USC vs. UCLA: Battle for Pasadena or Something

November 19, 2016 at 7:37pm
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA: 71,137 (92,524)
Total Time: 3 hours 16 minutes

Ah, the annual Battle for Los Angeles—which actually happens in Pasadena rather than LA every other year. I guess it’s still LA County so it counts? But then there’s this…

I guess they’re mad at LA or something because they don’t have their own stadium there.

I still find funny that USC is closer to UCLA’s home stadium than the Bruins are. Nothing like driving almost 30 miles in infamous LA traffic to get to your “home stadium.” Perhaps that’s why an entire freaking section was empty at the Rose Bowl.


Looks like Section 11 and half of section 10

Were they saving those seats for ghosts or something? Or maybe you shouldn’t charge a $110 base price for a regular season game. In comparison, an equivalent seat in AT&T Stadium for the USC vs. Alabama would’ve cost $100. A better seat at the Coliseum for USC vs. Notre Dame is $89. These are all face values, not secondhand pricing on StubHub or anything. The price tag is ultimately what kept me from going for the first time in 6 or 7 years, which probably uncoincidentally was about when the previous low occurred. They probably could’ve packed the place out if they dropped the price a bit to something less ridiculous.

The start was about as bad as the attendance. An aggressive defense let UCLA quarterback, Mike Fafaul complete some passes and bad tackling allowed the receiver to run 56 yards for the touchdown. USC, helped by back-to-back UCLA penalties, scored a touchdown on half a field. Not long after, Sam Darnold throws an interception when the UCLA defensive back jumps the route. That set UCLA up for their second and final score.

USC finally decided they had enough and proceded to go on a 29-0 scoring run by the end of the game. They all got together and decided to play monkey in the middle with UCLA. Of USC’s 12 drives, seven of them were for 9 or more plays. Four were for 10 or more plays, including an 18-play, 9 minute drive. They only went three-and-out twice and only punted twice. If not for some turnovers and penalties, it seemed like USC could score on just about every drive—even against a solid UCLA defense. At the final whistle, USC held the ball for a disgustingly lopsided 43 minutes and 47 seconds to UCLA’s 16 minutes and 13 seconds.

Last year was a similar affair in terms of time of possession. The 2015 totals were 40:01 to 19:59. At the time I thought that wouldn’t be topped for a while. Pretty crazy for it to happen the very next game in the series. As good as it was, there were a lot of hiccups along the way.

Right as the Trojans took the lead, they missed the PAT. Quite the frustrating start, but a lead is a lead. You’d be tempted to blame the kicker for this one, but upon closer inspection, you’ll see that the holder put the laces towards the kicker—a big no-no. This holder has caused quite a few issues in the past and was at fault (at Fafault?) for this PAT.

Drive-killing penalties still plague the team every now and then. Sometimes Darnold’s improv ability digs them out the hole, sometimes it doesn’t. Take for example the 3rd-and-36 when the game was only one possession apart. Darnold ended up throwing his second interception there, which wasn’t too bad. It ended up working out to basically be a punt. However, I think the better option would’ve been to try to pick up 10-15 yards and kick the field goal. Not too big of a deal though.

A big deal was the end of the first half. USC was quickly running out of time. Helton found himself in a similar predicament. He had used all of his timeouts earlier and now had to improvise for some clock stopping. Most people would simply think, “Oh, just get up to the line quickly and spike the ball.” That’s why you’re not a head coach. Don’t you remember that Helton maxed out his timeout skill past 99 in Madden? He put his ability on display again Saturday night by mindgaming UCLA head coach, Jim Mora, to take the timeout for him.

Some More Good stuff:

  • Darnold’s game-changing ability to fix broken plays.
  • De’Quan Hampton making two tough touchdown catches in traffic
  • Ronald Jones getting another 100-yard game
  • Rasheem Green for his pressure on the QB and the field goal block
  • Jalen Greene’s catch on third down while Darreus Rogers accidentally does an impression of a defensive back. They eventually scored a TD on that drive.
  • While the defense couldn’t get any sacks, they pressured Fafaul enough to cause punts on 7 out of 11 meaningful drives. Four of them were three-and-outs.

Some More Bad Stuff:

  • Khaliel Rodgers’ still hasn’t quite settled into the center role. His only snap ended in a 12 yard loss and it could’ve been worse
  • The game got bad enough that the sportscasters, Steve Levy and Brian Griese started t talking about Griese’s glory days at Michigan instead of commentating on the game. They made no mention of a near interception and continue to chat through the entire UCLA possession. The sad part was that this was probably all premeditated to some level. They had clips from the1996 Michigan-Ohio State game andsome of his career highlights all queued up.

Now that the Trojans have done all they can in the conference, they must wait for Colorado to drop a game to qualify as a the Pac-12 South Champion. Colorado will face Utah at home on Folsom Field at 4:30pm on Saturday. Thanks for the loss last week Utah, but you need to win this week.

CommBro Breaker

It’s okay UCLA, it wasn’t a real rivalry game anyway.

There was no stabbing of the field to signify the start of the game. Some say we are still waiting for the 2012 game to start.

Misleading Stat of the Week: UCLA scored more points per minute of possession(0.863) than USC (0.822)

Depressing Stat of the Week: Seven win streak, convincing win over top 5 team and local rivalry, and possibly NY6 bowl on the horizon? Gotta balance it out with some sad stat.

For the first time this season, Matt Boermeester missed an extra point attempt.

Uplifting Stat of the Week: Okay, I can’t leave you on a sour note like that.

UCLA had more yards punting (280) than total offense (266).

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