That gap the Bruins' head coach thought was closing was treated like Thursday's Thanksgiving turkey.
In the Trojans' 50-0 shutout of their crosstown rival, Kiffin & Co. tore apart UCLA's secondary, picked at the bones of its offensive line and ate the scraps of a horrendous playbook.
"Never losing to UCLA is a big deal," Kiffin said. "To win like that is something they will always remember."
But this team looked like they brought in their recruits to play instead of its second string. This "L.A. bowl" should have been called the "Bloody Bowl" because the Trojans' slaughtered some Bruin to cap off a 10-2 season.
All that carnage was represented by oh-so-much yardage.
In the first half, Barkley threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns. The Trojans' had more than 100 yards rushing. By game's end, Barkley threw well over 400 yards and had six touchdowns, tying his school record set earlier this season against Colorado.
For the first time in USC history, the Trojans had two wide receivers with 10 catches in a single game. Both true freshman Marqise Lee and true sophomore Robert Woods had two touchdowns and more than 100 receiving yards.
Heisman candidate Matt Barkley proved he should be in the Big Apple by throwing an astounding 39 touchdowns in 2011, breaking former Trojan and Heisman winner Matt Leinart's single-season record of 38 scores.
"I remember watching him play that year," Barkley said of Leinart. "I kind of dreamed about something like that, but I never thought it would actually happen."
But it did, among so much else. Troy's record breaking game against its crosstown opponent proved that bowl motivation isn't the end-all to a player's season.
As Barkley listed those other motivations, USC's band began its fight song. The signalcaller said he got the chills.
"We were playing for each other," Barkley said. "We are playing for the school, the players that came before us. That Trojan pride definitely motivated us.
"This place is a special place and there is a lot to play for."
One of those things is talent. Besides Barkley's NFL ability, both Lee and Woods ooze star power. Each receiver broke 1,000 yards receiving this season, the fourth receiver duo to do so in USC history.
"I knew once I came to SC I would transition all of my energy into football," Lee said. "My teammates and coaches have helped me a lot."
Tailback Curtis McNeal knows the value of a good coach. Entering the 2011 season the junior had just 33 career rushing yards. He was academically ineligible in 2010, when running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu rejoined the Trojans' staff. But time, patience and connecting with his coach reaped dividends. Now, McNeal is the 27th Trojan to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season.
"It's really special. We are excited [about the future]. We are coming out of the dark," Kiffin said.
For all the damage one name left in USC's wake, the Trojans' showed it had one last prize to play for: territory. And despite Neuheisel saying the gap between the two programs had closed, the score and records proved otherwise.
"It is a pretty strong statement to me. Our players took that very personal," Kiffin said. "I think they felt disrespected."
"Tonight they were clearly superior to us," Neuheisel said. "Tonight they were. I don't believe that's the case at all times and I believe we can close the gap and believe we will."
Not this season. Maybe he's right and they will one day. But that 'one day' won't come against this Trojan unit.
That team is far too dominate. And far too prideful.