Trojans Beat Bruins Loud And Clear

Bold title dream for Lincoln Riley and Trojans alive after USC Shuts Up UCLA

Lincoln Riley said USC’s lofty aim this season was to win a national title, and the Trojans’ hopes remain on track after a 48-45 victory over UCLA.

USC’s Korey Foreman picks off UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, ending their final drive near games end at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday. Trojans won 48-45. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bill Plaschke Column (LA Times —  Late last summer, this columnist asked Lincoln Riley for his expectations for this season.

“To win the championship,” he said.

He was crazy. He was cocky. He was right.

Unbelievably, after 11 games, Riley’s USC football team is in position to fulfill the wildest of expectations in the most extravagant of ways.

They can win a Pac-12 championship. They can win a national championship. Somewhat incredibly, actually living up to the histrionics surrounding the offseason hiring of Riley, they can make history.

Less than a year after a 4-8 debacle, the Trojans are riding a 10-1 dream after an unexpectedly powerful 48-45 defeat of UCLA on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.

Unexpectedly, at least in this space, because the pick was the Bruins.

Powerful, because, boy, was I wrong.

“Found a way, obviously,” Riley said.

Lincoln Riley talks with Bruins QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson after USC’s victory Saturday night. “Found a way, obviously,” Riley said afterward. (Luis Sinco / LAT)

The Bruins were predicted to have the better quarterback. They did not. The Trojans’ Caleb Williams was Heisman-good. Seriously, send Williams to New York City after he racked up 503 total yards and three total touchdowns while going 32 of 43 through the chilly air for 470 yards.

Yes, 503 yards is the highest total individual output in this series’ 92-game history. And, yes, once Williams lands in New York, after this nationally televised performance, he should be the Heisman favorite.

“He’s been one the best players in the country this year,” Riley said of his star. “He’s been that all year.”

Meanwhile, although UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson was spectacularly tough while playing with an injured hand, he committed four turnovers that led to 10 points and the unofficial end of the game.

The Bruins were also predicted to have the better of two bad defenses, but the Trojans held UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet to his fewest yards this season (95) while simply steamrolled the Bruins in total yardage, 649-513.

Finally, the Bruins were predicted to have an obvious home-field advantage, but USC fans filled up an end zone and howled through the night as their team made one inspirational play after another.

The Trojans trailed 14-0 early. They fought back to take the lead in the third quarter.

They then traded body blows with UCLA throughout the rest of the game, score after score, highlight after highlight, the Trojans staggered but never dropped, the Bruins charging and charging but ultimately stopped.

“Not even thinking about flinching,” Riley said.

The final moment of inspiration occurred in the waning minutes of the game when forgotten former top recruit Korey Foreman intercepted Thompson-Robinson around midfield to clinch the victory.

“Big-time for Korey to be the guy,” Riley said. “I mean, you just never know when it’s going to be your moment. And he [was] ready.”

So too were the Trojans’ fans, who chanted, “We Are … SC!” as their team engaged in their trademark celebration of rushing to the marching band and dancing to the music.

“College football on the West Coast, here in L.A., is alive and well,” Riley said. “People who were in that stadium tonight, where you were a UCLA fans, whether you were a USC fan, they won’t forget nights like that. What an unbelievable experience.”

Unbelievably, the championship path for the seventh-ranked Trojans is now clear. If USC beats Notre Dame next week and then wins the Pac-12 championship game Dec. 2 in Las Vegas, it will almost certainly be selected for the College Football Playoff’s final four, with the championship to be played Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium.

So, yeah, in avenging a 62-33 drubbing by the Bruins last season, the Trojans actually set themselves up to possibly playing for the national title.

“We didn’t come here to play for second, we are not wired that way,” Riley said on that late-summer day. “We came here competitively to win championships, win them now and to win them for a long time.”

Could that time begin now? At the start of Saturday’s game, it didn’t seem like it. USC quickly fell behind 14-0 in front of a roaring crowd that kept getting louder.

On USC’s first possession, the Trojans drove 54 yards on 10 plays, but it was all for nothing when Williams was stuffed on fourth and one on the UCLA 21-yard line.

After the Trojans’ defense held the Bruins, the offense took control again and drove 41 yards in five plays to set up Denis Lynch for a 32-yard field-goal attempt. But he missed wide left, ruining the second of two great early Trojans opportunities before UCLA had scored a point.

After UCLA found its offense and drove 80 yards downfield to score on a Thompson-Robinson sneak, USC blew it again, when Williams committed only his third interception of the season, a poor pass that was picked off at midfield by Kain Madrano.

On the next play, Thompson-Robinson found Michael Ezeike wide open down the right sideline for a 30-yard touchdown pass and an eventual 14-0 UCLA lead.

Blowout happening? Not quite. Not with Williams in the huddle.

“Swings are going to happen, you have to be prepared for them,” Williams said. “You have to keep fighting. You have to keep fighting.”

USC indeed fought back to score on drives of 72,75 and 79 yards. Williams rushed for six yards for one touchdown, Austin Jones ran eight yards for another touchdown, and Lynch kicked a 44-yard field goal.

Yeah, that Austin Jones. In his first game replacing Travis Dye, who is out for the season with a knee injury, Jones gained 120 yards and scored two touchdowns while sometimes dragging half of Westwood with him.

“There’s not one person in the locker room surprised about the way he plays, he’s worked like that,” Riley said. “Another great example of the unselfishness of this team.”

Austin Jones leaps into the end zone against the Bruins in the third quarter.
(Wally Skalij / LAT)

The initial USC counterpunch was enough to keep the Trojans close against a UCLA offense that seemed equally unstoppable, and then USC had a great chance to take the lead at the end of the first half when Mekhi Blackmon stepped in front of a Thompson-Robinson pass and returned it to the USC 35-yard line in the final minutes.

But on third down deep in Bruins territory, Brenden Rice dropped a pass, then Lynch missed a 33-yard field goal wide left, his second miss of the night.

But the Trojans weren’t done. On the ensuing UCLA drive, Thompson-Robinson had his second interception in two possessions, this one picked out of mid-air by a leaping Shane Lee. Three plays later, Lynch was short on a 49-yard field goal, but UCLA’s Chip Kelly had called a timeout, so they ran the play again, and this time Lynch nailed it, ending the half with UCLA leading 21-20.

The Trojans trailed by a point, but the momentum was all theirs.

“Trying to lead, keep my guys’ heads up, because the game is never over in big games,” Williams said.

The Bruins reeled off an 11-play drive to start the third quarter, but USC eventually held, and the Bruins had to settle for a 46-yard field goal by Nicholas Barr-Mira to give them a 24-20 lead.

USC took over and, four plays later, Williams found Jordan Addison all alone down the right sideline for a 35-yard touchdown pass to give the Trojans their first lead at 27-24 with 8:50 left in the third quarter.

They never trailed again.

And, in the end, it turns out they didn’t react too well to UCLA’s pregame chirping, particularly the rivalry stoking by Thompson-Robinson.

“We heard all their stuff,” Trojans center Brett Neilon said. “You know, you can tell those teddy bears we beat them. So they can say whatever they want, do whatever they want, but we run L.A., so I’m happy.”

And, amazingly enough, now the real fun begins.

latimes.com

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John Weld
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November 20, 2022 8:19 am

Current TDB Contest Standings After Week 11

  1. Chris – 26000
  2. DubPar22 – 22000
  3. San Diego Trojan-20000 
  4. Satyrdancing – 17500 
  5. Trojan RJJ – 15250
  6. Troy5543 – 15000
  7. Rialto Trojan –14250  

Just two weeks left in the contest, time to make a move………….

Link to original post with itemization of weekly wager/results: Click Here

Chris
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November 20, 2022 10:15 am
Reply to  John Weld

I’m not sure if anyone remembers the old Richard Dreyfus movie called let it ride. But that’s the train I’m on. I will either win this thing or finish last. Whatever the lines are I’m all in on USC.

Steveg
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November 20, 2022 10:18 am
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I already finished last Chris, so you can come in 2nd to last. LOL

volunteerTrojan
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November 21, 2022 7:48 am

Nice little compare and contrast piece between USC and ucla over on Trojans Wire.

Enjoy, and very happy Monday, Trojan Faithful!

https://trojanswire.usatoday.com/lists/uclas-bitter-failure-magnifies-uscs-immediate-success/

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November 21, 2022 6:49 am

What a difference a year makes! Hats off to Coach Riley for molding such a great SC team out of a lot of transfers and what was left over from the Helton debacle. Caleb Williams is an exciting player and reminds me of Rodney Peete. A few of us remember Rodney finishing second in the 1988 Heisman voting to Barry Sanders.

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November 20, 2022 8:47 pm

Off topic. I’m watching a live stream of Elton John’s last North American concert at Dodger Stadium, on Disney +, and I’m transported back to that 17 year old kid with his high school sweetheart, watching him there in 1975. I must just be a sentimental old fool, but it represents so much of the joy and good fortune i had to grow up in Los Angeles, and to be part of all the opportunities and events that we all got to experience here. It truly was and still is the sports and entertainment capital of the world!

HOF19
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November 20, 2022 8:00 pm

What a date in USC History (from College football news.com) >>>>> Pete Fiutak | November 28 2021 3:57 pm CT  Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak Lincoln Riley Takes USC Head Coaching Job ……….NOVEMBER 28 2021 A Date that is HUGE in USC History ….. Fight On !!!!! article link >>>>> https://collegefootballnews.com/2021/11/lincoln-riley-to-usc-billy-napier-to-florida-game-on

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November 20, 2022 9:10 pm
Reply to  HOF19

How fast we went from hopeless to hopeful in a years time

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November 20, 2022 9:28 pm
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Billy Napier huh. He just lost to Vandy. Nuff said.

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November 20, 2022 3:12 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Totally agree. This one will stand out in my mind for the rest of my time on this rock. Over the years, I tend to forget the stakes when we win, but remember the big plays and outcome. I only remember the stakes when we lose, like the 13-9 costing us a natty opportunity. But this game was exciting throughout, and right before Korey’s INT, I had the dreadful feeling that we were going to lose, which made the INT so awesome! There is still little question in my mind that, without that INT, we were going to have our… Read more »

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November 20, 2022 7:32 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

The Rose Bowl may be where the ruins play, but the Trojans own it.

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November 20, 2022 2:09 pm

Up to now, Korey Foreman has been a big disappointment. But whether he pans out or not, he will always be a Trojan hero, and many years from now, people will remember that play.
Way to go Korey- you will be immortalized in Trojan Football lore.

Chris
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November 20, 2022 1:07 pm

I have two crazy thoughts after a little night armchair QB’ing this thing.

  1. with just a tiny bit of better decision making we hang almost 70. Seriously left 21 pints on the field.
  2. I will take Caleb over any QB I have ever watched play here. He’s tops on my list.
USC1988
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November 20, 2022 1:15 pm
Reply to  Chris

Loved to see Rodney Peete in today’s game

USC1988
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November 20, 2022 1:03 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Two dynamic qbs with great arms and terrific feet … led by two dynamic play callers. The nation is falling back on the ‘wait until have to Big 10 in November’ panic. They are worried … SC is back.

Steveg
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November 20, 2022 11:21 am

Pac12 with 6 teams in top 25, more than anyone. USC at #5. B1G has 3, SEC has 5, ACC has 3.

USC1988
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November 20, 2022 1:03 pm
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It will be nice not facing a 6 year vet qb for once

John Weld
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November 20, 2022 3:37 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

When was the last time that we saw USC ahead of Alabama in the polls, wow!

USC1988
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November 20, 2022 4:39 pm
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1978 lol

John Weld
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November 20, 2022 6:22 pm
Reply to  USC1988

That was my sophomore year and we beat the #1 ranked Alabama in Alabama. USC & Alabama ended up with identical 10 and 1 records with us being #1 in the Coaches poll and Alabama ended up #1 in the AP poll. Our only loss that year was the on the road in Tempe against the the Frank Kush coached Sun Devils.

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November 20, 2022 7:38 pm
Reply to  John Weld

USC got hosed. How do you ignore the head to head matchup. Especially with USC on the road.

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November 21, 2022 6:46 am
Reply to  UtahTrojan

Ever since I’ve always felt the media is slanted towards the SEC. To think that they poo pooed SC’s dominating victory over ALA in their house is unconscionable.

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November 21, 2022 6:43 am
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I was a second year grad student in the Business School in 1978. My best friend in HS got a swim scholarship to Alabama and he got me a ticket to the 1978 game in the ALA student section, so I flew to Birmingham and went to the game. USC won the game handily with Charles White ripping off a long run to open the scoring for SC. Paul McDonald had a good day passing and the Defense kept ALA’s wishbone offense in check most of the game. I will never forget that experience as after the game I went… Read more »

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November 20, 2022 7:37 pm
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2002 – 2008

HOF19
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November 20, 2022 9:25 am

One other thing ………..Here in NY Metro area I wear MY USC Colors (as I am typing this in fact) but it does not get noticed much (which is quite OK ) But any USC fans from Los Angeles when you go out-and-about Town ………. WEAR THOSE COLORS …..PLEASE …..Fight On !!!!!

Steveg
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November 20, 2022 10:19 am
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I wore mine in Berlin and got several hand signs, either one finger or two for fight on

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November 20, 2022 1:07 pm
Reply to  HOF19

I sat next to three guys wearing Notre Dame hats at the Stanford game. They left midway through the third quarter. Had a nice chat with Andrew Luck on the way across campus to parking after the game. Nice guy. He said he was sad that USC would
possibly not be playing in that stadium again. He said he has great respect for the Trojans and what they mean to college football. Congratulated me, my son and his wife, on the win. We congratulated him on being inducted into the college football hall of fame. I love college football.

UtahTrojan
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November 20, 2022 7:39 pm
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In Las Vegas wearing them.

HOF19
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November 20, 2022 9:20 am

What I love a lot ….The Fact that I KNOW Lincoln Riley has probably put last night in the rear view mirror and has his staff Allready working on the Notre Dame Game ……….FIGHT ON !!!!!!!!!!

USC1988
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November 20, 2022 1:07 pm
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LR is all business … no stupid sociopath antics like Kiffy ( down 42-3 last night lol )
or lazy ass doped up BS of Suckisian. Just football, a real coach and a damn good one. His confidence is palpable. Unreal.

Chris
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November 20, 2022 10:10 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I’m no fan and certainly glad after his talking he got put in his rightful place, but that kid played as hard as he could. I cannot remember a QB throwing real down field blocks like that, it was impressive.

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November 21, 2022 5:19 am
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That was awesome how DTR was lead blocking on sweeps Saturday–pretty effective, too!

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November 20, 2022 7:41 pm
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Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

John Weld
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November 20, 2022 8:39 am

Love watching the young guys celebrate

https://twitter.com/uscfb/status/1594212097596215296

Rushmore
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November 20, 2022 8:13 am

My toast to the rivalry:
THE GAME 🏈🏟️
(by Rushmore)
How many clothed in Azure and Gold
Have joined the conflict 
On the field
Or in the stadium stands;
How many clad in Cardinal and Gold
Have given their all
In hopes that 
Conquest would flow from the band, 
And later in life
Lift their glasses—
To the rivalry—
To the still burning flame—
To honor each other,
Out of respect for the game?

John Weld
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November 20, 2022 8:29 am
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Very Cool!✌

ATL D.D.S.
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November 20, 2022 9:35 am
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Nice. 

volunteerTrojan
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November 20, 2022 7:13 am

We are 1 game better than I had us (predicted losses to OSU and Utah). But admittedly, I would not have been surprised had we lost last last evening. I was not sure we could overcome the triple threat of their qb, rb and te. I think how we held their rb in check was the difference.

Starting yesterday, we are effectively in a 5 game playoff run.

I slept peacefully. Fight On!

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November 20, 2022 10:10 am

Four wins away from a NC! I am not looking past ND, really, but who would have thought a year ago it would be possible. Amazing.

Steveg
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November 20, 2022 6:51 am

Finding sleep last night was tough as the game went through my mind over and over. Lincoln Riley is the gift that keeps on giving. Every Saturday is Christmas. I am at a loss for words on how blown away I am from this great turn around at USC. I don’t think I ever truly believed we could be to this point in this season. But now, here we are, in the midst of a serious playoff drive about to play ND with very big implications for USC. Bring on the domers, we are USC.

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November 20, 2022 7:09 am
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Steveg, I do not think any of us saw this coming. And, yes, we are in the midst of a national championship drive. It is like we are in a 4 game playoff to get to the national championship game – the rest of the year was simply a prelude to get here. Last night was the first game of the 4. Beat ND and then beat either Oregon or Washington (I personally think it will be Washington as I expect the Huskies to beat the Cougs and the Beavers to beat the Ducks) and I think we are in… Read more »

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November 20, 2022 7:20 am
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I can’t see the po committee taking a 1 loss non conference champ from B10 over a 1 loss P12 champ. That could have happened with BCS computers, but I don’t see the committee doing that. They wouldn’t want a possible midwest rematch at the expense of bringing in the west coast interest. The lower of Michigan and tosu only gets in if tcu loses.

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November 20, 2022 8:07 am

volunteer, As I point out above, our move to the B10 I think helps us a lot. As far as the B10 views it, SC is a B10 team.

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November 20, 2022 1:41 pm
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Agree. And shortly after joining, the playoffs will be expanded, so get ready nation….here we come!

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November 20, 2022 7:54 am
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Strength of schedule will play strongly in any decision between USC and Michigan. I see USC having the favorable strength position and going over Michigan, which will really upset their coach and that makes me very happy to see happen. I do believe that the ucla team we played last night was pretty darn good and probably better that what ND has. Hopefully we will be back at full strength on defense next week to host the domers.

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November 20, 2022 8:06 am
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Fresno State leads its division in the MW (now that it has Haevner back) and will play for the league championship. If it had not lost Haevner (in our game), the Bulldogs would probably have only two losses (SC and Oregon State). Rice is now 5-6 and not a push over, but hardly in Fresno’s class as a team. If we win out (a big if), we will be a 1 loss conference champ with wins in the last three games over top 15 teams (UCLA (on the road), ND, and then Oregon/Washington). If Oregon State manages to stay in… Read more »

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November 20, 2022 11:29 am
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I may have the tie breaker wrong. According to Wilner, if OSU beats Oregon, and Wa beats WSU, then Utah goes. Obviously, if Oregon wins, it goes.

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November 20, 2022 4:33 pm
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Michigan will get wrecked by OhioSt … unfortunately

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November 20, 2022 7:43 am
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Agreed. Still shocked we are here. Extremely happy we are.

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November 20, 2022 4:36 pm
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LR has that McKay, Robo 1, and Carroll USC magic to him …. never going to lose vs anyone no matter where and how. Matter of fact, even more so since he calls the plays.

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November 20, 2022 6:51 am

Last night’s game is why I love collegiate football. Did not hurt that SC won. For me, it was one of those games that move to the level of drama that once it is over, you know you have seen something special. SC beat a great UCLA team. When this UCLA team is playing at home and its O is clicking, it is among the best in the nation. This UCLA team playing at the level we saw last night basically ran both Utah and Washington off the field. It committed 4 turnovers and still scored 45 points. (I do… Read more »

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November 20, 2022 6:39 am

It’s a great morning. Woke up to a text from a friend who is a bRuin – “we aren’t going to touch you guys for a long time” I just texted back “yep”

Lincoln Riley should be coach of the year and Caleb better be in New York, they deserve it.

10-1 baby! Beat the Irish! Fight on!

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November 20, 2022 6:57 am
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Chris, he is right. I think this is the best UCLA will be for some time. DTR was a five year starter, something that will never happen again. This roster is loaded with kids with tons of experience and talent. And, a large number of them graduate this year. I think the drop off next year will be dramatic.

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November 20, 2022 1:10 pm
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This will be the worst SC team LR ever has at USC … think about it

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November 20, 2022 7:46 am
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And that is the best that they will ever be.

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November 20, 2022 11:27 am
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It is an interesting thought. Rationalizing is a human trait. Clay did very well with a great QB. He won a Rose Bowl and then the Pac 12. So, he may think that if he had a Caleb (like a Sam), he could have done as well at SC. Really do not know. FYI, his next game is against Appalachian State, which is almost a sure loss. So, he goes 5-7 his first year. But, he did get Scott Frost fired.

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November 20, 2022 7:30 pm
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Stanford is in last place, down there with Colorado and they fired their coach. If Stanford keeps Shaw they don’t really care about football any more.

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November 20, 2022 1:12 pm
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He doesn’t know a football player from a cheeseburger … LR wouldn’t give Solvis or Daniels a second of his time

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November 20, 2022 1:20 pm
Reply to  USC1988

1988, that is funny and accurate. I give Helton at best 3 years in his present job and then he goes he way of Kevin Sumlin and Charlie Weis.

UtahTrojan
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November 20, 2022 7:47 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Once again we can say that with confidence. We run LA.