When the dust finally settled from the Coliseum, the UCLA Bruins were running around the field like champions of Los Angeles after defeating the USC Trojans Saturday night.
Thanks in large part to 288 total yards of offense from redshirt sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, the Bruins were able to slow down the red hot USC Trojans from the opening kickoff of a highly anticipated meeting of teams heading in different directions.
After leading by seven points with six minutes to play in the third quarter, the Bruins took advantage of great field position all night long, finally riding the legs and quick-striking arm of Brett Hundley for the game-clinching touchdown drive.
Watching his team falter at home to UCLA for the first time since 1997, USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron set the stage for bowl game preparation as the UCLA Eight-Clap ran rampant in Los Angeles that stretched far beyond the mere landscape of Saturday night's showdown.
"Obviously a disappointing performance by the team. I think it was the worst performance we have had since we have started back together. We started off very slow and weren't able to run or pass the ball. We couldn't stop [Brett] Hundley on the quarterback draw. We didn't play well on special teams. No excuses. We just didn't play well." -- Ed Orgeron
The pressure now certainly shifts back on Pat Haden to find a leader for the USC football program, especially after losing back-to-back games versus UCLA for the first time since 1997-1998 as momentum in this town shits towards the surging Bruins.
Fans were left disappointed and stormed out of the Coliseum for the final time this season feeling much the same against Washington State wondering what to make of the current coaching situation and the state of the 9-4 USC football program.
Plenty of Los Angeles recruits were in attendance last night taking in the sights and sounds from the Coliseum. As many of these future collegiate athletes left the tunnel, UCLA head coach Jim Mora was candid about his reaction following the monumental road victory in a place the UCLA Bruins once called home.
Jim Mora: "If I'm a high school player, I want to play at UCLA right now." http://t.co/c1uPQUz5np— Jack Wang (@thejackwang) December 1, 2013
The Trojans may seem behind the proverbial eight ball in terms of current day-to-day operations but will still have the historical edge in the series 44-30-7. That being said, its hard to overlook the manner in which Brett Hundley and the UCLA offense has picked apart USC's top-flight rush defense in consecutive seasons.
Nothing will motivate USC more than prying away the Victory Bell, which now sits in UCLA possession for the entire year before these goliaths meet next season. Both teams prepare for upcoming bowl games in what seems either El Paso, Las Vegas or San Diego but yet the biggest prize was up for grabs Saturday night in the heart of Los Angeles.
The final score and the numbers in between favored the powder blue thanks to strong field position, great pass rush and some opportune scoring drives. But rest assured, this rivalry has gone through plenty of streaks in recent memory from USC's 12-of-14 streak following what was a historic 8-straight run from the UCLA Bruins between 1991-1998.
To sum it up best, the Bruins leave the Coliseum with one leader, one great quarterback and one emerging star in LB/RB Myles Jack. The Trojans move forward with a powerhouse running game, questions surrounding the future of their head coach and life arguably without its superstar wide receiver Marqise Lee, who finished his final regular season game of his junior season with a team-high six receptions for 69 yards.
Orgeron recognized the odds stacked against him, saying, "Obviously we are disappointed, especially when you don't beat Notre Dame and UCLA. That is what a head coach of USC is supposed to do."
The next couple of weeks become vital to the Trojans' success moving forward in pursuit of that prized Victory Bell.