The contrast in their exit strategies told the story better than perhaps anything that happened on the Coliseum field Saturday afternoon.
Embattled UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell stared stonily ahead, a phalanx of security officers trailing in his wake as he made his way to the tunnel and the possible end of his tenure with the Bruins.
USC Coach Pete Carroll bounded toward the locker room, a brief stop on his way to another season-ending date for the Trojans in the Rose Bowl.
"We were in command the whole time," a beaming Carroll said without breaking stride.
Eighth-ranked USC's 24-7 victory over the Bruins before 91,553 avenged last year's crushing upset to its cross-town rivals and earned the Trojans a share of their sixth consecutive Pacific 10 Conference title.
"We own L.A. again," said Trojans quarterback John David Booty, one of 23 seniors who played their final game at the Coliseum.
USC improved to 10-2 overall and will learn its New Year's Day opponent when the final Bowl Championship Series standings are released today.
It will be the sixth consecutive BCS bowl game appearance for USC, a destiny that appeared out of reach after losses to Stanford and Oregon. But the Trojans finished the season with a four-game winning streak.
"The last six years, I think is proof in the pudding that that we find a way to come back on top because we have the makeup of a champion," senior defensive end Lawrence Jackson said.
Last year, the Trojans finished the season with a victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl, a consolation prize after UCLA kept them from playing for the national title. The Bruins' 13-9 victory was thought to be a building block for Dorrell, who had 20 starters back.
But injury-plagued UCLA lost three fumbles and also had a pass intercepted against the Trojans to finish 6-6 and 5-4 in the Pac-10.
"We had too many turnovers, and against a team like this, it's catastrophic," said Dorrell, who declined to comment on his future.
USC did not capitalize on every UCLA miscue, but it was not necessary thanks to a defense that Carroll described as perhaps his best at USC. The Trojans manhandled UCLA the same way they dominated Oregon State, California and Arizona State.
USC held UCLA to a season-low 168 yards, sacking Bruins quarterback Patrick Cowan four times for 31 yards in losses and leaving the Bruins with only 12 net rushing yards. UCLA did not convert any of its 11 third-down situations.
"[UCLA] said last year we played without heart," Jackson said. "Theirs was gone after the first series. It didn't feel like much of a fight."
While USC stifled the Bruins, the Trojans amassed 437 yards, 231 on the ground.
"Our-big time players were missing tackles," Bruins defensive end Bruce Davis said. "As much as I'd like to think that I'm Superman and that we're invincible, we're not. We're human. We bleed the same blood everyone else bleeds. We breathe the same air. We make mistakes."
Said UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker: "They could have put 55 points on us today. I was happy they didn't run the score up. . . . If they would have cashed in [the turnovers] it would have been an ugly game."
It was Walker who had devised the strategy that flummoxed the Trojans last season. And USC had spent 12 long months being reminded of their 55-yard rushing performance against the Bruins.
USC 24, UCLA 7
Trojans going to Pasadena after all
They get revenge for last year's upset, will play in Rose Bowl for the third year in a row. USC amasses 437 yards, 231 rushing, while holding UCLA to a season-low 168 yards.
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