UCLA hosted Utah in a Pacific 12 Conference clash at the Rose Bowl this past Saturday, while USC traveled to the Emerald City and visited Washington at Century Link Field.
Each came away with close wins, something very much welcomed at this juncture in the college football season.
The Bruins’ 21-14 decision over the Utes wasn’t an artistic masterpiece, but first-year Head Coach Jim Mora Jr. is pleased, and so is USC’s Lane Kiffin after the Trojans held on for a 24-14 triumph.
These developments are significant because when USC and UCLA meet November 17 at the Arroyo Seco, it could be one of the best games in recent memory given that each team should have a winning record, and something important will be at stake.
UCLA redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley had modest numbers, as did senior Matt Barkley, his counterpart atTroy, a one-time Heisman Trophy front-runner, who has fallen off some.
Hundley finished with 183 passing yards, while hitting 15 of 21 attempts with no interceptions.
Hundley’s 64-yard bomb down the right sideline to wide receiver Shaquelle Evans (91 yards and four receptions) with 3:24 left in the first quarter extended UCLA’s lead to 14-7.
Hundley’s 12-yard run up the middle with 5:36 showing in the same quarter gave UCLA a 7-0 edge, and capped a 13-play, 69-yard march.
“These are gut-wrenching games, but that’s what we live for,” said Mora. “They’re [Utah] a good team, and we’re trying to be a good team.”
The Bruins (5-2 and 2-2 in conference) amassed 171 yards on the ground, with Hundley churning out 68 on 15 carries, with a long of 14 yards.
UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin carried the ball a game-high 22 times, and collected a game-best 79 yards that included a three-yard scoring jaunt with 6:04 left in the third quarter that made it 21-7.
Meanwhile, Barkley connected on 10 of 20 passes for 167 yards with one touchdown and one pick.
Barkley’s 18-yard throw to tight end Xavier Grimble (42 yards and two catches) came with 12:22 left in the second quarter, and pushed the Huskies into a 17-7 hole.
“I’m just happy we’re getting on that plane with a victory,” said Kiffin. “It’s not easy getting wins up here.”
USC wide receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee were kept in check byWashington’s cornerbacks, as Woods had five catches for 88 yards and Lee two for 32 yards.
PennStatetransfer Silas Redd had the biggest impact as he ran for a game-leading 155 yards on 26 rushes, and Curtis McNeal added 58 yards on 11 carries.
The Trojans totaled 204 yards on the ground, and Redd’s 11-yard sprint with 10:29 showing in the opening quarter gave USC (5-1 and 3-1 in conference) a 10-0 margin, and it followed Andre Heidari’s 23-yard field goal early in the first quarter that ended a 60-yard, five-play drive.
USC’s final points came on a blocked punt by Anthony Brown with 4:41 left in the second quarter, who scooped up the ball and sprinted 21 yards.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, 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.