UCLA-USC: Turnovers And Bad Blood Kill Bruins In 28-7 Loss
Now the UCLA Bruins know how Arizona State felt on November 21.
Wearing their 1967 throwback jerseys for the second time this month, UCLA's defense played well for most of the night, shutting down the USC Trojans' offense.
However, The Bruin offense was flat-out terrible.
Not only did they not run the ball well, not only was their offensive line beaten by USC's defensive front seven, but the Bruins coughed up a fumble and threw three interceptions, four turnovers in all, in losing to the Trojans 28-7 in the Coliseum before 85,713.
The game was close in the first half as both defenses stepped up. The only UCLA (6-6, 3-6 Pacific-10 Conference) mistake was quarterback Kevin Prince throwing an interception to USC linebacker Malcolm Jones, who returned it 62 yards for the Trojans' first score in the first quarter.
Outside of a fourth quarter touchdown by Chane Moline out of the Wildcat formation with under six minutes left in the game, UCLA's offensive output consisted of seven punts to go along with those three picks and the fumble, committed by Nelson Rosario after a long gain late in the first half.
The Bruins were driving and were getting in a position to score at least a field goal when USC defensive back Will Harris stripped Rosario.
The referee claimed Rosario's knee was down, but awarded the ball to the Trojans after further review when it was showed otherwise.
The fumble killed any momentum coach Rick Neuheisel's crew may have had.
It's safe to say that the Bruin offense failed, much like they did during the month of October when they lost five straight games.
What it came down to was that USC's front seven was better than the UCLA's offensive line.
Everson Griffen and company stuffed the Bruin running attack, and it seemed like they were in the backfield all game, giving Prince and Kevin Craft, who replaced Prince in the third quarter when he sprained his shoulder, little time to throw.
The fact that Craft and Prince were UCLA's leading rushers said a lot about the offense's ineptitude.
Add to that the four Bruin turnovers, which led to 14 Trojan points, and that explains why USC (8-3, 5-3 in the Pac-10) prevailed.
Allen Bradford running for two touchdowns in the second half and getting 62 yards on the night didn't hurt either.
The last minute of the contest had some fireworks.
With the Trojans leading 21-7 and the game essentially over, after Neuheisel called a timeout Matt Barkley, who was 18 out of 26 for 206 yards and a INT by Alterraun Verner, threw a 48 yard TD pass to Damien Williams, setting off a wild celebration and taunting from the USC sideline.
As one could imagine, the UCLA players became angry—in their minds, the Trojans were running up the score and showing extremely poor sportsmanship. Both teams ventured out near midfield, barking at each other and nearly fighting for the third time in four years. Reggie Carter, the Bruins' senior linebacker, knocked down an official trying to get at 'SC's bench.
Like every other Bruin, I was upset about the TD until Fox Sports analyst and UCLA alum James Washington and Neuheisel stated after the game that it was UCLA's job to stop them, and they didn't, which was a good point.
But that did not change the fact that the Trojans were classless jerks by jumping up and down, taunting, and shouting "Scoreboard!" at the Bruins. It led me to wonder whether they were football players or schoolyard bullies.
It was the total lack of sportsmanship and respect by coach Pete Carroll's team that angered me, not the score.
This edition of the crosstown war showed me one important thing: That UCLA, though they did show improvement from last season, is not quite at USC's level. Not yet.
And not after the Men of Troy's 10th win in 11 tries over their crosstown enemies.
That is especially the case with the Bruins' offense. Simply put, Kevin Prince, who completed just 10 of 22 passes with those two picks,, his offensive line, and many of the other players on that side of the ball have some more growing up to do before they can be considered a true threat.
What's next for UCLA?
Since they are bowl eligible with six wins, a post season berth may be forthcoming.
I'll be honest—If the Bruins find themselves not going to a bowl, I wouldn't be devastated.
It would certainly be nice if they were invited to the post season, because it would give the players an opportunity for more practice and another game to play.
But, the way UCLA's offense has performed for much of the year, perhaps it would be best for everyone if they shut it down for 2009 and start preparing for next season, which would help to put this debacle behind them.
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