USC’s defense never let up and for the first time in four seasons, the Trojans can claim Los Angeles after a 40-21 victory over rival UCLA.
USC improves to 8-4 overall and 6-3 in the Pac-12 Conference while UCLA falls to 8-4 and 5-4.
The Trojans, winners of the Pac-12 South Division, will play Stanford in the Pac-12 Conference championship game next Saturday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
USC defensive lineman Rasheem Green, a freshman, recovered a fumble in the third quarter and returned it 31 yards to give USC a 26-21 lead.
Cornerback Iman Marshall, also a freshman, followed with interceptions in the third and fourth quarters.
Marshall’s first interception was converted into a touchdown when Cody Kessler completed a 20-yard pass to Darreus Rogers for a 33-21 lead. His second interception helped clinch the win as USC gained three first downs on the ensuing possession to run out the clock.
Rosen was 19 of 37 for 227 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. He was sacked three times.
Kessler completed 15 of 26 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions.
USC tailback Justin Davis rushed for 130 yards in 25 carries.
UCLA’s Paul Perkins rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns in 17 carries.
Iman Marshall intercepted Josh Rosen for a second time and USC ran out the clock to defeat UCLA, 40-21, for the first time in four seasons.
Justin Davis closed the game for USC and rushed for 44 yards in six carries.
Cody Kessler ended the game in the victory formation.
USC 40, UCLA 21 -- 6:18 left in fourth quarter
USC took 6:46 off the clock and added seven more points when Cody Kessler completed a seven-yard pass to Taylor McNamara.
The drive went 68 yards in 11 plays.
Justin Davis rushed for 43 yards in seven carries to setup the touchdown.
Center Khaliel Rodgers, who was sidelined in the first half, returned to the line.
USC’s defense is playing as hard as it has all season and UCLA punted again.
Su’a Cravens closed -- fast -- on a pass to Thomas Duarte and it fell incomplete.
Then, Olajuwon Tucker sacked Josh Rosen on third down.
UCLA’s defense made a stand and USC punted.
Ronald Jones II rushed for four yards in consecutive carries after a first down pass to Taylor McNamara fell incomplete.
The Bruins need to score on this possession to keep this close.
Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired in the third quarter.
USC’s secondary shut down UCLA’s receivers on the drive.
Adoree’ Jackson broke up a pass intended for Darren Andrews and then Jackson started doing pushups -- you read that right -- to prove some odd point.
Jordan Payton caught a 21-yard pass before Josh Rosen threw two incompletions and then on third and 15 Marvell Tell broke up a pass intended for Kenneth Walker III.
UCLA must score soon if it wants to stay in this.
USC 33, UCLA 21 -- 1:44 left to play in the third quarter
Iman Marshall intercepted Josh Rosen and USC converted it into a touchdown when Cody Kessler completed a 20-yard pass to Darreus Rogers who made an impressive catch and reached across the goal line for a touchdown.
Rosen had completed 245 passes since his last interception.
USC fans in the Coliseum have come alive and all the momentum seems to have shifted to the Trojans.
USC 26, UCLA 21 -- 7:16 left in the third quarter
Rasheem Green recovered a Josh Rosen fumble and returned it 31 yards for a USC touchdown. Claude Pelon made the sack and forced the fumble.
USC attempted a two-point conversion that failed - to loud boos from the Coliseum - which wanted pass interference called.
Aaron Wallace sacked Cody Kessler on third down and the second half is off to a slow start for USC’s offense.
Kessler threw an incomplete pass and Ronald Jones II rushed for two yards.
UCLA 21, USC 20 -- 8:38 left in the third quarter
UCLA finally found a rhythm on offense. Paul Perkins rushed one yard for a Bruins touchdown to take the lead, 21-20.
Josh Rosen completed a 28-yard pass to Perkins, a 10-yard pass to Jordan Payton, a 16-yard pass to Darren Andrews and another 12-yard pass to Payton on the drive.
Kevon Seymour was called for pass interference in the end zone, which gave UCLA a fresh set of chances inside USC’s 10-yard line.
Antwaun Woods tackled Perkins short of the goal line on his first attempt, but Perkins slipped in on second down.
UCLA’s defense put the pressure on Cody Kessler and USC was forced to punt.
Justin Davis rushed for five yards before Kessler was under pressure and somehow managed to get pass off to Davis, who dropped it.
Dominic Davis was tackled inches short of a first down.
UCLA went three and out to begin the second half.
Paul Perkins rushed for three yards and caught a three-yard pass.
Josh Rosen’s third-down pass was tipped by Chris Hawkins and Perkins caught it short of a first down.
Nate Starks rushed for 12 yards before Paul Perkins caught a two-yard pass and then rushed for 30 yards as the clock ran out.
Josh Rosen is eight of 17 for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Cody Kessler is 10 of 18 for 124 yards.
USC has rushed for 120 yards and UCLA has rushed for 100 yards.
Surprisingly, both teams’ penalties have been kept in check. UCLA has one for five yards and USC has two for 20 yards.
Randall Goforth broke up Cody Kessler’s third-down pass and USC punted.
Kessler completed 10-yard and four-yard passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster to start the drive.
Kessler’s second-down pass to Tyler Petite fell incomplete in tight coverage by Jaleel Wadood.
USC’s defense is stifling UCLA as Su’a Cravens nearly picked off a Josh Rosen pass.
The Bruins go three and out in a second consecutive drive.
Nate Starks rushed for three yards before Rosen threw two incompletions.
Rosen is seven of 16 for 96 yards and a touchdown.
USC 20, UCLA 14 -- 1:44 left in the second quarter
What a turn of momentum - Adoree’ Jackson returned a punt 42 yards for a USC touchdown.
UCLA went three and out - capped by a third-down sack by Scott Felix - which forced the Bruins to punt from their own end zone.
Jackson also returned a punt for a touchdown last week against Oregon - same situation - in a short field.
UCLA 14, USC 13 -- 2:47 left to play in the second quarter
USC’s drive stalled on the four yard line and Alex Wood kicked a 21-yard field goal.
UCLA’s Kenny Clark returned to the defense after he was sidelined on the previous drive with an apparent injury.
USC made it inside UCLA’s 30-yard line before left tackle Chad Wheeler was called for a false start, which ultimately really slowed momentum.
Cody Kessler, who has been under constant pressure, completed an impressive 17-yard pass to Steven Mitchell Jr.
Tre Madden rushed for 24 yards in three carries.
UCLA 14, USC 10 -- 9:49 left in the second quarter
Thomas Duarte caught a 19-yard pass from Josh Rosen for a UCLA touchdown. Duarte was in tight coverage by Su’a Cravens.
The Coliseum is silent with exception of the UCLA section in the southeast corner. The Bruins drive covered 76 yards in eight plays.
Rosen completed an impressive 27-yard pass to Duarte and a 17-yard pass to Jordan Payton on the drive.
Paul Perkins also rushed for 15 yards in two carries.
Bruins left guard Kenny Lacy hobbled to the sideline with trainers during the drive. It looks very physical out there between both teams.
USC 10, UCLA 7 -- 12:04 left in the second quarter
Cody Kessler rushed for one yard and a USC touchdown to give the Trojans the lead. The drive covered 85 yards in 10 plays.
Kessler completed a 28-yard and 34-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster on the drive.
Ronald Jones II rushed for nine yard in two carries and tight end Taylor McNamara caught a seven-yard pass on third and eight.
Tre Madden converted on fourth and one and Kessler kept the ball two plays later for the sneak.
UCLA defensive lineman Kenny Clark was injured on the fourth down play and was helped to the sideline by the trainers -- that could be a huge loss for the Bruins if he is unable to return.
USC center Khaliel Rodgers hobbled to the sideline in the middle of the drive and Nico Falah took over.
Greg Townsend Jr. stopped Paul Perkins on third down and UCLA punted.
Nate Starks rushed for five yards in consecutive carries.
USC will have the ball on its own 15-yard line.
Cody Kessler has been under pressure and USC punted for a third time.
Ronald Jones II rushed for four yards before Kessler was forced to throw it away and then followed with an incompletion, under pressure, down field to Steven Mitchell Jr.
UCLA 7, USC 3 -- 3:26 left in the first quarter
Paul Perkins slipped between two tacklers and rushed 19 yards for a UCLA touchdown. The drive covered 52 yards in six plays.
The Bruins found a rhythm.
Josh Rosen completed an 11-yard pass to Devin Fuller, Paul Perkins rushed for 13 yards and Rosen rushed for nine yards.
Jim Mora elected to go for it on fourth and one and Perkins slipped between USC’s linebackers to the open field and the end zone.
USC’s drive only traveled seven yards after starting on its own two-yard line.
UCLA will begin its drive at its own 48-yard line.
UCLA punted for a second consecutive series.
The Bruins started at their own 34-yard line after Jabari Ruffin was called for a facemask penalty on special teams.
After a couple of Paul Perkins carries, Josh Rosen completed a 16-yard pass to Darren Andrews on third down before the drive stalled on a big play by Delvon Simmons.
After a terrific punt, USC will start at its own two-yard line
USC 3, UCLA 0 -- 7:54 left in the first quarter
After a quick three and out passing on its first drive, USC went to the run. Kicker Alex Wood made a 30-yard field goal on a drive that covered 59 yards in 12 plays.
Freshman Ronald Jones II rushed for 27 yards in four consecutive carries to start the drive and USC continued to hand the ball off to Dominic Davis and Justin Davis, who found little resistance up the middle.
Tre Madden, who has been sidelined because of a knee injury, caught a six-yard pass out of the backfield.
Jones was stopped short of a first down on third and six at UCLA’s 14-yard line.
Center Khaliel Rodgers went to the sideline for several plays and Nico Falah took over at center before Rodgers eventually returned.
UCLA’s first series looked as bad as USC’s.
Paul Perkins caught a first-down pass and then Josh Rosen threw two incompletions.
The Bruins punted.
UCLA’s defense forced USC to three-and-out in its first series.
Tailback Justin Davis was tackled for a loss and Cody Kessler threw incomplete passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Steven Mitchell Jr.
Not the start USC wanted.
Slash, the guitarist from Guns ‘N Roses, joined the USC marching band to perform the National Anthem.
Seniors, and a few fourth-year juniors, are being recognized prior to kickoff for their final game in the Coliseum.
UCLA offensive lineman Conor McDermott, who injured his knee last week, is warming up.
USC kicker Alex Wood was sidelined last week at Oregon because of concussion protocol. He sat out most of the week but is on the field warming up and its appears he will play.
USC offensive lineman Nico Falah took early warm ups to snap. He might have to play center because of Khaliel Rodgers’ shoulder injury -- Falah would be a fourth-team center. (Max Tuerk and Toa Lobendahn each suffered season-ending injuries).
2016 receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, who signed a financial-aid agreement with USC this week, is on an official visit.
And I’m told, as it usually goes for the rivalry game, USC did not have enough tickets for every recruited who wanted to attend the game.
It’s a crisp, clear morning at the Coliseum as we get ready for USC and UCLA to kick off at 12:30.
The winner earns the Pac-12 South Division title and a trip to the conference championship game next week.
UCLA is 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the Pac-12 Conference. USC is 7-4 and 5-3.
The Bruins have defeated USC for three consecutive seasons and Coach Jim Mora will try to make it four in a row against a fourth Trojans coach.
The Times college football crew is here and our pregame predictions are ready.
Bill Plaschke: 24-21, USC
Chris Dufresne: 35-24, USC
Chris Foster: 35-21, UCLA
Gary Klein: 32-31, USC
Lindsey Thiry: 32-28, UCLA
Mike Hiserman: 37-27, UCLA