Southern California and the UCLA Bruins going into a Victory Bell game with a combined 13 losses is unheard of, so unheard of that it has never happened in the 88 times these two teams have played.
However, both the Trojans (5-5, 4-4) and the Bruins (2-8, 2-5) know that this game has much bigger implications than their records indicate. So how did the first half of football play out?
Southern California’s first drive of the game took them all the way into UCLA’s territory, and was highlighted by a 3rd and 10 play in which JT Daniels hit Zach Wilson for 27 yards to the UCLA 24. UCLA’s defense then held the Trojans and were aided by a big sack by by Lokeni Toailoa for a loss of 8 yards to the UCLA 28. The Trojans were forced to settle for a 46 yard field goal to go up 3-0 at the 11:28 mark.
The UCLA Bruins answered Southern Cal’s FG with a beautiful drive of their own that was highlighted by UCLA’s Wilton Speight. Speight converted a pair of third downs that were huge. The first, on a 3rd and 8, Speight avoided a sack and hit Caleb Wilson for a 29 yard completion to the Trojan’s 44 yard line. The second was a 3rd and 11 conversion that resulted in UCLA’s touchdown. On this play, Speight threw what might have been the best thrown ball all year for UCLA, when he lofted a perfectly thrown pass that Theo Howard ran under for 33 yards, and a UCLA TD that put the Bruins up 7-3 at the 7:53 mark of the first quarter.
Southern Cal made it clear early that they were going to attack the Bruins through the air, and on the Trojans next drive, Clay Helton called five pass plays and no runs that resulted in the Trojans once again getting into UCLA territory. However, a nice play on 3rd and 1 by UCLA’s Darnay Holmes to break up a pass in the end-zone, resulted in the Trojans settling for a Michael Brown 42 yd FG that he missed wide left.
UCLA attacked the Trojans on the next drive the opposite way, as they decide to run the ball right at the Trojans six times on the drive that was highlighted by a beautiful 61 yard run by Joshua Kelly all the way to the Southern Cal’s 8 yard line. UCLA capped off the drive when Speight actually dropped back to pass but couldn’t find a receiver and ran it 4 yards for a TD that put the Bruins up 14-3 at the 3:38 mark.
The Trojans immediately came right back at the Bruins. UCLA actually held the Trojans on a huge 3rd and 1, but the Trojans lined up to punt, but instead of punting, they faked and Erik Krommenhoek ran for 8 yards to the UCLA 44. Then JT Daniels completed a beautiful ball to Amon-Ra St. Brown for 44 yards for a TD.
At the end of an entertaining first quarter, the Bruins were up 14-10.
Special teams came back to haunt the Bruins once again at the very start of the quarter. Wilton Speight was sacked by Jordan Iosefa for a loss of 9 yards to the UCLA 19, and special teams failed the Bruins again, as Flintoft dropped back to punt, and the Trojans overloaded to the right and UCLA did not adjust. Isaiah Langley then blocked the punt, and Devon Williams picked it up and waltzed in for a short TD to put the Trojans up 17-14.
UCLA got a gift from JT Danials as he dropped back and threw an ill-advised pass deep down the field that was intercepted by Nate Meadors. UCLA and specifically Joshua Kelly took advantage of the turnover and a Southern California unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as UCLA drove down the field and picked up a TD as Joshua Kelley took it in on a run of two yards to put UCLA up 21-17 at the 8:21 mark of the second quarter.
The other UCLA issue that fans are tired of seeing reared its ugly head on the Trojans’ next drive, MISSED TACKLES. JT Danials dropped back, and threw a quick hook pattern to Jones, and a missed tackle by UCLA’s Lake resulted in a 45 yard TD to put the Trojans back up 24-21 at the 5:54 mark.
It is clear that UCLA is going to have to get some pressure on JT Danials, as Southern Cal has no thought of running the ball against the Bruins.
UCLA on the other hand needs to continue to ride Joshua Kelley as he currently has 24 carries for 147 yards.
Sound off below, what do the Bruins need to do to pull this game out?
Listen to the Game Here on BN!
This season, we are proud to, again, have today’s audio feed for everyone who opts to use the TuneIn player embedded below. For optimum results at home, start the audio feed then pause your DVR and sync them up together so you don’t have to listen to the Fox broadcast team of Joe Davis and Brady Quinn. Bruce Feldman will be joining them as their sideline reporter and his insight alone may make it worth listening to the audio of the Fox broadcast.