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#22 UCLA BRUINS (8-3) vs USC TROJANS (7-4)
DAY/DATE/TIME: Saturday, November 28th, 12:30 p.m.
PLACE: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
TV: ABC Channel 7
AT STAKE (Besides the City Championship, bragging rights and the Victory Bell): The Pac-12 South title and a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game ve Stanford
ALL-TIME SERIES: USC Leads 46-31-7 (two wins vacated due to NCAA sanctions)
FIRST GAME: 1929 – Trojans won 76-0
MOST RECENT GAME: 2014 – Bruins won 38-20
LONGEST WIN STREAKS: UCLA won eight straight from 1991-1998, USC won seven straight from 1999-2005
LINE: Trojans favored by three
OK SOCAL, HERE IT IS: HOW I PERSONALLY SEE THIS LATEST RIVALRY CLASH ON THE GRIDIRON BETWEEN UCLA’s BRUINS FROM WESTWOOD AND USC’s TROJANS FROM UNIVERSITY PARK UNFOLDING:
The Short Answer: It will be a hard-fought affair and not a blowout win for either side.
USC’s Song Girls doing a routine during the Trojans’ spring game. Photo courtesy of gunaxin.com
Now let’s elaborate…
Although both teams obviously have much to play for and are guaranteed to come out playing hard, USC’s motivation will be pronounced, at least a 50 on a scale of one to ten, due to these main factors:
1. The Trojans are at home, with 75% of the fans (at bare minimum) wearing cardinal and gold gear not only passionately rooting for them, but doing whatever is necessary to make the atmosphere at the Coliseum extremely hostile for the Bruins – and the blue and gold gear-wearing fans, cheerleaders, marching band, and any other member of Bruin Nation who will be at the Coliseum supporting UCLA.
That will serve as a psychological advantage for Clay Helton’s team.
2. Except for the few red shirt seniors who were at the Coliseum for ‘SC’s humiliating 50-0 thrashing of the Bruins in 2011, nobody on that Trojan team has beaten UCLA as they are on a current three-game losing skid.
If any Trojan is not 100,000% angry at that fact and doesn’t dearly want to do whatever they have to do to end it, I would like to meet them.
Cody Kessler, who as a senior is playing his last home game at USC and has particularly suffered as he has been sacked 12 times in his two losses to the Bruins, will love nothing more than to have his best day in that cardinal helmet.
USC Trojan QB Cody Kessler being chased by UCLA’s Eddie Vanderdoes (#47) and Deon Hollins (#58) during the 2014 Crosstown Clash at the Rose Bowl. Photo courtesy of ReignofTroy.com
Those mental motivations will be why ‘SC will come out strong as JuJu Smith-Schuster will be Kessler’s main target and get his catches and yards.
The running backs, most prominently Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II, will have some success on the ground as UCLA has been vulnerable to that all year since the loss of Eddie Vanderdoes and Myles Jack.
But before anyone concludes these predictions as leading to a solid triumph for the Trojans, as Lee Corso of ESPN’s College Game Day would say:
“Not so fast, my friend!”
UCLA’s Dance Team performing before a game at the Rose Bowl. Photo courtesy of beatsc.com
Jim Mora’s band of Bruins are 8-3 and coming off a win over a tough Utah team for a reason; it would be the biggest shock in the history of this rivalry if they came out flat as besides keeping the Victory Bell painted blue, UCLA dearly wants another crack at Stanford to get the opportunity to do what has been a goal of the Bruin coach and his team since the beginning of his tenure in 2012:
Win the Pac-12 championship.
I particularly see their passing game as being effective on Saturday as although Josh Rosen is an 18-year old true freshman quarterback who will be experiencing his first Crosstown Rivalry game – in hostile territory, no less,
Rosen is not like other true freshmen as he has shown the poise of a senior since throwing three-touchdown passes in his debut against Virginia.
I’m sure he won’t let the USC’s team or the Trojan Family rattle him, as it’s been evident that Rosen has been preparing for moments like what is coming since high school if not Pop Warner football.
The fact that UCLA’s offensive line, led by senior center Jake Brendel, has done a very good job in protecting Rosen in giving up only 12 sacks all year doesn’t hurt. They will be sorely needed to perform again as ‘SC’s front seven, led by Su’a Cravens and Delvon Simmons, will be coming at that QB with everything they got.
In other words, look for that Trojan defense to blitz often.
And look for that UCLA O-line to hold their own as while a couple of sacks are inevitable, it won’t be the ultimate factor on who wins.
The line’s performance will also be the reason why Perkins and the other Bruin backs will have decent days running the ball, which will enable Rosen to be effective throwing it. They may not get 100 yards, but they won’t completely lay an egg, either.
The Solid Gold Sound of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band (which I was a member of from 1988-1990, playing the tenor saxophone), running onto the field to begin their pregame show at a game. Photo courtesy of uclaband.com
Actually, I see field goals as being the difference in this 85th meeting of these two adversaries.
Not that I see either kicker nailing a 45 or a 50-something yarder with two seconds left as I don’t think it will come down to that.
But if it does, UCLA will have the clear advantage as Ka’imi Fairbairn, who has had the season of his life as a record 60-yard kick is among his 20 field goals (out of 22 attempts made), is so much ahead of his USC counterpart, Alex Wood.
In short, if the game comes down to kicks, the Bruins will definitely win.
As such, the kicker’s performances is a part of what leads me to give this official prediction of the final score:
UCLA BRUINS – 37
USC TROJANS – 31
Though I am standing by this score, make no mistake:
From an objective view, this game could go either way.
But from a view of someone who’s a longtime Bruin and who remembers games going back to the 1970s, it would be dishonest of me to say that I’m like Switzerland as far as this Crosstown Rivalry of ours – neutral.
What I really hope, however, is that an excellent game is played on that Coliseum field on Saturday afternoon with no brawls or unsportsmanlike incidents or injuries from the fans as well as the players.
I suppose there’s nothing left to do but to kick this thing off, which will happen 24 hours from this writing.
THIS CROSSTOWN RIVALRY COVERAGE IS NOT OVER YET!
COME BACK TO THIS SITE ON MONDAY FOR AN ANALYSIS OF THE GAME, INCLUDING WHAT I SAW AS THE TURNING POINT OF THE BRUIN-TROJAN CLASH, AND THE FACTORS TO THE WINNERS TRIUMPHING.
IT WILL BE MOST INFORMATIVE, SO DON’T MISS IT!