In a highly anticipated crosstown clash, UCLA delivered a commanding performance against USC in the 93rd edition of their rivalry game, securing a 38-20 victory. The game highlighted the Bruins’ resurgence and cast doubts on the future of USC’s standout quarterback, Caleb Williams.
UCLA’s Dominant Win over USC Raises Questions for Trojans, Secures Chip Kelly’s Coaching Future:
Following the game’s conclusion, an emotional scene unfolded as UCLA coach Chip Kelly sought out Caleb Williams, sharing a heartfelt embrace. Williams, recognized by Kelly as one of the elite college players he has encountered alongside Andrew Luck, faced the possibility of bidding farewell to his collegiate career with this defeat. Meanwhile, the victory potentially bolstered Kelly’s position as the head coach for future games with the Bruins.
T.J. Harden emerged as a standout for UCLA, recording a career-high 142 rushing yards and securing two touchdowns. Quarterback Ethan Garbers also shined, tossing three touchdown passes. The Bruins’ triumph was further solidified by Alex Johnson’s pivotal fumble return for a touchdown in the second half, highlighting the team’s resilience and determination.
Expressing his sentiments about the unique intensity of the rivalry, Chip Kelly acknowledged the significance of reclaiming the Victory Bell and witnessing the joyous reactions among the players upon bringing it back to UCLA. The win not only symbolized a significant victory on the field but potentially provided a boost to Kelly’s uncertain job security.
Hudson Habermehl’s contribution, securing two of Garbers’ three touchdown passes, showcased UCLA’s offensive prowess. The Bruins’ defense also proved instrumental in restricting Caleb Williams’ playmaking opportunities, leading to a celebratory atmosphere among UCLA supporters.
Amidst UCLA’s celebrations, USC faced a disappointing outcome, marking their fifth loss in six games following a promising start to the season. Head coach Lincoln Riley expressed profound disappointment in his team’s performance, acknowledging his failure in preparing the team adequately for the latter half of the season. Despite Williams’ commendable effort of amassing 384 passing yards and a touchdown on his 22nd birthday, the Trojans couldn’t evade defeat.
Riley, experiencing a three-game losing streak for the first time in his tenure at Oklahoma and USC, reflected on Williams’ impact on the team. The uncertainty loomed as Williams, the Heisman Trophy winner, remained silent about his plans for the upcoming bowl game and the following season.
Despite the passionate support from a vibrant home crowd, including notable figures like USC student Olivia Rodrigo, the Trojans couldn’t muster a competitive performance. USC’s struggles were evident, particularly highlighted by their minimal rushing game, totaling 3 yards.
UCLA’s offensive resurgence in this matchup contrasted starkly with their prior game’s struggles, where they managed just seven points. Ethan Garbers attributed the team’s turnaround to their collective determination and commitment, stating the performance was dedicated to Coach Chip Kelly.
The victory marked a significant milestone for UCLA, breaking a streak of not securing back-to-back wins at USC’s historic stadium since 1997. The Bruins’ dominance was evident from the game’s onset, as they never trailed in the matchup, reminiscent of their 62-33 victory over the Trojans two years ago.
Amid narratives encompassing triumph and uncertainty, UCLA’s resounding victory reshaped the historic rivalry, leaving USC contemplating its path forward. At the same time, UCLA basked in the glory of redemption under Coach Chip Kelly’s guidance.