For the second straight year, UCLA has every reason to believe it is the better team in Los Angeles. The Bruins beat USC 35-14 on Saturday night in front of over 86,000 fans in the Coliseum.
The Trojans had no answer for UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, who rushed for two touchdowns and handed the ball off for two more.
Hundley finished 18-of-27 for 208 yards. He rushed for 98 yards, including the two scores.
USC's offense couldn't match the Bruins up-tempo play.
The Trojans sputtered from the firs snap until the end, unable to find a rhythm. Quarterback Cody Kessler was 17-of-28, with one touchdown pass. Tailback Buck Allen rushed for a touchdown.
"Obviously a disappointing performance by the team," said interim head coach Ed Orgeron after the game. "I think it was the worst performance we have had since we have started back together."
UCLA not only out-played USC on offense, but the Bruins defense and special teams play was superior to the Trojans on Saturday. UCLA forced three USC fumbles, recovering two of them. They sacked Kessler six times.
"It is about execution, that's all it was." Orgeron said. "We were really looking forward to playing a great game and we weren't executing and it took a little fire out of it."
USC's special teams allowed the Bruins to average 43 yards on punt returns in the loss.
This is UCLA's third win against USC since 1999. This is only the first time since 1997 the Bruins have beat the Trojans in the Coliseum.
Emotional high too soon
Emotions were high to start the game and the refs had to decide to quickly get a handle on the situation. UCLA freshman offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch was ejected in the Bruins second series of the game after drawing a personal foul for "striking" USC player J.R. Tavai.
USC receiver Marqise Lee was involved in a verbal spat with UCLA defenders during the first series. He told SCPlaybook after the game he chose to "cool it" and "walk away" after seeing the refs eject Benenoch the next series.
"I thought the energy level was very high before the game, about as high as it's ever been," Orgeron said. "We tried to sustain, guys had energy in spurts, but we weren't as consistent as we have been in the last couple of games."
USC actually won the penalty battle against UCLA. The Bruins finished with four penalties for 45 yards. USC committed three for thirty.
Bright light on Allen
The lone star on USC's offense Saturday was who else other than tailback Buck Allen.
The redshirt sophomore carried the ball 20 times for 124 yards, including a touchdown.
"Buck has been a tremendous story this year and he has turned into a wonderful back for us," Orgeron said. "Buck is a good player. He played decent tonight."
Allen also fumbled the ball for the second time in two games; UCLA recovered.
Offensive line injuries
USC's offensive line suffered a major blow on just its third play of the game when center Marcus Martin went down. Martin was tended to on the field for an extended period of time by the USC training staff before he was carted off.
The junior did not return to action for the Trojans, but was carted back to the sideline in the first half and stood on crutches with his left knee heavily wrapped.
Martin confirmed after the game he did suffer a knee injury but said after the game, "It's good, I'm fine".
Sixth-year senior Abe Markowitz took over at center.
The line got even thinner to start the third quarter, when right guard Aundrey Walker went down with an injury on just the third play out of the half.
Walker, too, was tended to on the field by trainers for an extended amount of time before being carted into the Trojans locker room.
Orgeron confirmed after the game Walker suffered a broken ankle in the contest.
Former starter John Martinez took over at right guard.
Ode to Orgeron?
Out of the ordinary here, USC players ran out of the tunnel (behind No. 55 Willie McGinest in jersey and helmet) and then formed a big "O" around the SC logo midfield, something they've never done before.
Was that their sign – they want O?
Multiple players confirmed after the game they wanted to do something to honor Orgeron – and the "O" before kickoff was their way of doing that.
With just under two hours before kickoff UCLA players were spread from end zone to end zone tossing the ball around on the Coliseum field.
USC players entered the field from the Peristyle and started to circle up around the SC logo at midfield, per their new tradition under interim coach Ed Orgeron.
As the USC circle grew, the Bruins were pushed into the corners. As an onlooker, you could tell it was only a matter of time before someone said something.
After the Trojans were done with their pregame ritual, there was some war of words and it appeared USC's Marqise Lee was in the middle. Coaches and security separated the two masses of players at midfield. It didn't appear as though the altercation turned physical.
USC players then migrated toward their tunnel and locker room.