If UCLA (4-6, 2-5 Pac 12) plays up to their potential and for the first time this season, play a complete football game, they can beat arch rival USC (7-3, 6-2 Pac 12).
Beating SC will be a tall order, as the Trojans have won six games in a row, including at the time, a No. 4 rated Washington Husky team and are playing some of the best college football in the nation. Not many teams would look forward playing USC right now, yet the Bruins could still win this football game.
The Trojans turned their season around when they named redshirt freshman Sam Darnold (6-4, 225) starting quarterback. With Darnold as starting quarterback the Trojans are 6-1 and his only loss as a starter was on the road against AP ranked No. 11, Utah, 31-27.
Darnold is a playmaker who can hurt an opponent with his arm as well as his feet. The Trojan frosh has thrown for 2,161 yards while hitting on 68.1 percent of passes. Darnold has thrown for 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. On the ground, Darnold has rushed for 187 yards and had two rushing touchdowns. He has a quarterback rating of 165.8. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure why the Trojans are on a roll.
The young signal caller has a talented group of receiver in which to throw to. Junior, JuJu Smith-Schuster (6-2, 220) leads the Trojans with 51 receptions, 682 receiving yards, eight receiving touchdowns and in average per catch (13.4).
Senior Darreaus Rogers (6-1, 215) is second on the team with 44 receptions, 571 yards and three touchdowns, while averaging 13.0 yards per catch.
Also keep an eye on sophomore, Deontay Burnett (6-0, 170), who has 35 catches, 396 yards and four touchdowns, while averaging 11.3 yards per catch.
Unlike the Bruins, the Trojans can run the ball down your throat. USC will run three very talented backs at you. Sophomore Ronald Jones II (6-1, 190) leads the Trojans in rushing with 772 yards. He averages 6.3 yards per carry and has scored eight rushing touchdowns.
Senior, Justin Davis (6-1, 200) has rushed for 480 yards, has scored two touchdowns and averages 6.1 yards per carry. Sophomore Aca’Cedric Ware (6-0, 195) has run for 366 yards, two touchdowns and averages 5.2 yards per carry.
USC’s offense is going to be quite a challenge for the UCLA’s defense. If the Bruins are able to make Darnold uncomfortable, and play the run, the way they have done for most of the season, then the Bruin D will keep the game close and give the team a chance to win.
UCLA-USC is a special rivalry and there is a history of the unexpected happening in this game. Will Bruin fifth-year quarterback Mike Fafaul become another UCLA backup quarterback that becomes legendary in Bruin lore as Norm Dow did in 1966, John Barnes in 1992 and Pat Cowan in 2006?
The history is there. The Bruins need to win this game if they are going to partake in the post season. A loss will not only lose the city championship, but will more than likely end their bowl hopes.
The Bruins and the Trojans have played each other 83 times with USC leading the series with 45 wins, 31 losses and seven ties. The Trojans will enter this game knowing that they beat the Bruins last season 38-20 ending UCLA’s three game winning streak.
This is a huge game for UCLA, a win against USC will take some of the sting out of a very disappointing season that once held a lot of promise and they will continue their quest for the post season.
The game is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30PM PST and will be televised by ESPN. Steve Levy will handle the play-by-play, Brian Griese will analyze the action and Todd McShay will be on the sideline.
Bruin IMG radio network (AM 1150) will broadcast the contest with Josh Lewin doing play-by-play, Matt Stevens in the analyst chair and Wayne Cook on the sideline.
SIRIUS 81/XM 81/WEB 81 will also carry the game.