‘Iconic’ competition win puts USC in Pac-12 title game
2:31 AM ET Paolo UggettiESPN PASADENA, Calif.– All season long, USC coach Lincoln Riley has made it a point–
after a win, a loss, a practice– to mention where the group was just a year ago as compared with where it is now.Even after USC lost at Utah by one point in October, Riley mentioned how far the program had actually come in a short time. It had taken the Trojans just five games to go beyond last season’s four-win overall. That night in Salt Lake City, Riley also worried another point: Regardless of the loss, all of the Trojans’objectives would still be obtainable if they kept winning.On Saturday night, among those objectives was accomplished. A season after losing to rival UCLA by nearly 30 points in your home, USC outlasted the Bruins 48-45 in an electrical, back-and-forth thriller that punched the Trojans’ ticket to the Pac-12 national championship in Year 1 of the Riley period and kept their College Football Playoff hopes alive.2 Related”Iconic kind of game,”Riley stated.”Whether you’re a USC fan or a UCLA fan, they won’t forget nights like that.”The very first ranked match between the two teams given that
on nearly every level. After UCLA raced to a 14-0 benefit and led 21-20 at halftime, the game became a pingpong match of touchdowns in the second half. Whatever quarterback Caleb Williams could do on one end, Dorian Thompson-Robinson would answer on the other end in emphatic style. Both tossed interceptions– 3 plus a fumble for Thompson-Robinson, one for Williams– but tried to remove their errors with dazzling drives, Houdini-like scrambling and determine goal tosses.But the high-scoring affair quickly ended on a defensive play. As Thompson-Robinson drove down the field to try to tie or win the game with less than 2 minutes left, he was intercepted by sophomore Korey Foreman.
“I came into this game anticipating a dogfight,”Williams stated. “The game is never ever over in these big games.”The teams integrated for 93 points, 5 turnovers and more than 1,000 lawns of offense, and no player was accountable for more of those
yards and ratings than Williams, who passed for a career-high 470 backyards and 2 touchdowns and hurried for 33 backyards and a TD.”He’s been among the best players in the country this year,”Riley said of Williams.As USC offending lineman Brett Neilon added,” He’s so competitive, and he’s so positive in himself, but not in a cocky way. He’s just an A-plus person.”Earlier this week, Williams stated he wanted to deal with the match with UCLA like any other game. There was no additional inspiration or animosity towards the Bruins.
But after the game, the elation that players, coaches and personnel displayed mentioned something various that had actually been missing out on at USC the past couple of years: success, opponent notwithstanding.It was fitting then that Saturday’s victory event happened in the very same south end line where USC (10-1 )last celebrated its finest moment before this one: the 2017 Rose Bowl win over Penn State.The victory versus UCLA (8-3 )affirmed that USC’s offense is one of the most explosive in the nation and that Williams is a Heisman Trophy contender, if not the front-runner. The Trojans ‘defense has been irregular but also timely when it pertains to requiring turnovers and making stops.The game likewise was an exhibition of USC’s self-confidence. Having actually gone down by two scores early in the contest after leaving points on the board, there was, as Riley put it, absolutely no flinching.”You can’t write the script initially,” Riley stated.”You simply got to be ready to react.”After the disappointing defeat in Utah, Riley was nearly overly positive that USC would respond from the lowest point of its season. As his players rushed the field at game’s end Saturday, the feeling of accomplishment spanned beyond beating their rivals. It also had to do with the fact that, in the span of a year, the Trojans had managed to stitch a group together with a brand-new training staff, a bevy of transfers from different corners of the country and plenty of players who had actually been at USC
for a number of years into a cohesive, successful unit capable of playing for conference titles.Among the things USC achieved Saturday was keeping a West Coast group in the playoff hunt. There’s still work to do– the Trojans have to beat a rising Notre Dame team next week and win the Pac-12 championship– however for a conference and an area that has actually stopped working to make its way into that top four as often as its counterparts, Riley’s revival of USC projects a brighter future that is currently paying dividends.”Thinking back to what all got here, the main point that we wished to do was come together,” stated USC
linebacker Shane Lee, who transferred from Alabama. “That’s why we’re here: to play for championships and have success.” Both Williams, who moved from Oklahoma and is still getting utilized to using cardinal and gold and leading the band after a win, and players like fifth-year senior lineman Andrew Vorhees, who has actually seen all the ups and downs of the past few years, basked in the win as they hugged colleagues and high-fived USC fans who didn’t wish to leave. Athletic director Mike Bohn embraced Riley, who then viewed the event removed from the crowd, taking it all in.”College football on the West Coast and here in L.A. lives and well, “Riley stated postgame, applauding the atmosphere of what was
a sold-out crowd of more than 70,000 at the Rose Bowl.”That’s how it must be every week.”