This cross town rivalry runs deep. Here are the matchups you should be keeping your eye on during the game.
USC Defensive Line vs. UCLA Offensive Line
As in every football game, the battle begins up front. It will be particularly important for USC’s defense to control the line of scrimmage this week though to avoid an upset. UCLA has found a bit of a groove on the ground in the past few games. The Bruins have established an effective running back by committee attack led by Soso Jamabo. In their win against Oregon State last week, UCLA was able to establish the run and it took some pressure off of quarterback Mike Fafaul who is filling in for injured Josh Rosen. It was a big difference from their loss against Utah a few weeks earlier where Fafaul had 70 pass attempts. Putting that much of a workload on your quarterback’s shoulders usually sets you up for failure. If USC is able to take away the run game like they did against Washington and force UCLA to chase points by throwing it anywhere even near 70 times, the Trojans should have a good evening. With UCLA receivers struggling with drops, and Fafaul already having 10 interceptions in his short time as a starter, the USC secondary could have a nice afternoon.
Chris Hawkins vs. Darren Andrews
UCLA’s leading receiver Darren Andrews stated in an interview earlier this week that he expects a good amount words to be exchanged between him and Chris Hawkins. The two have known each other dating all the way back to their youth football days. Both the players are highly competitive and they both want to have bragging rights for the next year. Look for Hawkins to try to deliver a big hit to Andrews and the ensuing trash talk that is bound to happen afterwards. This should be a fun matchup to keep your eye on throughout the night.
Adoree Jackson vs. Jordan Lasley
Jordan Lasley is UCLA’s other top receiver. He and Adoree Jackson were teammates at Serra High School. They are a perfect example of how deep this rivalry goes, and what it means to Los Angeles area football players. This should be a fun battle to watch when they match up against each other. Adoree has been stellar this season for the Trojans, and it should be expected that his level of play will rise even higher when competing against a longtime friend and former teammate. Lasley has caught 34 balls this year for 475 yards and 3 touchdowns. We should see an ultra-competitive war when these two match up.
Ronald Jones II vs. Jayon Brown
Ronald Jones has really hit his stride after filling in for Justin Davis. In the past three games he has rushed for nearly 500 yards. USC has used the run game to establish the tone of the game the last few weeks. The Trojans have been a hard nosed team attacking downhill on offense, and the addition of Sam Darnold’s run ability has opened things up even more for the running backs. If Jones is able to run effectively and control the time of possession for the Trojans they will have a good night. Jayon Brown is UCLA’s leading tackler. The Long Beach Poly grad has 97 tackles on the year. Part of his success is the play of standout defensive tackle Takkarist McKinley. McKinley is a force on the defensive line with 18 tackles for loss, that’s an average of about 2 TFL’s per game. He has been able to occupy lineman all year in the run game allowing Brown to scrape freely and make tackles. If the Trojan O-line struggles with McKinley, Ronald Jones will have to use his speed and shiftiness to avoid meeting Brown in the hole. However if the Trojan o-line is able to consistently block both McKinley and Brown, Ronald Jones should have a big night. The Bruins are giving up an average of 160.3 yards per game on the ground this season.
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