Michael Castillo: USC wins 42-31
On the surface, the Trojans and Bruins matchup very well. Look a little deeper and there’s mismatches to be found on both sides. For the Trojans, they get to pit the nation’s most prolific receiver against a pass defense that is 105th in the country, while their fourth ranked pass rush goes against a UCLA squad that is 112th in protecting the quarterback. For the Bruins, they can run the ball with their sixth ranked running back against a defense that gave up just under two million yards to Oregon, and the third rank pass rush against a quarterback who has crumbled at times under pressure. So both sides have arguments. At the end of the day though, I don’t think it can be overstated how important a big advantage on the defensive line is for a defense. UCLA may have one more sack that USC, but the Bruins have had significant struggles keeping Brett Hundley upright and the Trojans are giving up less than three fewer sacks per game against like-opponents. Plus, considering that USC beat an ASU team with a very similar style offense a week ago by totaling seven sacks, it’s too hard to pick against SC. Plus, the Bruins’ secondary is a perfect storm for a big game from Robert Woods. Marqise Lee requires a big-time game plan and with how poor Sheldon Price and Aaron Abbott have for UCLA, a plan to double or triple up on Lee could create gaping holes for Woods as was the case last year for Lee vs. UCLA. So even if Barkley struggles at times, with how potent the Trojans are, it might not take long to answer. Trojans big, but the Bruins will score to keep it closer on the scoreboard.
Trenise Ferreira: USC wins 38-24
In the impending turf war between
the bloods and the crips USC and UCLA, there is a lot at stake for both teams. For UCLA, epic bragging rights and the thrill of knowing that for the first time in a decade they are better than USC, and for the first time in history, they actually earned the right to play in the Pac-12 title. For USC, an extension of their five-game winning string against the Bruins, a chance to upset Oregon the second time around in the Pac-12 title game, and a way to end their season on a high note. There is a lot of talk surrounding this game that the Bruins will actually challenge the Trojans, but that might be more hype than talk. The Bruins are abysmal against the pass, suggesting that they will struggle immensely against Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee, Robert Woods, and Nelson Agholor. Not only that, but the Bruins don’t exactly have the best O-line, and if USC’s D-line brings it on Saturday, they are going to make Bruins quarterback Brett Huntley taste dirt, and taste it often. On the flip side, USC’s defense hasn’t been playing spectacularly of recent, and Johnathan Franklin, coupled with the fact that Huntley can run it himself as well as he can throw it, could really be a headache for the defense. If the Trojans don’t contain him, they will allow UCLA to hang around in this game, something we have often seen SC do with opponents this season. In the end though, the superior talent that USC has will prevail, and Lane Kiffin won’t have to worry about possibly losing his job until after Thanksgiving.