After a promising start, USC was taken down by UCLA in dominating fashion on Saturday, losing by a final score of 38-20. For the Bruins, it’s their third consecutive victory in the crosstown series.
Linebacker Anthony Sarao kicked things off for the Trojans on the right foot, intercepting a Brett Hundley pass and returning it 17 yards for a touchdown to give USC a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
But with Steve Sarkisian’s squad committing two first-half turnovers of their own, the USC offensive line struggling to protect Cody Kessler, and the Trojans defensive front unable to apply pressure on UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, the Bruins quickly seized control of the game and didn’t look back.
UCLA led by a score of 24-14 at halftime, and 38-14 after three quarters of play.
Under siege throughout the game, Kessler was never able to get in sync with his receivers. On the night, he completed 22 of 34 passes for 214 yards and one touchdown with one interception. He was sacked by the Bruins six times – a game-high for UCLA this season. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who had 16 grabs in the Trojans’ previous contest against Cal, muffed a punt return early that led to a UCLA touchdown, and he caught a total of just three passes for 24 yards.
With plenty of time to sit back in the pocket, meanwhile, Hundley picked apart the USC secondary, completing 22 of 31 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. The junior signal caller also rushed for one touchdown against a Trojans defense that for the first time this season included Josh Shaw. The senior defensive back saw sporadic time at cornerback, nickelback as well as on special teams.
With the loss, USC falls to 7-4 overall, and 6-3 in Pac-12 play. UCLA improves to 9-2 overall, and 6-2 in conference play, and they can take the Pac-12 South Division crown with a victory over Stanford on Friday.
Some individual offensive stats for the Trojans:
Kessler – 22 of 34, 214 Yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Buck Allen – 14 Rush, 60 Yds, 1 TD
Justin Davis – 9 Rush, 37 Yds
Adoree’ Jackson – 1 Rush, 5 Yds
Kessler – 8 Rush, -40 Yds
Soma Vainuku – 1 Rush, 0 Yds
Agholor – 3 Rec, 24 Yds
Allen – 7 Rec, 42 Yds
Davis – 4 Rec, 25 Yds
Bryce Dixon – 1 Rec, 12 Yds
George Farmer – 2 Rec, 21 Yds
Darreus Rogers – 1 Rec, 11 Yds
JuJu Smith – 4 Rec, 79 Yds