UCLA vs. USC: 10 Things We Learned in Trojans' Loss
USC had arguably its worst performance of the season in a 35-14 loss to in-state rival UCLA. The Bruins dominated in all three areas of the game, and it's safe to question if the Trojans even got off the bus. What was supposed to be one of the best games of the day ended up being one of the bigger mismatches and biggest disappointments.
With that said, what did we learn from this matchup?
Brett Hundley can be terrific when he wants to be, USC has a gigantic question to answer and a couple of NFL prospects have yet to make a decision on their future.
Still No Love Lost
As expected, there was a lot of trash talk leading up to this game. Players got into a little scuffle before the matchup, and UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch was even ejected for throwing a punch. And even when the dust settled, the Bruins still weren't satisfied with letting their play do the talking.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley made sure to remind everyone that UCLA runs the state, per Bleacher Report's Trenise Ferreira. Head coach Jim Mora agreed, as he screamed up and down the halls after the game, per Lindsey Thiry of Fox Sports.
Ah, have to love rivalry week, right?
Next season can't get here fast enough.
UCLA Won the Special Teams Battle
Another game where the team that won the special teams battle ended up winning the game. Bravo, UCLA.
While there wasn't a field goal attempted in this game, the Bruins did get a gigantic boost from return man Ishmael Adams. He returned three kickoffs for 129 yards, setting UCLA up in great field position nearly every time USC had scored a touchdown. These momentum-changing plays can really suck the life out of a team trying to make a comeback.
Most will look at the performance from UCLA's offense or the lack of defense from USC, but the Bruins special teams made just as much of a difference in the outcome.
USC's Offensive Line Is Banged Up
As if losing weren't bad enough, USC suffered injuries to two key offensive linemen. Center Marcus Martin and right guard Aundrey Walker both weren't able to put any pressure on their injured leg and left the game on carts.
Walker likely has a broken ankle, per Rich Hammond of The Orange County Register. Martin's injury remains a mystery, but it didn't look good after watching it on tape.
The good news is that USC only has one game left. The bad news is that both players were key to the Trojans' offensive game plan, and there isn't much depth at either of those positions.
Recruiting Will Likely Be Impacted
One underrated part of this rivalry game is that recruits are watching. Kids who have USC in mind are also looking at UCLA. And while they throw many different reasons into the equation, picking the team that wins rivalry games like this can often sway an opinion in one team's favor.
Well, UCLA has now won two straight over USC. The Trojans are also a combined 0-4 against UCLA and Notre Dame in the last two seasons. To some, winning the rivalry game is more important than winning any other during the season.
It'll be interesting to see how many recruits UCLA can snag from USC after another big win over its in-state rival.
Javorius Allen Is Still a Beast
One of the few bright spots for USC?
Javorius Allen, of course.
The sophomore carried the ball 20 times for 123 and scored USC's lone rushing touchdown. He also caught three passes for 30 yards. I still have no idea why he didn't get the ball more than he did, as he was one of the few players who looked like he knew what he was doing out there. Allen consistently bounced off potential tacklers and fought hard to move the chains each play.
While there are still plenty of unanswered questions surrounding the program, it's good for USC fans to know that Allen will remain in the backfield next season. He's a superstar running back.
Cassius Marsh Is Pretty Good as Well
We get it. Anthony Barr is one of the best defensive players in the country, and Brett Hundley is a potential NFL superstar.
But can Cassius Marsh get some love?
Every other game, UCLA's defensive lineman is blowing up offensive linemen and getting to the quarterback. In the win over USC, he had two sacks on back-to-back plays and recovered a fumble that pretty much put the game on ice.
Marsh has a quick first step and uses his hands extremely well. Hopefully, a few NFL draft scouts took notes and begin giving this guy the credit he deserves.
Brett Hundley Is Back
Brett Hundley is an interesting guy. One game he'll provide you with a marvelous performance that shows you exactly what scouts love, then he'll throw a couple of boneheaded interceptions that have you questioning if he is even worth the hype.
For now, he's worth every sentence.
Hundley was incredible, as he took what the defense gave him by throwing for 208 yards and rushing for a pair of touchdowns. Most importantly, he didn't throw a single interception. He found the open receiver every play and didn't hesitate when it was time to run.
If only the young quarterback could play with consistency.
Still Don't Know What the Future Holds
Now that the regular season has come to an end, many will begin asking players if they will leave school early for the next level. Some of the popular names from this game include UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and USC receiver Marqise Lee.
If you're hoping for an answer right away, you've come to the wrong place.
Hundley said that he's going to wait until after the bowl game before making his decision, per Edward Lewis of Rivals.com. Lee appeared offended when a fan indicated that this was his last home game for USC, per Hammond.
Will both return to school?
Both programs would appreciate it, but only time will tell.
UCLA Will Continue Using Defensive Players to Score
It doesn't appear to be a fad. Jim Mora seems dead serious about using some of his better defensive players to help move the ball on offense.
Myles Jack, who has become the most popular player in the new package, carried the ball only twice but did score a touchdown. Now, defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes was included, and he also scored a touchdown in a goal-line situation.
If it isn't broke, don't fix it.
It'll be fun to see if other coaches around the country begin stealing pages out of Mora's playbook.
Questions Remain with Ed Orgeron
The big question now surrounds coach Ed Orgeron. Will he be promoted to full-time head coach of USC?
It may have been an easier answer if USC was able to win this game, but the Trojans lost in blowout fashion. Coaches are often judged on their last performance, and considering this was a rivalry, it certainly doesn't help his case.
However, he does have the backing from his players. Safety Dion Bailey and quarterback Cody Kessler both took the blame for the loss and defended their coach, per Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News and Kristen Rodgers of Fox Sports Next, respectively. Offensive lineman Kevin Graf went as far as to say Orgeron should be promoted to head coach, per Adam Gorney of Rivals.com.
It's the million dollar question.
What's your answer?