USC Jumps Into Top 5 Of A.P. Poll For 1st Time In 5 Years After Thrilling Win Over UCLA

USC quarterback Caleb Williams may have put the Trojans into the College Football Playoff and won the Heisman Trophy on the same Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It was a night he won’t soon forget.

Williams gained more total yards (502) than any player in the history of the USC-UCLA series that started in 1929, leading the No. 7 Trojans over the No. 16 Bruins, 48-45. UCLA had led 14-0 in the first quarter.

A sophomore from Washington D.C., Williams completed 32 of 43 passes for a career-high 470 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed eight times for 32 yards and another touchdown.

“I don’t really care about that,” he said on FOX when asked about the Heisman Trophy, for which he and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud are the front runners. “I love this team. I love these guys.”

USC quarterback Caleb Williams’s 502 total yards in the Trojans 48-45 win over UCLA Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was the most by a player in the history of the series. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Trojans (10-1, 8-1 Pac-12) moved up two spots to No. 5 in the Associated Press poll released on Sunday afternoon. USC has not been in the top five of the A.P. poll since it was ranked No. 4 in the preseason poll of 2017.

USC Should Replace Tennessee in CFP Rankings

USC will likely move up to No. 5 from No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPN). This is because unranked and three-touchdown underdog South Carolina destroyed No. 5 Tennessee, 63-38, in a stunning upset Saturday night.

Tennessee (9-2) fell to No. 9 in the A.P. poll from No. 5 after allowing the most points by a top five team to an unranked foe in the history of the poll, which began in 1936.

A top three team will then fall this Saturday as No. 2 Ohio State (11-0) hosts No. 3 Michigan (11-0) at noon on FOX. The top four remained the same in the A.P. poll with Georgia (11-0) maintaining the top spot, followed by Ohio State, Michigan and TCU (11-0).

USC Clinches Appearance In Pac-12 Championship Game

With the win, USC clinched a spot in the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 2 in Las Vegas (8 p.m., FOX) against an opponent still to be determined. The Trojans play No. 18 Notre Dame (8-3) Saturday (7:30 p.m., ABC) to end the regular season. Notre Dame is No. 13 in the A.P. poll.

UCLA (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) fell to No. 17 in the A.P. poll. The Bruins play California (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) on Saturday (4:30 p.m., FOX).

The rest of the top 10 in the A.P. poll was No. 6 LSU (9-2), No. 7 Clemson (10-1), No. 8 Alabama (9-2) and No. 10 Oregon (9-2), which beat No. 10 Utah, 20-17, in a late game Saturday.

The second 10 had No. 11 Penn State (9-2), No. 12 Washington (9-2), No. 14 Utah (8-3), No. 15 Kansas State (8-3), No. 16 Florida State (8-3), No. 18 North Carolina (9-2) from No. 13 after a 21-17 loss to Georgia Tech Saturday, No. 19 Tulane (9-2) and No. 20 Ole Miss (8-3), which suffered the other major upset loss in the SEC.

USC Trailed Until The Third Quarter

Williams’ 35-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Addison midway through the third quarter gave USC its first lead of the game at 27-24. His 16-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Ford put the Trojans ahead 41-31 early in the fourth quarter.

“We fought. We kept fighting,” Williams said. “We were down. We kept fighting. And that’s all it comes down to.”

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson played as spectacularly as Williams, completing 23 of 38 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns, but with three interceptions. He rushed for another 75 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns. His 30-yard TD pass to Michael Ezeike put the Bruins up 14-0 late in the first quarter.

Thompson-Robinson’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Kazmeier Allen cut USC’s lead to 41-38 early in the fourth quarter.

Classic Offensive Showcase Came Down To Defense

The 1,162 yards of offense and 93 points finally stopped with a defensive play. USC defensive back Korey Foreman sealed the win with an interception near midfield on a third-and-five pass from Thompson-Robinson with 1:26 to go.

“I’m going to be honest, they had a lot ot say all week,” Williams said. “We blocked it out. They had a lot to say today. We blocked it out. We did our job. We kept fighting. We kept on punching.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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