How sweet this victory was. from the opening kickoff when the Trojans started running the ball down the field it was clear that USC was going to be in control, our offensive line was overpowering all day, and the running game was key early on since we saw a rare stretch in the first half where Matt Leinart looked like a mere mortal at quarterback. It is fitting that it wasn't the Bruins who were causing Matt problems, it was simply the emotion of playing his last game at the Coliseum (he never lost a game in the Grey Lady) which caught up to Matt and seemingly affected his play.
Not to worry though, Matt was still able to hand the ball off to Reggie Bush and LenDale White to let Thunder and Lightning do their thing. When all was said and done Reggie had clinched his spot as the Heisman winner and LenDale had bypassed Charles White atop the all-time SC touchdown list, not a bad day at the office for those two. Reggie was so dominating in his performance that the Heisman engravers probably started etching his name on the statue at halftime after he had already run for over 230 yards.
As dominating as the offense was, however, the performance by the defense was just as noteworthy, particularly in the early goings when they came up with several big plays to prevent the Bruins from having any thoughts of staying in the game. Lawrence Jackson and Frostee Rucker had back to back sacks to stop one early drive and Ryan Ting made a nice 3rd down play to stop another. Josh Pinkard did a terrific job of being physical with Marcedes Lewis off the line of scrimmage which helped stop the big TE from becoming a factor. The biggest play involving Marcedes during the game came when he took a huge hit from longtime friend Darnell Bing on a pass across the middle and you know Darnell earned a lot of bragging rights with that play.
Coming into the game the Bruins had pinned many of their hopes on the explosive return abilities of Maurice Drew but the Trojans simply took him out of the equation by going to pooch kicks and utilizing the "strike" team, a kickoff coverage unit featuring some big hitters with the goal of squibbing a kick and possibly getting a turnover after a big hit. Of course, that strategy worked two-fold as it kept the ball out of Drew's hands and it allowed for a turnover after Rey Maualuga caused a fumble that was recovered by Pinkard. As far as punt returns by Drew, well, you have to punt the ball to have someone return it and the USC offense didn't have much of a need to punt in this game.
By the time the second half came around the rout was on and it was a matter of sitting back and enjoying the experience of Tusk being played in all its glory while the Trojans continued to roll. Lawrence Jackson caused a fumble which was recovered by Brian Cushing who later put a huge hit on Joe Cowan to force an incompletion. Fred Davis scored a touchdown and shortly after that Justin Wyatt recovered a fumble and dashed to the end zone in a play that brought back memories of Antuan Simmons against the Bruins four years ago. After a late UCLA score they tried an onside kick that John Walker picked off in mid-air and raced for the goal line only to be stopped a few yards short. David Kirtman was able to punch it in from there but it sure would've been nice to see Walker get the score after all he has been through in his Trojan career.
That's what this USC vs UCLA game was reduced to on Saturday, us wishing certain players could have their moments in the sun by experiencing a big play to close out the season. It wasn't a close, hard fought game. It was simply another reminder of just how much separation has been achieved between these two programs in recent years. Pete Carroll and Karl Dorrell shared Coach of the Year honors in the Pac-10 this year but after what we saw in this game is there anybody out there who would like to change their vote?
To top it off the game was viewed by a Who's who of top high school recruits who were dazzled by what they saw on the field and who were impressed by the collection of former Trojan stars on the sidelines including Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen, Sam Cunningham and Rodney Peete. After the game Peete toasted several USC players at a tailgate party by saying "That's how we do it" and then he quickly reminded them about one more game on the schedule. The Longhorns will be coming to town soon and we will probably start hearing all kinds of talk about how they are going to be latest team with the ability to knock the mighty Trojans from their perch. It's too early to begin looking at that game but if Texas wants to ask any questions about USC they can ask UCLA what they thought. If not UCLA, then ask Oklahoma. Or Notre Dame. Or Michigan. Ask all of them if you want, there are 34 teams in a row that have lined up against USC without an answer. As good as this recent streak has been, this victory over UCLA was as fun and enjoyable to watch as any of them simply because it involved a sheer beatdown of the Bruins. What a great time to be a Trojan.