Rivalry Week is in full swing as we are now two days away until the cardinal-clad USC Trojans travel to Pasadena to face the baby blue UCLA Bruins.
We all know that UCLA dual-threat quarterback Brett Hundley and two-way star linebacker/short yardage running back Myles Jack will be two Bruins the Trojans are going to have to try to stop on Saturday.
But who are some other Bruins players USC will have to watch out for?
RB Paul Perkins
The sophomore from Queen Creek, Ariz. has become an absolute stud in his first season as the Bruins' starter, sitting 12 yards behind USC’s Buck Allen for the most rushing yards in the conference. Through 10 games, Paul Perkins has rushed for 1,172 yards on 190 carries and six rushing touchdowns.
Talk about consistency: Perkins has rushed for at least 78 yards in every game and has four games with over 125 rushing yards. What’s more astonishing about Perkins' stats is that he is averaging over six yards a carry for the Bruins. However, Perkins hasn't carried the ball 25 times in a game this season. But if USC is unable to stop Paul Perkins early, one can expect him to get the ball often.
WR Jordan Payton
UCLA has not had a 1,000-yard receiver since tight end Nelson Rosario had 1,161 receiving yards in 2011. Jordan Payton currently has 839 yards and with two games to go, he should reach that mark. The 6’1" junior leads the team in all major receiving categories and has had at least 56 yards in every game except one.
Payton is by far Brett Hundley’s favorite target and had the best game of his career on September 25 against Arizona State when he had five receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns including a 80-yard score on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Kevon Seymour will likely be matched up with Payton for much of the game on Saturday.
LB Eric Kendricks
Saturday’s game will have three Butkus Award semifinalists in action. Hayes Pullard for USC, Myles Jack and Eric Kendricks for UCLA. Jack gets all the publicity for UCLA but Eric Kendricks is the Bruins' best defensive player and has become the team’s leader after Anthony Barr left for the NFL.
Kendricks has over 100 tackles for the third straight season with 110 through 10 games, second in the conference behind Arizona’s Scooby Wright III. Kendricks is one of the best, if not the best, tacklers in the nation and is extremely athletic. It’s not a matter of if he'll make a big play, but rather how many the senior makes against the Trojans.
CB Ishmael Adams
This week on who will be matching up with USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor: UCLA playmaker Ishmael Adams. Don’t let the height fool you, Adams is 5’8" but is extremely physical. The second-year starter has become one of the best defensive backs in the conference.
Although he has only two interceptions this year ,down from his four last year, they were both returned for a touchdown. Adams also handles the kick and punt return duties for the Bruins and had a 100-yard kickoff for a touchdown against Arizona State.