The UCLA Bruins hadn't defeated the Southern California Trojans since 2006 until Saturday, sealing a Pac-12 Championship berth in the process.
The Bruins' 38-28 win stunned USC and caused jubilation for a UCLA team that finally got over the hump versus its crosstown rival.
Matt Barkley was able to keep his team in the game with less than eight minutes left, hitting Marqise Lee for a touchdown and finding Robert Woods for the two-point conversion to make the score 31-28 UCLA.
However, when Barkley and the offense needed it the most, USC's defense couldn't get a stop. Johnathan Franklin's 29-yard touchdown run with 4:02 remaining put the Bruins up 10 and effectively ended the game.
The only news to come out of the game's remaining minutes was a possible Barkley injury. A hard sack in the game's waning minutes put Trojans No. 2 quarterback Max Wittek under center for the game's final plays.
UCLA came out scorching hot. Quarterback Brett Hundley accounted for two first-quarter touchdowns—one on the ground, one through the air—and Ka'imi Fairbairn sandwiched a successful field goal in between.
After the game's first 15 minutes, it was obvious that Jim Mora's squad came to play. Barkley's early interception didn't help, but the Bruins were dominating the game from the very beginning.
Franklin followed Hundley's touchdowns with a 16-yard scamper to start the second quarter, making the score 24-0.
Things didn't start to change until Barkley hit Nelson Agholor for a score to make it 17-7, and Randall Telfer minutes later to make it 24-14 heading into the half.
The game appeared to change on UCLA's first possession of the third quarter. The Bruins coughed the ball up, Hundley failed to fall on it and Trojans defender George Uko wound up falling on the ball in the end zone.
Andre Heidari missed the extra point, but, still, this seemed like a game-changer. The Bruins should have just fallen on the ball, but USC had clear momentum after this play.
Then this happened:
And Hundley eventually ran one in from three yards out to make the score 31-20 Bruins.
In the fourth quarter, Heidari missed a field goal that could have pulled the Trojans to within eight points. Offensive lineman Kevin Graf still can't believe it didn't go in:
The Trojans fought hard, but Barkley made a few key mistakes, and their defense couldn't get the key stops they needed. Hundley controlled the game for UCLA with Franklin's help in the backfield.
Let's take a deeper look at this one, starting with some Twitter reaction.
Los Angeles Daily News reporter Jill Painter commented on Jim Mora's handling of quarterback Brett Hundley:
Yahoo! Sports' Edward Lewis commented on the fumble recovery by Trojans defensive player George Uko to put USC behind 24-20 in the third quarter:
140 characters can't even begin to describe the fail that was that #UCLA fumble.— Edward Lewis (@EdwardLewisBSR) November 17, 2012
CBS Sports' Chris Huston made a bold statement:
Brett Hundley is easily the best QB in this game. In college and in the NFL.— Chris Huston (@HeismanPundit) November 17, 2012
I don't like Barkley's NFL chances either, but, wow, that's taking it to another level.
Pac-12 Digital's Bryan Fischer made a point after Barkley's second pick of the day:
And that might be the nail in the coffin for USC. 15th pick for Matt Barkley.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 17, 2012
Perhaps he should have entered the NFL draft last year.
ESPN's Chris Fowler sums up the game's tone following Franklin's late touchdown:
Every Man, Woman, and Child in #UCLA nation giddy. Franklin gets away with throat slash after TD, Troy in trouble now, down 10 late.— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) November 17, 2012
Franklin didn't wind up getting away with it, picking up a 15-yard personal foul, but everything else was right.
Key Difference: Critical Errors
It seems obvious, but Barkley's interceptions and Heidari's miscues made the difference. The Trojans couldn't get out of their own way, making it more difficult to beat a talented UCLA team.
Barkley has been prone to this all season long. Critical errors can overshadow a good game otherwise, especially when you don't have an elite defense behind you.
A plethora of missed tackles on defense combined with several issues on offense sunk the Trojans ship.
Player of the Game: Johnathan Franklin
This could easily be Hundley as well, but Franklin's run with 4:02 remaining put this one on ice.
With 29 carries for 171 yards and two touchdowns, he turned in the game that Bruins fans have come to expect from him.
Hundley paced UCLA with his steady pocket presence, but Franklin dropped the hammer consistently. He's a home-run threat out of the backfield, and he brought his A-game in his team's biggest game.
The Trojans had no answer for his shifty, strong running, and he made the ultimate difference.
UCLA will host Stanford next week, while USC welcomes heated rival Notre Dame to the West Coast.
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