T.J. Harden rushed for a career-high 142 yards and scored two touchdowns, Ethan Garbers threw three TD passes and UCLA trounced spiraling Southern California 38-20 on Saturday in the 93rd edition of their crosstown showdown.
Hudson Habermehl made two TD receptions and Alex Johnson returned a fumble 11 yards for a key second-half touchdown for the Bruins (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12), who likely improved coach Chip Kelly's tenuous job security by reclaiming the Victory Bell with their second straight blowout win in the Coliseum.
Caleb Williams passed for 384 yards with a touchdown and an interception on his 22nd birthday in the final game of a calamitous regular season for the Trojans (7-5, 5-4), who lost five of six after being ranked No. 5 entering the year and starting out 6-0.
Last season's Heisman Trophy winner also might have played his last collegiate game, although Williams hasn't announced his plans for next year or the Trojans' upcoming bowl game.
Lincoln Riley has lost three straight games for the first time in his seven years as a head coach at Oklahoma and USC. Williams and Riley won their first 11 games together at the Coliseum before losing the last three.
Not even a lively home crowd, including pop star and USC student Olivia Rodrigo, could spark the Trojans to a competitive performance.
Logan Loya had nine catches for 60 yards while the Bruins lit up the scoreboard against USC's dismal defense after scoring just 45 points in their previous three games combined. UCLA hadn't won back-to-back games at USC's 101-year-old stadium since 1997, but the Bruins never trailed in this matchup after blowing out the Trojans 62-33 two years ago.
UCLA's offense managed just seven points last week in an embarrassing loss to Arizona State, but the Bruins drove 48 yards for Harden's TD run on their opening drive after the defense stopped USC on downs near midfield.
Bruins cornerback Kenny Churchwell III then ripped the ball out of freshman Zachariah Branch's hands deep in USC territory, and Habermehl caught a TD pass three plays later. Devin Kirkwood picked off Williams' throw moments after that, but USC's defense held before Williams capped a 99-yard drive with a beautiful throw to Brenden Rice, who went 74 yards for a score.
UCLA scored on Garbers' short TD pass to Harden on its opening drive of the second half. MarShawn Lloyd then fumbled on the first play of USC's ensuing drive, and Johnson scooped and scored for a 28-10 lead.
UCLA: Kelly is facing calls for his firing after a six-season tenure that hasn't produced anything near the high-level success expected, but his Bruins rebounded from back-to-back losses with his third victory over USC — and the first over a Trojans team with a winning record. Kelly improved his record to 34-33 at UCLA.
USC: Riley's team hasn't exactly quit on him, but it looked considerably less passionate than the Bruins. Some serious work will be needed with this roster beyond a complete teardown of the defense. That process should start in practice for the Trojans' bowl game before they head to the Big Ten in 2024.
UCLA: Host California on Nov. 25.
USC: A mid-tier bowl game and a search for a new defensive coordinator.
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