10:30 PM ET, December 4, 2010
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Allen Bradford's 212 rush yards, 47-yard TD catch carry USC past UCLA
PASADENA, Calif. -- When Allen Bradford climbed the ladder and thrust the sword skyward, Southern California's band and fans kicked off the only party they'll get this winter in the south end of the Rose Bowl.
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The Trojans stomped all over this hallowed real estate in four straight bowl games before last year, when their dynasty died. USC is going nowhere for the postseason, but Bradford and his teammates still wrapped up a tumultuous year on top of Los Angeles.
Bradford ran for 212 yards and caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Matt Barkley in the fourth quarter, and USC finished its first season under NCAA sanctions with a 28-14 victory over UCLA on Saturday night.
Barkley passed for 198 yards, Malcolm Smith returned a fumble 68 yards for a touchdown and the Trojans (8-5, 5-4 Pac-10) beat their crosstown rivals for the 11th time in 12 meetings, including four straight.
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Nobody likely enjoyed it more than Bradford, who capped a spectacular finale to his up-and-down career with a 73-yard TD run with 3:31 to play, churning through the heart of UCLA's defense. After a senior season spent mostly out of favor with coach Lane Kiffin, Bradford went out with two fourth-quarter TDs and the Trojan warrior's sword in his hand.
"It was a good ride. Times weren't so bad," Bradford said. "I'm a Trojan for life. Fight on. ... I couldn't have even dreamed it. To go down in history like this to top off my career, I couldn't ask for a better day."
USC won't appear in the postseason for the first time since 2000 while serving the first year of a two-season bowl ban. Despite NCAA sanctions, several transfers and embarrassing losses to Oregon State and Notre Dame in the past two weeks, the Trojans tied with Washington for third place in the Pac-10.
"We would have gone to the Holiday Bowl," Kiffin said. "That would have been pretty neat, but none of us can change that. ... It helps. It's still a disappointment to end the season with so many games we feel we should have won, so many times we feel we just handed them away. We finished third in the conference. There's some good to that, but it's well below our standards."
Johnathan Franklin ran for 109 yards and a touchdown for the Bruins (4-8, 2-7), who closed their disappointing third season under coach Rick Neuheisel with six losses in their last seven games. Joseph Fauria caught a 10-yard TD pass with 23 seconds left, but UCLA lost three straight to close the season, kicking off a winter of possible changes on Neuheisel's staff in Westwood.
"I've got to look hard at how we're going to turn the corner," said Neuheisel, who was booed during his brief postgame address to UCLA fans. "Those are hard decisions, and that's hard analysis, but it's absolutely mandatory that we come up with positive conclusions that will make those great Bruin fans keep coming back excited."
In the final Pac-10 game before the conference adds Utah and Colorado next season, USC kept the Victory Bell in the rivals' 80th meeting -- one that turned violent before the teams arrived at the Rose Bowl.
Most fans and players were unaware of a brawl three hours before kickoff involving dozens of early arriving fans in an outer parking lot. Two men were stabbed during the altercation, and three people were arrested.
Until Bradford's big fourth quarter, the blue-on-red clash of both teams' home jerseys was the most attractive thing in a disjointed, turnover-plagued game between two struggling programs wrapping up a decidedly down year for football in Los Angeles. For just the fourth time in 35 years, neither team is headed to the postseason, and both schools were unranked in the meeting for the first time since 2000.
"It's great, especially to go out," said Smith, who scored a defensive TD against UCLA for the second straight season. "This is our last game. It's good for our soul. ... It is our bowl game. We didn't have an opportunity to be in a bowl. This is the best we could do, and I'm glad we got the victory."
USC's offense awoke from two awful weeks with 474 yards in the return of Barkley, just two weeks after the sophomore got a high ankle sprain in the Trojans' loss at Oregon State. Tight end Rhett Ellison also caught a first-quarter TD pass from freshman tailback Dillon Baxter, who played every offensive skill position in high school in San Diego last year.
Bradford put the Trojans in control with 11:17 to play, catching a short pass from Barkley and rolling down the USC sideline into the end zone, aided by a key block from fullback Stanley Havili.
After UCLA's Taylor Embree couldn't hang onto a pass from Richard Brehaut in the corner of the end zone on fourth down with 4:25 to play, Bradford wrapped it up with his TD run directly at the USC band.
Brehaut's 230 yards passing were the second-most by a quarterback this season for UCLA, which ranked among the FBS' worst passing teams all year long. Embree had seven catches -- also the second-most by a Bruins player this year -- for 76 yards.
"The defense gave us great field position all night, and we just couldn't execute and couldn't get anything going," Brehaut said.
Two plays after Baxter's TD pass, Franklin responded with a 59-yard TD run down the UCLA sideline -- no doubt disappointing his father, a USC graduate rooting against his son.
Franklin lost the ball during a run with less than 3 minutes left in the half, and Smith rambled for a score upheld by video review. Last year at the Coliseum, Smith returned an interception 62 yards for a touchdown against the Bruins.
The Rose Bowl crowd was just 71,105, well below capacity.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-13||4-12|
|4th Down Conversions||1-4||1-2|
|TD||04:39||Rhett Ellison 5 Yd Pass From Dillon Baxter (Joe Houston Kick)||7||0|
|TD||03:47||Johnathan Franklin 59 Yd Run (Kai Forbath Kick)||7||7|
|TD||02:31||Malcolm Smith 68 Yd Fumble Return (Joe Houston Kick)||14||7|
|TD||11:17||Allen Bradford 47 Yd Pass From Matt Barkley (Joe Houston Kick)||21||7|
|TD||03:31||Allen Bradford 73 Yd Run (Joe Houston Kick)||28||7|
|TD||00:23||Joseph Fauria 10 Yd Pass From Richard Brehaut (Kai Forbath Kick)||28||14|