USC vs. UCLA score, takeaways: Clay Helton's seat heats up after Trojans fall to the Bruins



UCLA topped cross-town rival USC 34-27 Saturday afternoon at the Rose Bowl to notch the biggest win of the Chip Kelly era and crank up the heat on Trojans coach Clay Helton's seat even more than it was coming in.

Bruins running back Joshua Kelly rushed 40 times for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Theo Howard had five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown and the defense held USC to just 4-of-13 on third downs to earn the third win of the season for Kelly's squad. Trojans quarterback JT Daniels threw two touchdowns and two interceptions in a losing effort.

What did we learn about both teams?

1. Clay Helton's job is in serious jeopardy: The third-year coach of the Trojans has come under fire this year despite earning New Year's Six bowl berths in each of his first two seasons as the full-time coach. It's for good reason, too. The loss to cross-town rival UCLA secures the program's first six-loss regular season since 2000 – Paul Hackett's final season as coach. Pete Carroll went 6-6 in his first season in 2001, but that final loss came in the Las Vegas Bowl.

USC should never be in this kind of situation. Sure, Daniels is a true freshman quarterback and the team has been riddled by injuries. But the talent that has been amassed by Helton and former coach Steve Sarkisian should, at the very least, be good enough to compete in the Pac-12 South.

The wheels of the coaching silly season are already in motion. With the early national signing period approaching on Dec. 19, Helton might not have the big desk in the football facility much longer. After all, UCLA is still in full-on rebuild mode and undefeated Notre Dame is looming next week.

2. Kelly has things on the right track: This is not the season that UCLA fans envisioned when they made the biggest splash last offseason by hiring Kelly, but it appears to be ending on a high note. Slowly but surely, the players have bought into Kelly's style and system, Kelly has figured out how to make it work and together have set the tone for the future of the program.

The resume is not exactly a thing of beauty. But a dominating 37-7 win at Cal is a big deal, the win over Arizona was wild and serving as the fuel additive to the downfall of your bitter rival is a strong way to end the year on a high note.

It's still going to take time. UCLA's offensive line has been an issue all year, injuries were tough to overcome and Kelly needs multiple recruiting classes to build this the way he wants. It did not look possible during the first half of the season, but the future is bright.

3. Joshua Kelly is a star: The 5-foot-11, 204-pound junior was benched prior to the Fresno State game in Week 3 by his coach, but has come back with a vengeance. He has topped the 100-yard mark in six of the last eight games, and notched 30 or more carries three times during that span.

Chip Kelly mentioned in his postgame interview that, instead of moping after the setback early in the season, he stayed positive, worked harder than anybody on the team and earned the type of performance he had Saturday afternoon.

If he sticks around, look out. Chip Kelly now knows that he has a work horse to build his offense around. Joshua Kelly's presence, combined with time for the staff to build around him, will make UCLA dangerous in 2019.


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