Maya Dondonyan | Daily TrojanThe Trojans are headed to the Pac-12 championship game after stringing together 20 unanswered points to defeat crosstown rival UCLA for the first time in four years, 40-21, in front of 80,000-plus fans at the Coliseum on Saturday.“I think about the seniors and the roller coaster ride they have gone through, for them to be able to call themselves Pac-12 South champions is a victory,” interim head coach Clay Helton said.USC (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12) physically dominated UCLA (8-4, 5-4) in the trenches, running the ball an astounding 59 times for 235 yards rushing yards. Junior running back Justin Davis anchored the Trojans rushing attack, carrying the ball 25 times for 130 yards. Ronald Jones II also surpassed Charles White to become the leading freshman rusher in USC history.“The run game was going to be a huge part of trying to establish ourselves as a physical football team and we exhibited that today,” Helton said.The Trojans victory over the No. 22-ranked Bruins not only brought back the Victory Bell to USC’s campus in the 85th edition of their crosstown rivalry, but also clinched the Pac-12 South title to earn them a trip to Santa Clara to play Stanford in the conference championship next Saturday at Levi’s Stadium.Playing in his last game at home, redshirt senior quarterback Cody Kessler threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns, including a seven-yard strike to redshirt junior tight end Taylor McNamara to give the Trojans a three-possession lead late in the game. The three-year starter also snuck one into the end zone on the ground early in the second quarter on his way to leading the Trojans past UCLA for the first time of his USC career.“I was trying to hold it all in, but I lost it back there, trying to hold back the tears” Kessler said after the game. “It’s the way you want to go out.”The two rivals went back and forth for the majority of the first half before sophomore Adoree’ Jackson returned a punt for a touchdown for the second consecutive game, taking one back 42 yards to put USC up 20-14 before the half.After enduring a number of drives that ultimately resulted in three-and-outs, UCLA’s true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen was finally able to lead the the Bruins’ offense down the field and reclaim the lead in the third quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by redshirt junior tail back Paul Perkins, who had two scores in the game.Nick Entin | Daily TrojanThe tides would turn, though, after redshirt senior defensive end Claude Pelon sacked Rosen and forced him to fumble, which would be recovered by defensive lineman Rasheem Green and returned 31 yards for a score. With the touchdown, Green became the sixth true freshman USC player to record a touchdown this season. It also put USC up for good.On UCLA’s next drive, freshman Iman Marshall picked off Rosen for the first of the cornerback’s two interceptions of the day.“I just did my job,” Marshall said. “I understood I made a lot of mistakes last week and made sure I prepared myself this week.”In his first rivalry game at the Coliseum, Rosen threw for 227 yards and a touchdown and had his 245 pass streak without an interception broken, courtesy of former five-star recruit in Marshall. His lone touchdown came on a 19-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Duarte.The USC offense made the Bruins pay following the pick, as junior wide receiver Darreus Rodgers climbed the ladder and stretched for the end zone to complete a 20-yard touchdown connection from Kessler.Nick Entin | Daily TrojanAside from Jackson’s punt return touchdown, the Trojans’ special teams unit contributed via two first-half field goals by redshirt junior kicker Alex Wood.The Trojans racked up 410 total yards of offense during the game, while controlling the time-of-possession game, holding possession for just over 40 minutes and doubling UCLA’s time with the football. It was the sixth time this season that USC had more time of possession than its opponent, all coming under Helton.USC improved to 5-2 under interim head coach Clay Helton, who continues to build his resume for consideration as the program’s permanent head coach.“Coach Helton is one of those guys that you do anything for,” Kessler said. “I am so proud of this team. We could not have done it without Coach Helton.”Next Saturday’s Pac-12 Championship game against the No.13-ranked Cardinal is scheduled to kick off at either 4:45 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. It will be USC’s chance at redemption after Stanford handed USC its first loss of the season, 41-31, at the Coliseum in September.“Last week we lost, but God bless us with another opportunity to play for the Rose Bowl,” Jackson said.A win against the Cardinal would send the Trojans to their first Rose Bowl since 2009.
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Kluber’s win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.Scherzer yelled “yes!” when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding – also with expletives – that Manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.Scherzer’s win moves him into rare company. He’s the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw, Roger Clemens and Roy Halladay aren’t in the Hall of Fame – Kershaw and Halladay aren’t yet eligible. Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.Two aces, two different styles – and now another Cy Young Award for each.The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.“This one is special,” he said. “When you start talking about winning three times, I can’t even comprehend it at this point.”Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty led the NL in strikeouts (268) and WHIP (0.90) in 200-2/3 innings. He ranked second in ERA and fourth in wins and his +7.3 WAR was second among all pitchers, trailing only Kluber. In an era noted for declining pitcher durability, Scherzer eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington’s training staff was high on his thank-you list.Kershaw, the last pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Youngs (2013-14), got the other three first-place votes as well as 25 second-place votes to finish second overall. Scherzer’s Nationals teammate, Stephen Strasburg, finished third.For Kershaw, it was his second runner-up (2012) and the seventh consecutive year he finished in the top five, the longest such streak since Greg Maddux did the same from 1992-98.Though Kershaw is nearly universally regarded as the top pitcher of his generation, back injuries have sidelined him for significant stretches the past two seasons, opening the door for Scherzer to stake his claim as the NL’s No. 1 starter.Kershaw was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA. He won the most games in the NL and finished second in WHIP (0.95) while striking out 202 in 175 innings. It was that last figure that likely cost him this time around.Kershaw sat out five weeks while recovering from a back strain and threw 175 innings, 25 fewer than Scherzer, who missed two starts with a neck injury.When healthy, Kershaw was his usual magnificent self, adding a fifth ERA title to his sparkling resume and also leading the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 6.73 as he helped the Dodgers compile the best record in baseball.In addition to WHIP, strikeouts and innings, Scherzer outpaced Kershaw in strikeouts per nine innings, batting average against and OPS against.Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen finished fifth overall with two third-place votes, five fourth-place votes and six fifth-place votes. Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood received one fifth-place vote.Wednesday’s news is likely only the second most exciting development for Scherzer this offseason. He and his wife are expecting their first child, a girl to be named Brooke, in about a week.“We’re really pumped,” Scherzer said on the MLB Network broadcast. “We were actually thinking we might have to be in the hospital tonight. I’m glad we’re not.’’Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota’s Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games – nobody else had more than two.Ballots from two writers in each league city prior to postseason play are tabulated on a system that awards seven points for first place, four points for second place, three points for third place, two votes for fourth place and one point for fifth place. Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.The final BBWAA honors are Thursday when the AL and NL MVP awards are announced.Staff writer Bill Plunkett contributed to this story.