College Football Crosstown Rivals Collide at the Coliseum: #22 UCLA Bruins at #23 USC Trojans

#22 UCLA Bruins at #23 Southern California Trojans
Los Angeles Coliseum – Los Angeles, California 

Saturday, November 30, 2013, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Opening Line: USC -3 1/2
Current Line: USC -3 1/2
Opening Total: 51
Current Total: 52 1/2
Opening Money Line: USC -170 / UCLA +145
Current Money Line: USC -170 / UCLA +145

USC is a 3.5 point favorite against crosstown rival UCLA Saturday night.
USC is a 3.5 point favorite against crosstown rival UCLA Saturday night.

While neither the USC Trojans nor UCLA Bruins will be playing for the Pac 12 Championship this season, there is still a lot on the line as the two teams renew their crosstown rivalry Saturday in the Coliseum. The 9-3 USC Trojans can clinch a 10 win season which was almost unthinkable after a 3-2 start led to the midseason firing of coach Lane Kiffin. Since then, interim coach Ed Orgeron has led the Trojans to a 6-1 record, including 5 straight wins. USC is 6-2 in the Pac 12 South and can clinch a share of the division title with a win and an Arizona State loss to Arizona. However, the Sun Devils hold the tie breaker by virtue of their win over the Trojans in Kiffin’s last game as coach. The 8-3 Bruins are  5-3 in the Pac 12 and can move to a higher profile bowl game with a win.

This is the 83rd meeting the schools in a series that dates back to 1929. USC leads the series 46-29-7, but two wins in 2004 and 2005 were vacated by NCAA sanctions. The Trojans are 39-20-7 in the Coliseum against the Bruins.  UCLA won last year in the Rose Bowl 38-28 to clinch their second straight trip to the pac 12 Championship game. The UCLA win snapped a 5 game winning streak for the Trojans. The two teams play for the Victory Bell.

UCLA is coached by Jim Mora, Jr. The Bruins have losses at Stanford 24-10 and at home against Oregon 42-14 and last week against Arizona State 38-33. UCLA has home wins over Nevada 58-20, New Mexico State 59-13, California 37-10, Colorado 45-23 and Washington 41-21, along with road wins at Nebraska 41-21, Utah 34-27 and at Arizona 31-26. The ASU loss snapped a 3 game winning streak for UCLA. The Bruins are 7-4 ATS this season and the total is 5-6 this season. UCLA was a 3 point favorite against Arizona State last week and the total was 61.5.

Arizona State took a 14-10 lead against UCLA in the first quarter, The Sun Devils would expand the lead to 35-13 by halftime. The Bruins scored two touchdowns to open the third quarter to pull within 35-27. ASU added a field goal before the end of the quarter to make it 38-33. UCLA scored early in the fourth to pull within 38-33, but missed the two point conversion. UCLA would have two more possessions after that but missed a 38 yard field goal (the second of the day for the Bruins) and turned the ball over on downs at their own 46 on their last chance. ASU held on for the win to clinch the Pac 12 South Division. The Sun Devils had 448 total yards including 225 rushing yards. UCLA had 404 total yards including 151 rushing yards. Each team had a turnover, but Arizona State scored on an 18 yard pick six. The Bruins had 6 penalties for 45 yards.

UCLA took a 20-7 lead in the first quarter against Washington last Friday night, but the Bruins missed an extra point. The Bruins expanded the lead to 27-7 early in the second. Washington then scored 17 straight points to pull within 27-24 early in the third. UCLA also scored a touchdown in the third to make it 24-24 going into the fourth. The teams also exchanged touchdowns  in the fourth to make it 41-31 Bruins with 8:01 left in the fourth. The Huskies would have three more drives but two of them ended in interceptions. UCLA had 406 total yards including 222 rushing yards. Washington had 432 total yards including  330 passing yards. The two teams combined for 19 penalties for 209 yards. The Huskies had four turnovers and the Bruins had two.

UCLA is outscoring teams 37-25. The Bruins are #25 in scoring and #50 in points allowed nationally. UCLA is averaging 452.9 yards per game including 255.5 passing and 197.4 rushing. The Bruins are #38 or better nationally in all three categories. On defense, UCLA is allowing 398.5 yards per game including 225.4 passing and 173.2 rushing. UCLA is +7 in turnovers with 22 takeaways. The Bruins average 76 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 55. UCLA is 87/175 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 70/186. The Bruins have forced 23 sacks and allowed 32 this season. UCLA is 47/54 with 38 touchdowns and opponents are 36/44 with 27 touchdowns. The Bruins have a punt return for a touchdown and have allowed 2 pick sixes.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has completed 67.9% of his passes for 2,637 yards with 22 touchdowns and 9  interceptions, along with 137 carries for 507 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. He also caught a touchdown pass. Running back Paul Perkins has 120 carries 536 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 20 catches for 207 yards.  Jordan James has 80 carries for 471 yards with 5 touchdowns. He is questionable Saturday with an ankle injury after missing the last three games and six of the last seven.  Linebacker Myles Jack has 35 carries for 265 yards and 6 touchdowns. Malcolm Jones has 48 carries, 238 yards and 3 carries, along with 3 catches, 51 yards and a touchdown.  Steven Manfro has 18 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown, along with 7 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with an ankle injury.

Receiver Shaquelle Evans has 42 catches, 604 yards and 8 touchdowns. Devin Fuller has 40 catches, 453 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with a touchdown pass to Hundley. Jordan Payton has 31 catches, 382 yards, and a touchdown. Devin Lucien has 14 catches for 258 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Thomas Duarte has 15 catches for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns. Four defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.

USC has a home loss to Washington  State 10-7, and road losses at Arizona State 62-41 and at Notre Dame 14-10. USC has home wins over Boston College 35-7, Utah State 17-14, Arizona 38-31, Utah 19-3 and over then #5 Stanford 20-17 along with road wins at Hawaii 30-13, Oregon State 31-14, California 62-28 and last week at Colorado 47-29. The Trojans are 6-6 ATS and the total is 4-8 this season. USC was a 21 point favorite against Colorado and the total was 53.5.

USC took a 23-0 halftime lead against Colorado, including 3 touchdowns and a safety. The Buffaloes finally got on the board early in the third on a 31 yard fumble return for a touchdown. The Trojans would expand the lead to 37-7 by the end of the quarter. Although USC would be up as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter, Colorado scored some late touchdowns to get within the 21 point spread. The Trojans would win the game 47-29. USC had 449 total yards including 243 rushing yards. Colorado had 312 total yards and 18 first downs. The Buffaloes had two turnovers and the Trojans had one.

The Trojans are outscoring teams 30-20 this season. USC is #18 in points allowed out of 125 FBS teams. USC is averaging 398.8 total yards per game, including 221.8 passing and 177.1 rushing yards. USC is #60 or worse in total, passing and rushing offense.  The Trojans are allowing 336.6 total yards per game including just 121.6 rushing yards per game and 215 passing yards. USC is #15 in total defense, #19 in rush defense and #35 in pass defense nationally.  USC is +8 in turnovers with 21 takeaways.  The Trojans have forced 33 sacks and allowed 27. USC is 59/170 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 63/191. The Trojans are averaging 57 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 47.  USC is 32/35 scoring in the red zone with 23 touchdowns, and opponents are 21/35 with 16 touchdowns. The Trojans have 3 punt returns for touchdown and one pick six this season and have allowed three pick sixes and a fumble return for a touchdown.

Cody Kessler and Max Wittek were splitting the snaps at quarterback but Kessler won the job as he has taken almost all of the snaps the last eight games.  Kessler has thrown for 2,449 yards with 15 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. Wittek has thrown for 212 yards with a pick. Third string quarterback Max Browne is questionable with a virus but he hasn’t taken a snap yet this season.

Running back Tre Madden has 135 carries for 688 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with  15 catches for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns. Javorius Allen has 88 carries, 576 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 15 catches, 189 yards and a touchdown. Justin Davis has 53 carries, 361 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with a catch. He is out for the season with an ankle injury. Silas Redd has 76 carries, 351 yards and a touchdown, along with 10 catches 45 yards and a touchdown. He is doubtful Saturday with a knee injury and missed the last two games. Running back D.J. Morgan is listed as questionable Saturday with a knee injury as is Taylor Ross.

Receiver Nelson Agholor has 47 catches, 789 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 2 punt returns for touchdowns. Marqise Lee has 44 catches for 604 yards and 2 touchdowns. Xavier Grimble has 21 catches, 220 yards and a touchdown.   Darreus Rogers has 19 catches for 218 yards. Six defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed on the injury report for the Trojans.

UCLA is 5-1 ATS after allowing more than 200 rushing yards, 8-3 after failing to cover, 5-2 against teams with winning home records, and 1-4 after a straight up loss. Six of the last seven games in this series have gone under the total. The under is 5-2 in the last seven at the Coliseum between the teams.

USC is 5-1 ATS in Pac 12 games, 4-1 at home, against teams with winning records and overall, 31-14 in November, 4-11 after a straight up win, and 1-5 against teams with winning road records, The home team has covered 8 of the last 10 in the series. The Trojans are 7-1 ATS in the last 8 against the Bruins at the Coliseum.

USC has been playing very well under Ed Orgeron, so much that it isn’t a foregone conclusion that USC brings in a high profile coach as a permanent replacement for Kiffin. In fact, Mora said earlier this week, that Orgeron should be the Pac 12 Coach of the Year. I think USC’s defense will be the difference in a close low scoring game.

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