USC coach Lincoln Riley has mentioned where the squad was a year ago after every victory, defeat, and practise this season.
Even after USC’s one-point loss to Utah in October, Riley noted the program’s progress. In five games, the Trojans surpassed previous season’s four wins. Riley said that despite the setback, the Trojans’ ambitions were still possible if they maintained winning.
One of these aims was achieved Saturday night. USC beat UCLA 48-45 in an explosive, back-and-forth battle to advance to the Pac-12 championship game in Year 1 of the Riley era and keep their College Football Playoff aspirations alive.
Riley: “Iconic game.” “USC and UCLA fans won’t forget evenings like those”
The first rated encounter between the clubs since 2015 was thrilling. The second half was a pingpong battle of touchdowns after UCLA led 14-0 and 21-20 at halftime. Dorian Thompson-Robinson answered everything quarterback Caleb Williams did. Both Thompson-Robinson and Williams tossed turnovers, but sought to erase their errors with dazzling drives, Houdini-like scrambling, and perfect touchdown throws.
A defensive play finished the high-scoring game. With fewer than two minutes remaining, Thompson-Robinson was intercepted by Korey Foreman.
Williams expected a battle. Big games never end.
No player had more yards and scores than Williams, who tossed for a career-high 470 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 33 yards and a TD.
Riley called Williams “one of the country’s greatest players”
USC’s Brett Neilon said, “He’s competitive and confident, but not arrogant. A+ dude.”
Williams said he’d handle the game against UCLA like any other. The Bruins lacked drive or hostility. After the game, players, coaches, and staff showed happiness, which had been absent at USC in recent years: success.
Saturday’s victory celebration took place in the same end zone as USC’s 2017 Rose Bowl triumph against Penn State.
The win against UCLA (8-3) confirmed USC’s dynamic offence and Williams’ Heisman Trophy candidacy. The Trojans’ defence has been inconsistent in causing turnovers and creating stops.
USC’s confidence was on display. Riley said there was no flinching despite falling down by two early in the game.
Riley responded, “No script first.” “Be prepared to act”
Riley was nearly overconfident that USC would rebound from their Utah loss. As his teammates flooded the field Saturday, they felt more than just victory. In a year, the Trojans stitched together a squad with a new coaching staff, a glut of transfers, and plenty of longtime players into a cohesive, successful outfit capable of fighting for conference crowns.
USC kept a West Coast club in postseason contention Saturday. Riley’s rebirth of USC forecasts a better future for a league and area that hasn’t made the top four as frequently as its peers.
“We wanted to come together,” said Alabama transfer Shane Lee. “We’re here to win titles”
Both Williams, who transferred from Oklahoma and is still getting acclimated to wearing cardinal and gold, and fifth-year senior guard Andrew Vorhees basked in the triumph as they embraced teammates and high-fived USC supporters who didn’t want to leave. Mike Bohn hugged Riley, who then watched the celebration alone.
Riley praised the sold-out crowd of more than 70,000 at the Rose Bowl postgame. “Weekly like this”
Photo Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/
More in Sports: https://buzzing.today/sports/