The #11 USC Trojans (9-2, 7-1) return to action following their 38-24 win at Colorado a week ago to face off against the UCLA Bruins (5-5, 3-4) in the Coliseum. Our staff took their best shot at predicting the outcome, make sure to leave your prediction in the comments below.
Brendan: Sam Darnold shines in primetime
The Trojans are coming off three straight wins, all of which in pretty convincing fashion, playing their best football of the season. During this streak Darnold has thrown over 900 yards and seven touchdowns, showcasing why most NFL analysts have him rated as the best quarterback in the country. This is the perfect opportunity for Darnold to display his skills: hot streak, rivalry game, talented opposing quarterback, primetime.
Ronald Jones’ dominating recent performances (last three games: 552 rushing yards for six touchdowns) will help provide a perfect balance to this Trojan offense, which should fare well against a Bruins defense that was gashed by ASU, Utah and Washington in recent weeks. I have no doubt the Bruins will come to play, after all it is USC vs. UCLA in primetime. But in the end, the Trojans will be too much to handle.
Matthew: USC has to stay focused against UCLA
USC has already locked up the Pac-12 South, However they can’t afford to just dismiss UCLA and think about the Pac-12 Championship game, which is two weeks away. Rivalry games always tend to be tricky and this could be no different. UCLA has a Josh Rosen, who has been a huge reason why the Bruin offense has some success through the air, however their defense hasn’t played up to par at all this season. USC has placed themselves back in the Playoff discussion, however the Trojans also has shown the inability to put teams away. Key here will be to get pressure on Rosen and disrupt the UCLA passing game.
I think UCLA will come out swinging wanting to ruing the party for USC in primetime. Rosen will also come out looking to prove a point, However USC offensively has too much fire power and the Bruins defense is bad....REALLY bad. Not to mention UCLA is 0-5 away from the Rose Bowl. USC offensively flexes it’s muscles and heads into the bye week with their first 10 win regular season since 2011.
Richard: Offense continues to build momentum heading into the Pac-12 Title Game
We’ve noted USC’s nearly complete offensive performance last against Colorado, and I expect more of the same against UCLA. Since getting back receivers Michael Pittman Jr., Steven Mitchell Jr. and the rise of Tyler Vaughns, the passing game has made leaps and bounds (as expected).
The Trojans should own this game on offense with a greater inclusion of a healthy Stephen Carr and of course your regular dose of arguably the best RB in the country Ronald Jones II. Sam Darnold might be under pressure to sling it out with Josh Rosen, but this UCLA Bruin team has shown the ability to comeback—considering their 34-point comeback victory over Texas A&M in their first game of the season.
This deep-rooted rivalry game is the ultimate trap heading into the Pac-12 title game and hopefully the playoffs, so USC will look to make their biggest statement of the season as their offense explodes in a 45-30 victory over the Bruins.
Josh: USC will make enough plays to put this one away pretty early
Sam Darnold vs. Josh Rosen—I’d be lying if I weren’t saying that I am exited for this game. It’s hard not to be when you have two quarterbacks that will (arguably) be selected in the top five of the 2018 NFL Draft. USC fans have seen their team play up and down all season, but inconsistency has plagued this Bruin team all year. Josh Rosen, while he has played well, isn’y surrounded by the most talent in the country. This game may be a shootout but, ultimately, Trojan fans should expect USC to pull away and pull away mightily.
USC tops UCLA, 35-20