USC shuts out UCLA in season finale blowout
USC handily defeated rival UCLA, 50-0, on Saturday night behind a dominant effort in all facets of the game.
In the win, junior quarterback Matt Barkley completed more than 83 percent of his passes for 423 yards and six touchdowns.
For the Trojans, there will be no postseason play, but the dominant win capped off an impressive 10-2 (7-2 within the Pac-12) season.
“I think we gave it our all and that’s what we were trying to do at the beginning of the season," said Barkley. "We just take advantage of every opportunity we get and tonight was the last opportunity we got no matter what. We knew that, and so I definitely think we did."
Barkley’s favorite receivers came through with extraordinary performances yet again. Freshman Marqise Lee caught 13 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore Robert Woods recorded 12 catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
This season, Woods and Lee combined for more than 2,400 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns. Both players will return for next season.
“I feel like we have a lot of work to do, but I’m proud of this year, and we both finally broke 1,000 yards so that was good,” said Woods.
On Saturday night, the offense did not waste any time, as it scored its first touchdown less than a minute into the game on a 42-yard Barkley to Lee touchdown connection.
While the Trojan offense accomplished whatever it wanted on Saturday night, the USC defense was arguably just as dominant. Employing somewhat of a “bend, don’t break” approach, the defense did not surrender a single point to the Bruins.
The Trojans gave up 385 yards, but more importantly held the Bruins to 3-12 on third down conversions and 0-3 on fourth downs. USC only forced one turnover, but the T.J. McDonald interception of UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince occurred at a crucial time when the Bruins were driving in the red zone in the second quarter.
By halftime, the Trojans were leading 29-0, but the team was not content to take it easy for the remainder of the game.
“I was really pleased with how they responded to a halftime locker room that really challenged them,” said USC head coach Lane Kiffin. “Let’s finish this thing off and send a statement about this team and who they are.”
Despite the one-sided loss and the fact that the Trojans finished with the best record (7-2) in the Pac-12 South, the Bruins will represent the division in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game, where they will meet the Oregon Ducks.
Even so, should the Bruins lose to the Ducks, they will fall to 6-7 and thus could potentially lose their bowl eligibility.
With the dominant win over UCLA, USC won seven of its last eight games, with its only loss coming at the hands of the then-No. 4 Stanford. That game went to triple-overtime.
While much uncertainty surrounds Matt Barkley’s upcoming decision of whether or not to return to USC for a special senior season, one thing is for sure- USC finished the season in impeccable form, taking down its bitter crosstown rival in a game that was never even close once it began.