The USC vs UCLA crosstown rivalry has been rather dull the past few seasons, as one of or both teams involved have either been struggling or on the decline at the time of the game. But this year, the stakes are raised. With a PAC12 championship berth on the line and maybe even, for USC, a college football playoff spot on the line, this rivalry is sure to give us plenty of action this Saturday, so let’s preview the matchups and predict who will come out on top.
Starting with UCLA, they have surprised a lot of people this season, even despite their upset loss last week to Arizona. Led by QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, better known as DTR, the Bruins offense has sliced up defenses all season, and will surely still be ranked in the top 20 at the time of the rivalry game. However, all of this comes down to the game vs USC. If the Bruins lose, they will be eliminated from PAC12 championship contention, and their hopes of a big time bowl game may also drop significantly. For UCLA to win, they will need to either stop USC’s highly talented offense, or win a shootout against the Trojans, meaning DTR will have to lead the Bruins to a similar performance as last year, when he led his team to put up 62 points in a blowout win vs the Trojans. But, both of these scenarios are easier said than done, because USC has business to take care of.
Outside of their heartbreaking 1 point loss on a last second 2 point conversion to Utah, Lincoln Riley’s first year coaching USC has been perfect. Led by QB Caleb Williams and WR Jordan Addison, the Trojans rank top 10 in all of college football in just about every statistical offensive category, including their streak of 4 straight games with 40 or more points. As for the defensive side of the ball, it hasn’t been as good for USC. The run defense has been disappointing but they do seem to have built up some momentum over the past couple of weeks. If USC manages to win the game, they will be headed to the PAC12 conference championship game and possibly be just 2 wins away from a college football playoff appearance. However, if USC wants to really make a statement to the CFP committee that they deserve a playoff spot, the defense will need to show up with the offense, and put UCLA to bed early.
With the preview of both teams out of the way, it’s prediction time. While I did say if USC really wanted to make a statement they’d blow the Bruins out, I think UCLA is just too talented for that to happen. However, I do see the Trojans still winning by a score of 48-38 in a game that proves to be an offensive shootout like many expect. No matter how the game goes though, at the end of the day it’s USC vs UCLA with championship aspirations on the line, and it doesn’t get much better than that. Tune into the battle of LA this Saturday at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST on Fox to see all of the action go down.