When Jim Mora accepted the position as head coach of the UCLA Bruins, he was well aware of the long-standing rivalry between UCLA and USC, having played in the PAC-12 with the Washington Huskies in the early 1980s.
On Saturday, Mora put his stamp on the rivalry, guiding the Bruins to an easy 35-14 win over the Trojans.
USC came into Saturday’s matchup owning a decisive lead in the rivalry that dates back to 1929. In fact, in the first decade of the new millennium, UCLA had defeated the Trojans only once, winning in 2006.
UCLA broke through last year, defeating USC 38-28 in Mora’s first year on the job. This year, the Bruins entered the game with an 8-3 record and No. 22 national ranking, while the Trojans entered with a 9-3 record and No. 23 ranking.
The outcome was never really in doubt. UCLA scored first, with linebacker-turned-fullback Myles Jack scoring his seventh rushing touchdown of the season on a three-yard run. The Bruins would go up 14-0 before USC finally got on the board in the second quarter on an 11-yard run by running back Javorius Allen.
UCLA bounced back, scoring on their first possession of the second half to once again gain a 14-point advantage. After Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler connected with tight end Xavier Grimble on a 22-yard scoring strike to close the gap to 21-14, UCLA scored 14 unanswered points to put the game away.
Bruins sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley shined once again after an impressive effort last year in the 38-28 win over USC in the fight for ownership of the Victory Bell. This year, Hundley rushed for two touchdowns and passed for 208 yards.
Hundley is mulling a decision on whether to leave school early and enter the NFL Draft.
has any say
, Hundley will be guiding the Bruins once again next season.
“I'm pretty confident that he will want to stay a part of this thing,” Mora said. “You don't want to rush through this. The allure of the money and the NFL is great, but there is nothing like a night like tonight.”
NFL.com scout Bucky Brooks agrees with Mora in that Hundley would be rushing things by opting for the NFL Draft. Brooks wrote back in October that Hundley wasn’t ready:
Of course, I don't know his family or financial situation, but my assessment comes after watching him play several times this season. While I'm impressed with his talent, football IQ and work ethic, I believe he could become a legitimate top 10 prospect in a subsequent draft with improved accuracy, judgment and poise. Not that he is severely lacking in either category, but to be considered a franchise-caliber quarterback he must display better consistency in those areas.
In addition, Hundley would have the opportunity to pull off a feat rarely achieved in the long history of the USC-UCLA. He could become one of the only UCLA quarterbacks ever to defeat USC in four straight years. Considering the allure of the NFL, however, that’s likely not enough to keep him in a Bruins uniform.
For Mora, he can now boast of owning USC during his tenure, and can use those bragging rights in the ongoing recruiting war with the Trojans as well. The crosstown rivals have long engaged in a battle over the state of California’s best high school prospects, and Mora can use his back-to-back wins over USC to his advantage.
That’s the message that Mora can now deliver. Given his success in the fight for the Victory Bell, it could be enough to entice the state’s best prep stars.
For now, however, Mora can bask in the knowledge that he is the king of LA college football.