dame team -- knowing they have no shot at playing in a BCS bowl game. This was the cherry on USC’s bummer sundae.

Halftime: UCLA 24, USC 14

November, 17, 2012
PASADENA, Calif. -- Just when it looked like the UCLA Bruins were going to pull away, Matt Barkley and the USC Trojans brushed off a horrific start and trail 24-14 at halftime.

The Bruins jumped out to a 24-0 lead, capitalizing on a Barkley interception on the first offensive play of the game and a Marqise Lee fumble.

A very efficient first half from quarterback Brett Hundley (16-of-19, 141 yards, one passing touchdown, one rushing) and the powerful running of Johnathan Franklin had the Bruins in the driver’s seat.

But after UCLA scored on its fourth straight possession, Barkley finally got USC on the board with 5:58 left in the half on a 33-yard touchdown to Nelson Agholor. The Trojans defense finally got a stop and Barkley hit Randall Telfer on a 2-yard touchdown pass.

Barkley is 9-of-15 for 135 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. UCLA gets the ball to start the second half.

USC-UCLA pregame

November, 17, 2012
PASADENA, Calif. -- Good morning from The Rose Bowl and not-so-sunny Southern California.

The most obvious storyline for this afternoon’s game between USC and UCLA is that the winner is the Pac-12 South champion and punches its ticket to the Pac-12 championship game.

But there are also plenty of subplots -- like the resurgence of the Bruins under new head coach Jim Mora and the fact that UCLA is ranked ahead of USC for the first time since 2001.

But the Trojans have a pretty good offensive weapon named Marqise Lee. The receiver has 663 receiving yards and five touchdowns in his past three games. For the season, Lee has seven 100-yard receiving games, which leads the Pac-12 and is tied for the most in FBS. He has 792 yards after the catch, the most of any player from an AQ school.

Look for him to tax a UCLA defense that ranks 10th in the conference against the pass and yields 266 yards per game.

UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin has been pretty good also -- especially when he runs outside the tackles, where he averages 8 yards per carry.

With plenty of offensive weapons on both sidelines and middle-of-the-road defenses, we’re expecting a high scoring affair.



Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12