UCLA triumphs 38-20 in back-to-back victory at USC E
The UCLA Bruins clinched a 38-20 triumph over longstanding rival USC Trojans on Saturday. The game, taking place at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, has marked the first time since 1997 that the Bruins had won back-to-back games at USC’s home ground.
UCLA quarterback-runningback duo Ethan Carbers and TJ Harden delivered a stellar performance. Harden had a career-high rushing game with 142 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Garbers threw three TD passes. Defensive back Alex Johnson also returned a fumble 11 yards for a touchdown in the second half.
In a post-game moment, UCLA head coach Chip Kelly came across the field to find Williams and hugged him. Both Kelly and Williams were aware of the possibility that the quarterback might have just concluded his college football career with a blowout loss. Even so, USC’s bright quarterback served an impressive throw for 384 yards and a 74-yard touchdown.
Williams has long been alongside Andrew Luck in the UCLA coach’s personal assessment of the top college players he has encountered. In November last year, UCLA had suffered defeat at the hand of USC and Williams, whom Kelly dubbed “as good a quarterback as I have faced in my college career” at the time.
The significance of Kelly’s commendation towards Williams cannot be overstated. As highlighted by Bryan Fischer of FOX, the coach has previously coached against two Heisman winners.
Former Auburn Tigers quarterback Cam Newton, who scored an astounding 50 total touchdowns in the season Kelly coached against him, went on to secure a National Championship. Similarly, Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Kyler Murray, with 54 total touchdowns in the year he faced Kelly, also left an indelible mark.
Williams has yet to announce his plans for next year or any upcoming game. USC head coach Lincoln Riley, who has lost three straight games for the first time in seven years, has sung him some praises.
“He came here and took a chance on this place and took a chance on being a part of restarting this program and getting it going,” Riley said. “He’s been a good player for us, a really good leader for us. He’s a special player, special competitor, and obviously, we’ll see where it goes from here.”
The football rivalry between the USC and UCLA is longstanding. After 92 games, USC holds the lead with 52 wins compared to UCLA’s 33 wins, and seven games concluded in ties. However, UCLA has the longest winning streak in the rivalry, securing victories for eight consecutive seasons from 1991 to 1998.
Previously, coach Kelly had encountered criticism for both the team’s performance and his coaching decisions. Several reports have surfaced, scrutinizing his handling of African-American players, coaching deficiencies, and the team’s unsatisfactory record.
Former UCLA players condemned Kelly’s treatment of African Americans, with over 70 football players departing from UCLA for various reasons since Kelly assumed his role at the school.
However, UCLA’s recent victory and impressive performance are expected to bolster Kelly’s job security as he hopes to reclaim the Victory Bell.
“I think anybody that’s been in this game (knows it’s) unique,” Kelly said. “I’ve been at other schools in other (rivalry) games, and it’s not like this. I think the proximity of the schools, playing for the Bell, there’s so much that goes into it. It’s cool to see the smiles on our kids’ faces when we get to bring the Bell back to our school.”
On the other hand, the loss has added to USC’s struggles in the second half of the season. The Trojans had to conclude with a 7-5 record and a loss in five of their six games.