UCLA Wins the Pac-12 South

Brett Hundley

The Bruins outlast crosstown rival USC, 38-28, to win the Pac-12 South...

For the second straight year, UCLA will be going to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

This time, the Bruins used a win over USC, rather than backing in, to earn a spot in the conference title game, and give themselves a chance at their first Rose Bowl berth since after the 1998 season.

UCLA jumped out to a 24-0 lead, held on while USC cut the lead to 24-20, extended it back to 31-20, saw it get cut to 31-28, then sealed it with a late touchdown and a blocked field goal.

The win is the first in the rivalry for Jim Mora, UCLA's first-year head coach, who tied Terry Donahue's UCLA-mark for most wins in their first season as a head coach, with nine.

It also snapped a five-game losing streak for the Bruins to USC, and was only their second win in the series since 1998.

USC got The Opening kickoff, but on Matt Barkley's first pass attempt of the game, Aaron Hester intercepted the pass.

UCLA would score on a short touchdown run by Brett Hundley, giving them a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.

After USC punted, Ka'imi Fairbairn nailed a 23-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-0.

Then USC turned it over, a Marqise Lee fumble giving the Bruins the ball at the Trojan 33.

Hundley found Joe Fauria for a 17-yard touchdown pass, and the Bruins went up 17-0.

The Trojans then turned it over on downs at the Bruin 25, and a few plays later, Johnathan Franklin reached paydirt, and the lead was 24-0.

The rout was on.

But this rivalry needed some drama, and USC would reel off 20 unanswered points, a touchdown by Nelson Agholor from Barkley to cut it to 24-7, then after a punt, another drive ending in a Barkley to Randall Telfer touchdown pass for two yards.

The Bruins ran out the first half clock, and took the 24-14 lead into the half.

With the opening kickoff of the second half giving UCLA the ball, Murphy's Law hit UCLA.

UCLA fumbled, and after no one could jump on it, George Uko recovered it in the end zone, and UCLA's 24-point lead was down to four, 24-20.

The Bruins answered, mixing it up offensively, and Hundley ran in his second touchdown of the day, from three yards out, pushing the Bruins lead to 31-20.

The Trojans drove, but Andre Heidari missed a field goal, giving UCLA the ball back.

USC had a chance to trim the lead again, but Eric Kendricks intercepted Barkley, giving UCLA the ball back. The Bruins couldn't get things going before USC scored with 9:30 left in the game, cutting the lead to 31-28, the two-point conversion trimming the lead to three.

But like they've done numerous times before, the Bruins methodically went to work, racking up 83 yards on nine plays, ending in a 29-yard touchdown by Franklin, to push the lead to 38-28.

USC had a chance to cut into the lead, but Sheldon Price blocked Heidari's field goal, and UCLA got the ball back.

UCLA punted, USC drove, getting inside the ten, but it wasn't enough, and the Bruins hung on for the 38-28 win, their first double-digit win over USC since 1998.

While the Bruins play Stanford next week at the Rose Bowl, they'll wait to see who their opponent in the Pac-12 title game will be.

For now, they'll be content ringing the Victory Bell, which will return to its rightful place, in Westwood.

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