UCLA vs. Southern Cal: Winners and Losers from Week 12
Well Southern Cal, it looks like your foes from across town are ready to make some noise and become prevalent in this rivalry once again.
The No. 15 UCLA Bruins took it to crosstown rival USC, beating them by a score of 38-28 in front of a highly energetic crowd at the Rose Bowl. With the victory, UCLA became the Pac-12 South Division champions.
For the last decade, Southern Cal has thoroughly dominated not only the series but the city of Los Angeles as well. After the way UCLA won this past Saturday, coupled with Southern Cal's troubles as a program, it seems as if the pendulum might be slowly swinging towards the Bruins.
Let's take a look at winners and losers from the contest.
Winners: Johnathan Franklin and Brett Hundley
The dynamic duo of Johnathan Franklin and Brett Hundley was a big reason why UCLA won this game.
Let's face it, Hundley is no ordinary redshirt freshman.
He's demonstrated a maturity and poise on the field throughout the season that's far beyond his years, and it was no different in this contest.
The winner of this game dictated who would represent the South Division in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Couple that with the fact that Southern Cal is the biggest rival UCLA has, and it would not have been a surprise to see Hundley struggle somewhat.
However, Hundley showed great precision and touch on throws—frequently connecting downfield with Joseph Fauria and Shaq Evans. He was able to make throws with pinpoint accuracy and lofted passes in between Trojan defenders on multiple occasions. For the game, Hundley went 22 of 30 for 234 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for two scores.
Franklin also displayed why he not only should be an All-Pac-12 selection but an All-American as well.
The Dorsey High School product rushed 29 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns. His will to not only evade defenders but churn forward for extra yards really propelled the offensive success enjoyed by the Bruins.
Franklin scored on this 29-yard touchdown run, icing the victory for UCLA.
Loser: Matt Barkley
Heading into this season, the mantra that Southern Cal preached was "unfinished business".
This slogan was eventually turned into a marketing campaign (that included t-shirts) and was used as rationalization as to why Matt Barkley turned down the NFL in favor of returning for his senior year.
Barkley and the Trojans hoped to be competing for the BCS National Championship, and Barkley had hopes of winning the Heisman.
To put it mildly, this season hasn't quite turned out as expected.
The loss to UCLA was Barkley's first. The signal-caller threw an interception in traffic on the first play of the game—setting the stage for UCLA to score its first touchdown. Later in the third quarter, a forced throw resulted in yet another turnover. On this specific drive, Southern Cal was trying to take the lead and put pressure on the Bruins.
To add insult to injury, Barkley was absolutely demolished on a blindside hit by Bruins' outside linebacker Anthony Barr.
Needless to say, the Mater Dei product never returned to the contest. It has been confirmed that Barkley has suffered a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, and is likely out for the rest of the season—including against Notre Dame this weekend.
There's no question that Barkley's had a fantastic college career. He will go down as one of the better quarterbacks to ever play at Southern Cal.
However, he made a mistake by coming back this season.
His draft stock has dropped dramatically, and he could very well have been a top-five pick if he had chosen to leave after last season.
Choosing to come back and forgo millions of dollars and playing for a team that has massively underachieved probably was not in Barkley's best interest.
Winner: The City of Los Angeles
A huge winner in this game is the city of Los Angeles. This was an incredibly entertaining game, with plenty of fireworks, pageantry, emotion and jubilation.
Before this contest, Southern Cal had won 12 of the 13 previous meetings between the two schools. In essence, this has become a Trojans town from a college football perspective. UCLA was considered a soft afterthought while Southern Cal had not only star appeal, but also a raw, gritty, urban feel.
Combining the totality of the season in addition to the win over Southern Cal, the Bruins program appears to be in the midst of a resurgence.
This game had implications for the first time in maybe 20 years.
The winner was to become the Pac-12 South Division champion, and it was an intriguing contest because both teams were actually prevalent for the first time in a long time.
For the city of Los Angeles, it's great when both UCLA and Southern Cal are doing well. With the Bruin' program seemingly heading in a positive direction, the rivalry should be reignited and meaningful in the near future.
That in and of itself is rather significant, considering how dormant the rivalry has been recently due to UCLA's ineptness.
Loser: Lane Kiffin
Here's a startling tidbit from Arash Markazi for Southern Cal fans: USC became the first school since Ole Miss in 1964 to start the season as the No. 1 team in the AP Poll and completely fall out of the rankings by the end of the season.
Also according to Markazi, if Southern Cal loses to Notre Dame this weekend it'd be the first time in 17 years that the Trojans have lost to both the Bruins and the Fighting Irish in the same season. Lane Kiffin would also be the first Trojans coach since Paul Hackett to have at least five losses in two of his first three seasons on the job.
Ultimately, everything rests at the feet of the beleaguered Kiffin.
The play-calling against UCLA was pretty peculiar at times. Running back Curtis McNeal was enjoying lots of success running the football, but Kiffin preferred to throw the football a good majority of time—even on running situations. Abandoning the run for a good portion of the game put even more pressure on Matt Barkley.
Defensively, the team had problems adjusting to UCLA's tempo.
The Bruins converted on third-and-long on multiple occasions. The Trojans defense seemingly could never get a big stop when it needed one.
In addition, Southern Cal came out flat to begin the game and were down to UCLA in the first half by a a score of 24-0. There's no way a team should come out flat in a rivalry game with such magnitude and importance.
That also rests on Kiffin.
It's understandable that Kiffin is facing some pretty tough challenges. Southern Cal doesn't have much depth—which obviously is in correlation with the NCAA penalties and scholarship restrictions.
Still, his stoic and sometimes surly disposition has ruffled the feathers of the fanbase and has created a firestorm regarding his ability to lead this program.
It'd also be important to mention that UCLA is currently on a big-time upswing and can't be taken for granted anymore. The rivalry is now a rivalry again, and the Trojans will be facing scholarship restrictions for a few more years.
Coaching decisions need to be addressed on both sides of the ball. That could eventually mean the release of defensive coordinator (and Kiffin's father) Monte Kiffin.
Athletic Director Pat Haden did announce that Kiffin will return next season. However, the embattled coach has to right the ship and get things going in the right direction if he wants to stay on long term.
Next season, Kiffin will be losing Matt Barkley, T.J. McDonald, Khaled Holmes, Curtis McNeal, Wes Horton, Jawanza Starling and quite possibly Nickell Robey and Robert Woods (should the duo opt to declare early for the NFL draft).
With those players leaving, things won't be any easier next year.
Winner: The UCLA Program
With this win, Jim Mora became the first UCLA coach since Terry Donahue to win at least nine games in his first season.
Specifically speaking about this contest, Mora and his staff devised a great game plan. The offense, led by offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, was unpredictably and highly productive, while defensive coordinator Lou Spanos did a nice job mixing up both zone and man-to-man coverages and applying pressure on Barkley.
However, this game was truly emblematic of the entire season as a whole. This team plays with great energy, enthusiasm, effort and heart; there's no question that it stems primarily from Mora and his staff.
Did anyone think UCLA would be 9-2 at this point in the season, especially after coming off of a bizarre 6-8 campaign a year ago?
A culture changed has happened, and the roster has bought into what Mora is preaching. This isn't the soft UCLA team of old. Rather, this is one that plays with relentless effort and emotion.
This victory against Southern Cal could be the one that galvanizes the program and sets them on a trajectory trending sky high. Recruits surely have to be impressed by how UCLA is playing right now, and the city of Los Angeles is surely taking note of the Bruins success.
UCLA holds its destiny in it's hands at this point. The Bruins will be playing in the Rose Bowl if they win these next two weekends.