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UCLA Defeats USC Football As ‘Epitome’ Of Failed Season

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USC and head coach Lincoln Riley were faced with a bitter end to a disappointing season as UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond and Bruins players dragged the Victory Bell through the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum tunnel following a commanding 38-20 victory over their crosstown rivals on Saturday.

When the Trojans started the season ranked sixth in the nation, it would have seemed inconceivable that they would lose five of their final six regular-season games. But after a 7–5 campaign, there was a lot of blame to go around as they looked for answers.

“I’ve clearly not done a good enough job in the second half of the season to get this team ready,” Riley said. “I’ve got to do a much better job.”

USC’s performance in the season finale was representative of the team’s struggles throughout. With nothing more at stake than the honor of defeating their rivals, the Trojans once again demonstrated subpar defensive play, careless errors, and an unreliable offense that even Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams was unable to turn around.

“We just didn’t execute,” wide receiver Tahj Washington said. “We’re just leaving a lot out there. That’s just been an epitome of what it’s been lately.”

Williams, a junior who is most likely going to be the first overall pick in the NFL, decided not to speak to the media on Saturday.

“He came here and took a chance on this place and took a chance on being a part of restarting this program and getting it going,” Riley said. “He’s a special player, special competitor, and obviously we’ll see what goes on from there.”

This week, Williams, who completed his passing for 386 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, declared that he would use the Thanksgiving holiday to consider his options going forward.

He had a difficult time reproducing the magic of his 2022 campaign the entire season due to an offensive line regression that resulted in 35 sacks, including four against UCLA.

The USC team’s impressive 6-0 start is a thing of the past in a season filled with thrilling wins and thrilling close losses. The defense’s historic turnover margin from the previous season was not to be repeated, and as a result, coordinator Alex Grinch was fired. The defense finished among the lowest in the nation.

After Grinch left, not much was fixed. A UCLA offense that had scored 45 points in total in its three prior games was limited to 38 points by the Trojans.

Riley expressed his disappointment with the way the season went, but he also claimed that the team was “emotionally worn down” after its previous nine games, all of which were decided by less than 20 points.

Riley acknowledged the need for evolution despite last season’s turnaround, even though he did not say whether USC will make any additional staff or strategic changes before the Trojans move to the Big Ten the following season.

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