It’s plain as the nose on Head Coach Lane Kiffin’s and Rick Neuheisel’s faces that USC and UCLA are on different paths.
As usual, the Trojans remain in the driver’s seat, while the Bruins are trying to find their way. Kiffin’s job is secure. The same cannot be said for Neuheisel.
USC trashed Syracuse at the Coliseum, 38-17, last Saturday behind a school-tying five touchdown passes from junior quarterback Matt Barkley.
Across town at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins were pushed aside by the Texas Longhorns, 49-20.
The Trojans, despite a two-year bowl ban, and having 30 scholarships lifted over three seasons, have dropped some since the glory days when Pete Carroll, now with the Seattle Seahawks, was in charge, but not that much.
USC escaped with a 19-17 win over visiting Minnesota in its season opener, and defeated Utah 23-14 at home. Neither contest was an artistic success.
Barkley’s bonanza spotlights the need for a quality signal-caller, something UCLA hasn’t had in at least a decade.
After Syracuse took a 3-0 lead midway through the opening quarter, Barkley (26 of 39 for 324 yards) found fullback Rhett Ellison (31 yards on five receptions) with a five-yard pass and 3:25 left to make it 7-3.
Barkley went to work and made it 14-3 when he drilled wide receiver Robert Woods (82 yards and eight catches) with a 31-yard rocket as 7:33 remained before the intermission.
Barkley’s 44-yard pass to tight end Randall Telfer made it 24-3 early in the third quarter, and it became 31-10 when he found wide receiver Marqise Lee with a 43-yard toss and 2:54 showing in the same quarter. The cherry on the cake was Barkley’s nine-yard scoring pass to tight end Xavier Grimble early in the fourth quarter.
In the opener, the Bruins lost to host Houston 38-34, but rebounded with a 27-17 victory over visiting San Jose State.
Against the Longhorns, the Bruins were punctured for 284 rushing yards, with Malcolm Brown gaining 110 yards on 22 rushes, and Fozzy Whittaker adding 63 yards on eight carries.
Whittaker’s eight-yard blast with 1:56 left in the first quarter made it 14-0, and Brown’s 16-yard prance with 11:36 on the clock in the second quarter pushed Texas‘ lead to 21-0. Whittaker also had a 36-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince was intercepted three times in the opening half, and was benched in favor of Richard Brehaut, who passed for 150 yards.