No. 7 USC outlasts No. 16 UCLA 48-45 behind epic performance from QB Caleb Williams

Caleb Williams and the USC offense just could not be stopped.

Williams turned in an epic performance on Saturday night, outdueling Dorian Thompson-Robinson in a high-flying 48-45 victory over UCLA at the Rose Bowl.

Williams, one of the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy, threw for 470 yards and two touchdowns while adding 32 yards and a score on the ground in the win. Williams was the best player on the field and his starring effort paved the way for a berth in the Pac-12 championship game for the Trojans.

USC, now 10-1 in just its first season under Lincoln Riley, is also alive and well for the College Football Playoff.

And against all odds, it took a defensive stop to seal the victory.

USC had a 48-38 lead with 9:10 to go, but that lead quickly shrunk to 48-45 with 6:38 remaining. From there, it looked like the USC offense would be able to add to the lead yet again while eating up much of the remaining clock.

Instead, USC’s offense stalled near midfield and punted for the first time all night, giving Thompson-Robinson and the Bruins another shot with 2:21 to play.

Thompson-Robinson, a fifth-year senior, quickly picked up a first down and had the Bruins on the move. That’s when the much-maligned USC defense made a play. Korey Foreman, a defensive end, dropped into coverage and intercepted Thompson-Robinson at midfield.

Thompson-Robinson put on an incredibly gutsy performance with 309 passing yards, 75 rushing yards and six total touchdowns, but that turnover allowed the Trojans to run out the clock and seal the victory. It was the third interception of the game and the fourth turnover overall for Thompson-Robinson, who also lost a fumble.

Ultimately, that third and final interception doomed UCLA’s Pac-12 title hopes and allowed the Trojans to move one step closer to a berth in the four-team playoff.