Looking Ahead to UCLA


“You say timeout? We say touchdown.”

ESPN Pac-10 Blogger Ted Miller: 

"What to watch for: Brehaut through the air: Just who is UCLA QB Richard Brehaut? Is he a guy who can throw for 321 yards, as he did in the Bruins’ loss last week at Arizona State? Or is he the guy who seemed unable to establish a consistent rhythm in the passing game, as he did in most of his other starts since taking over for Kevin Prince? We don’t yet know. What we do know is USC has surrendered a lot of passing yards this year — the most in the Pac-10, in fact. And the Trojans rank eighth in the conference in pass efficiency defense. While many of the questions heading into the USC-UCLA game are about the health of Trojans QB Matt Barkley (ankle), the bigger question in the game is whether the Bruins will be able to muster offensive balance and challenge a suspect pass defense. Quick Preview: USC (7-5, 4-4) at UCLA (4-7, 2-6), 10:30 p.m., FSN: Boy, how about that college football in LA! Lots of frowny faces! Neither team is going to a bowl game and neither is happy. But the winner will be far less unhappy heading into the offseason. Predictions: USC 27, UCLA 20: Remember how everyone called the Oregon game USC’s bowl game? This one feels more like the Trojans bowl game — hey, it’s in the Rose Bowl, after all — which is why, even if Matt Barkley isn’t ready to go or isn’t 100 percent if he is, USC should prevail: It will be focused and motivated."

Over the past two seasons, many streaks at USC have been snapped. Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame was the first regular season non-conference loss for USC since September 21, 2002.

The USC-UCLA game in 2010 won’t be remembered for how great of a matchup it is. The Trojans are 7-5, in the midst of their worst season since 2001. By the same token, Rick Neuheisel’s bunch is just 2-6 in Pac-10 play so far. Things aren’t pretty in the Los Angeles football scene.

The Los Angeles Times: 

With Mitch Mustain as the signal caller against Notre Dame, Lane Kiffin utilized a conservative game plan and the offense struggled. Matt Barkley will likely be healthy enough to play Saturday, but his status is still in doubt.

In 2006, UCLA derailed USC’s shot at a national title with a 13-9 shocking upset. However, the Sons of Westwood haven’t been able to parlay that win into a series of successful seasons.

Although the pass was slightly behind him, Ronald Johnson should have caught what would have been a touchdown pass to give USC a late lead. Johnson spent two days lamenting the drop, but he has turned his focus towards redemption in his final collegiate game.

While Lane Kiffin rubbed people the wrong way in the SEC, he contends many Pac-10 coaches are rooting for him against UCLA.

Both teams may not be playing well, but the fact remains that it is a heated rivalry between two universities that share the same city. As Chris Foster and Gary Klein explain, Saturday’s game can still have plenty of meaning.

The Orange County Register:

Lane Kiffin has gotten very conservative the past two weeks. Instead, he should put the pedal to the metal and showcase his aggressive nature.

USC’s depth is even more of an issue this week as many in the secondary are banged up. But Lane Kiffin refuses to burn a redshirt for a player who has sat out all season. The first-year coach is planning for the long term as he tries to guide USC through a rocky period of sanctions.

In an interview after practice yesterday, Lane Kiffin pointed to the lack of running game as the main reason USC’s offense has regressed the past two weeks. Without the balance of a solid running game, defenses can focus on the pass and are less apt to bite on play action.

Rick Neuheisel is in his third season in Westwood, but there hasn’t been much progress to date. Lane Kiffin is somewhat surprised the Bruins aren’t better.

When the NCAA handed down sanctions on USC, it opened the floodgates for upperclassmen to transfer. Despite the possibility, true Trojan Stanley Havili stuck around at the school he loves.

Michael Lev provides a statistical analysis of the offensive drop off the past two weeks.

Junior offensive tackle Tyron Smith is leaning towards coming back, but his stock as a pro prospect continues to rise.