When does a rivalry cease being one? UCLA and USC faced off this past Saturday night at the Coliseum, and for the fifth straight time, and 12th in 13th meeting, the Trojans prevailed.
The manner in which USC dismissed its main foe was stunning, as the Trojans put a 50-0 pasting on the Bruins.
This seemed predictable given UCLA lost to Texas by 29 points, Stanford by 26, Arizona by 36, and Utah by 25.
The Bruins had no answer for the Trojans, and junior quarterback Matt Barkley was a man on a mission.
“I’m so proud of these guys and how they played when there was nothing to play for,’’ said USC Head Coach Lane Kiffin. “They never gave up and they played hard.”
Barkley may have suited up for the last time, and if that’s the case, exited in style as he tied his career and school-record with six touchdown passes. Barkley completed 35 of 42 passes for 423 yards.
USC (572 total net yards) was a juggernaut and appeared tough to handle based on the ease in which it moved the ball.
On their first possession, the Trojans, who ended a two-year bowl ban by the NCAA, used four plays and traveled 72 yards, with Barkley finding wide receiver Marqise Lee with a 42-yard pass. It was 7-0 early, and the 93,607 fans were just getting settled into their seats.
The Bruins (385 total yards) did mount three solid drives. The first was a 79-yard, 12-play march that resulted in Derrick Coleman getting stuffed at the USC one-yard line.
UCLA had a 64-yard, seven-play march end at USC’s seven-yard line when quarterback Kevin Prince (21 of 33 for 261 yards) was intercepted by T.J. McDonald in the end zone.
A 77-yard, 12-play drive concluded on downs for the Bruins (6-6), who will play in the initial Pac 12 Conference title game on Friday at Oregon, which trounced Oregon State 49-21.
USC went ahead 14-0 when Curtis McNeal (124 yards on 12 carries) raced around the left side for a 73-yard romp and 5:16 left.
No. 10 USC (10-2) made it 22-0 on Barkley’s one-yard pass to tight end Randall Telfer early in the second quarter. Kiffin opted for the two-point conversion as Barkley found Xavier Grimble.
UCLA fell behind 29-0 when Rhett Ellison hauled in Barkley’s four-yard offering with 6:53 remaining before the intermission.
USC’s advantage became 36-0 when Barkley hit Lee (224 yards and 13 catches) with a 52-yard pass as 10:55 was left in the third quarter.
“That’s Matt Barkley being Matt Barkley,’’ said Lee, a freshman who teamed up with Woods to become the fourth duo in school history to grab 100 catches for 1,000 yards.
When Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods collaborated on a four-yard toss and just under four minutes left in the same quarter, it was 43-0.
There were chants of “one more year, one more year,’’ for Barkley, who may enter the NFL.
“I heard that all game long,’’ said Woods, a sophomore who had 12 catches for 113 yards, and set USC and Pac-12 records for most receptions in a season. “We have to get Matt back for one more year.”
Barkley’s 41-yard pass to Woods early in the fourth quarter gave USC a 50-0 lead.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.