UCLA delivered a statement 38-20 win over crosstown rival USC Saturday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC started the season 6-0 in Year 2 of the Lincoln Riley era, but closed the regular season out by dropping five of their final six games.
UCLA (7-4, 4-4) took a 14-10 lead into the locker room and outscored the Trojans 24-10 in the second half in the final matchup as Pac-12 members. After missing last weekend’s loss to Arizona State, Bruins starting quarterback Ethan Garbers returned to the lineup and finished 18-of-31 for 155 yards. He tossed two of his three touchdown passes to tight end Hudson Habermehl.
Caleb Williams was sacked four times, including twice by projected first-round draft pick edge rusher Laiatu Latu. The Trojans also failed to establish the run game. USC (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) finished with three total yards rushing, its lowest mark of the season.
Last season the Trojans were on the brink of reaching the College Football Playoff before ending the season with consecutive losses in the Pac-12 title game to Utah and the Cotton Bowl to Tulane. USC entered 2023 with even higher expectations in Year 2 of the Riley/Williams pairing in Southern California, but failed to meet those lofty goals.
UCLA finished with 354 total yards. The Trojans defense has been a storyline all season. USC ranked near the bottom of all statical categories in the conference and fired former defensive coordinator Alex Grinch following a loss to Washington earlier this month.
USC now awaits a decision from Williams. He is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft should he declare. If he does, he’ll also have to decide whether to play in the Trojans’ bowl game or not.
The Bruins close out the regular season in Northern California against Cal next weekend.