USC vs. UCLA 2013 Gameday Preview: Line Ups and Links


Nov 16, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of Southern California Trojans players entering the field through the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum tunnel before the game against the Stanford Cardinal. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA Bruins vs. USC Trojans

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum | Los Angeles, California

5:00 PM Pacific | ABC

All-Time Series: 44-29-7

Last Meeting: USC 28, UCLA 38 in 2012

The Victory Bell and plenty more is on the line tonight as the men of Troy gear up to battle the Bruins of UCLA in the Coliseum. Ed Orgeron’s Trojans enter the final tilt of the regular season on a hot streak. Winning five straight since a tough loss at Notre Dame in mid-October, USC has yet to drop a conference game with Orgeron in charge. However, the strong run wasn’t enough to overcome two early conference losses and no matter what happens the Trojans will not win the Pac-12 South and will once again miss out on an appearance in the conference championship game.

That’s not to say USC has nothing to play for. Given UCLA’s win last season at the Rose Bowl, the Trojans have eagerly awaited a chance for revenge on their own home turf. Perhaps even greater incentive, there is a good chance the result of this game will reverberate well into the future — a win may be enough to secure Orgeron’s place in the running for head coach next season.

For the Bruins, the name of the game is recovery. After last week’s loss the Arizona State, UCLA was also knocked out of the running for the South title. In a season that started out with high expectations and saw the Bruins ranked as high as eighth in the national rankings, an otherwise decent year would be considered a relative failure with a loss to USC. Beating the Trojans would mean securing two straight victories in what has been a lopsided rivalry this century. It would also give UCLA much needed momentum going into bowl and recruiting season.

Gameday Links:

When UCLA has the ball…

Let’s get it out of the way quickly, Myles Jack is an impressive football player. The UCLA linebacker has come in at running back in the past three games and rushed for 265 yards and six touchdowns. However, since his first outing with an astonishing 120 yards on six carries, Jack has come back to earth a bit. Granted, coming back to earth still equals averaging about five yards a carry. Of course, the impressiveness of his six touchdowns is a bit inflated — outside of his first 66-yarder, only one has come from more than three yards out and that was from eight.

Outside of Jack, the Bruins running game could receive a boost with the potential returns of Jordan James, Damien Thigpen, and Malcolm Jones. James was the starter coming into the season.

As he has been all season, Brett Hundley will be the key. His passer rating is second best in the conference at 155.6. However in enemy territory his play has been less than spectacular, with six interceptions to eight touchdowns on the road. He’ll be helped by the return of Devon Fuller, a playmaker in the receiving corp who missed last week with a hamstring.

For USC’s defense, the emphasis will be on keeping to their strengths. With a run defense that shut down the top rusher in the nation (Boston College’s Andre Williams) and held the second top rusher (Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey) without a score, the Trojans just need to continue the trend and stay disciplined to take Jack and the other Bruin rushers out of the equation.

Hundley is scrambling threat, so the elite pass rush possessed by USC will need to be deployed with controlled aggression. Devon Kennard and company need to hit Hundley to rattle him, but they also need to keep him contained.

UCLA Starting Offense:

WR #9 Jordan PaytonLT #56 Xavier Su’a-FiloLG #52 Scott QuessenberryC #54 Jake BrendelRG #51 Alex RedmondRT #74 Caleb BenenochWR #7 Devin FullerQB #17 Brett HundleyFB #32 Nate IeseTB #6 Jordon JamesWR #1 Shaq Evans

USC Starting Defense:

OLB #42 Devon KennardDE #94 Leonard WilliamsNT #99 Antwaun WoodsDE #90 George UkoOLB #58 J.R. Tavai .MLB #10 Hayes PullardWLB #56 Anthony SaraoCB #6 Josh ShawFS #24 Demetrius WrightSS #21 Su’a CravensCB #13 Kevon Seymour

When USC has the ball…

For the first time in a long time, USC comes into a game with a mostly healthy offense. Tre Madden’s return at running back will give the Trojans another weapon to throw at what is fairly vulnerable rushing defense. Madden’s dual-ability as a reliable work horse and big play threat should pair dangerously with Buck Allen’s explosiveness. However, USC won’t want take away too many carries from Allen, who has scored nine touchdowns in four games since coming into the featured role. Finding a balance between the two will be key as the game goes on.

Marqise Lee will also be healthy for this game after missing last week. The impact of his presence is obvious. For Cody Kessler though, having an extra playmaker to get the ball doesn’t change his mode of operation. After throwing four interceptions in the opening month of the season, Kessler has thrown one in each month since. He has also steadily come into his own as a game manager, doing the right things to extend drives on third downs while mostly avoiding the key mistakes that hurt USC early. It is important he continues that trend against a UCLA passing defense that doesn’t force too many interceptions, but does enough to limit yards and touchdowns.

On defense, the Bruins will hope that Anthony Barr, who is second in the conference in tackles for loss, can exploit a fairly unimpressive USC offensive front to keep the Trojan offense out of rhythm.

USC Starting Offense:

WR #15 Nelson AgholorWR #9 Marqise LeeLT #72 Chad WheelerLG #75 Max TuerkC #66 Marcus MartinRG #70 Aundrey WalkerRT #77 Kevin GrafTE #86 Xavier Grimbleor #82 Randall TelferQB #6 Cody KesslerFB #38 Jahleel Pinneror #31 Soma VainukuTB #37 Javorius Allen

UCLA Starting Defense:

LDE #90 Ellis McCarthyNT #98 Seali’i EpenesaRDE #99 Cassius MarshLOLB #30 Myles JackILB #35 Jordan ZumwaltILB #6 Eric KendricksROLB #11 Anthony BarrCB #10 Fabian MoreauS #23 Anthony JeffersonS #3 Randall GoforthCB #24 Ishmael Adams