Preview: UCLA Bruins vs. USC Trojans, Battle For Los Angeles
The up-and-down regular seasons for the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans will culminate Saturday when the rivals clash in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with the city of Los Angeles at stake.
#22 UCLA Bruins (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) at #23 USC Trojans (9-3, 6-2 Pac-12)
Saturday, Nov. 30. 5:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Los Angeles, Calif.
Game-time weather: Mostly sunny, 69 degrees
Wind: 3 mph, WNW
Who to watch for:
UCLA appeared to recapture its momentum in a three-game winning streak against Colorado, Arizona and Washington before falling to Arizona State last Saturday, much thanks in part to freshman linebacker (and now running back) Myles Jack. He has rushed for 265 yards on 35 carries and six touchdowns, 7.5 yards/carry and 88 yards/game.
It includes a four-touchdown performance against Washington, which was the most in a game by a Bruins back since Maurice Jones-Drew scored five against the Huskies in 2004.
He’ll line up against a Trojans defense that can be spread apart, especially if Jack alongside Paul Perkins can manage to find a few holes against a Trojans defense that lacks depth.
Meanwhile for the Trojans, look out for Marqise Lee, who is always dangerous for USC. He has yet to have a break out game this season, but this could be the one as he seeks to solidify his NFL Draft status in what could be his final game at the Coliseum.
He has eclipsed 100 yards just twice (against Hawaii and Oregon State), both games on the road.
Just a reminder, Lee has 382 yards on 22 receptions in two games against the Bruins, good for 17.4 yards/reception.
For those wondering that’s 63.2 percent of what Lee has in the 2013 season.
Why will UCLA win?
The Bruins have played very tough in every game this season, standing up in times of need and injury after losing players like Jordon James and Torian White for pivotal games against Stanford and Oregon.
Their three losses came against teams currently ranked in the top 15 of the country, two of which were back-to-back against top five teams.
That said, UCLA plays a very up-tempo game and will dare USC to keep up. Arizona State completely blitzed USC out of Tempe, gaining 612 yards en route to a 62-41 win. That Sun Devils team has a good balance behind Taylor Kelly and Marion Grice, something UCLA very nearly matched a week ago.
Myles Jack will make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball and carry on the momentum as the Bruins rise to the occasion and fight off the Trojans.
But most importantly, look out for Anthony Barr who will be like a bull seeking his target behind the back of quarterback Cody Kessler. He knocked Matt Barkley to the fourth round of the NFL Draft a year ago and will be looking to continue his ascent up draft boards.
And let’s face it, USC has been impressive against cellar-dwellers California, Colorado and Oregon State, and, it’s still the same team that fell to Washington State 10-7.
Why will USC win?
Oh does USC have a lot to play for. First off, the players obviously are playing hard for interim coach Ed Orgeron to retain the position. After all, Bruins head coach Jim Mora voted for him to be the Pac-12′s Coach of the Year.
USC has won its last seven games against UCLA at the Coliseum, which will be flooded with cardinal and gold.
Most importantly, recruiting can be swayed in a major way with a win for USC tonight. Many major recruits will be in attendance looking to decide where they’ll spend the next four years (presumably) of their lives.
The talent is there for USC to flourish in big ways tonight. Silas Redd and Marqise Lee are both set to play in the contest, but it’s all about Javorius Allen and Tre Madden, the future of Trojans football.
UCLA has a hard time stopping any one featured back, more less the three USC boasts up front.
And let’s face it, Stanford exposes teams, and it exposed all the positives the Trojans have to offer. Meanwhile, the Bruins are capable of falling asleep at any given moment and the Trojans will be salivating at their chance to capitalize.
What will happen?
The Trojans will come out pumped as Pete Carroll’s final class exits in its final game at the Coliseum. But expect the Bruins to get out to a fast start in this one, surprising the Trojans right away.
Special teams has hurt USC this season, and the woes are likely to play a factor in this one, which is going to be entertaining and close.
Do you think USC has forgotten about Barr’s hit on Barkley? No! Brett Hundley is going to feel heat all night and it will cause him to make quick decisions, which may in turn convert into mistakes.
But the Bruins have the winning streak for a reason, and last year’s game wasn’t close, at least not on the field.
While the Trojans will put up a great fight, it will be the Bruins prevailing when all is said an done. The running back trio is going to be a big key for USC, but it’ll meet Barr and Eric Kendricks a few times.
A healthy Bruins team will use this momentum as it heads into the Sun Bowl and with a commitment or two at the close of the ball game.
Ka’imi Fairbairn hits a game-winning field goal as time expires and UCLA wins.
Prediction: UCLA 41, USC 40