UCLA defeats USC, wins Pac-12 South
Many thought UCLA backed into the inaugural Pac-12 Football Championship Game last year after losing to USC 50-0 in the regular season finale.
There will be no such grumbling this time around.
Johnathan Franklin rushed for 171 yards and two scores, Brett Hundley tacked on three more total touchdowns and UCLA beat USC 38-28 to claim the Pac-12 South outright on a rainy day in Pasadena. The Bruins will face either Stanford or Oregon on Nov. 30 in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game for a chance to go to the Rose Bowl.
The Bruins bursted out to a 24-0 lead thanks an opportunistic defense that forced two quick turnovers and an offense that cashed in with three red zone touchdowns in the first quarter and a half.
However, USC would not go down quietly. Matt Barkley threw a strike to Nelson Agholor down the middle of the field to put the Trojans on the board, and USC would score once more before the break to cut the lead to 10. Lane Kiffin's team wasted no time knifing into the deficit even further once the second half started thanks to a wild George Uko fumble recovery in the end zone.
After Hundley's second touchdown run, USC would cut it to 31-28 on Matt Barkley's third touchdown pass of the game and subsequent 2-point conversion.
At the end of the day, though, UCLA made enough plays to hold on to the lead and the victory. Brett Hundley never lost his composure, calmly leading the Bruins on a long scoring drive to respond to the Trojan threat. While he converted a long third down pass to reliable target Joseph Fauria, it was "The Mayor" Johnathan Franklin who provided the penultimate blow with a 29-yard touchdown run to put the Bruins back up two possessions. That would prove to be the final score of the game.
UCLA still has a chance to host the Pac-12 Championship game, needing Stanford to win at Oregon later tonight and lose to the Bruins next Saturday for that to be a reality.
[Related: See Pac-12.com's Football Championship Game ticket information page for the latest info on attending the game.]