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UCLA vs. USC and The Battle of Los Angeles: A Ranked UCLA vs. USC Match-Up

UCLA vs. USC. Dodgers vs. Angels. A peculiar footnote from World War II-era history. A killer Rage Against the Machine Album from the 90s. The Battle of Los Angeles is all of these things, but only one battle of Los Angeles matters in Southern California this weekend: UCLA vs. USC.

After Oregon’s stunning loss to regional rivals Washington, the USC Trojans remain the last best chance of the Pac-12 conference to participate in the College Football Playoff. 

The Trojans will finish out their season with two ranked rivalry opponents: the UCLA Bruins and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Crosstown Classic, as it is known in Los Angeles, kicks off at 7 PM in Brentwood. USC is favored on the road as a 2.5-point favorite, and the game carries a total of 76.

Bruins At Home In Brentwood

UCLA’s season has been relatively successful. They come into Saturday’s game with the 3rd best offense in the Pac-12, and the best rushing attack in the Pac-12. The rushing attack is led by running back Zack Charbonnet, with 1145 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns on the season. 

The Bruins are a middle-of-the-road team in the passing game. Their defense gives up almost 30 points on average per game and hasn’t scored a defensive touchdown all season. Prognosticators expect UCLA vs. USC to be a shootout, as evidenced by the total.

The Bruins had a strong start to the season, winning their first six games of the season. Two of those wins included ranked conference opponents Washington & Utah. They stumbled at Oregon, won their next two games, and fell last week to Arizona. UCLA is hoping to play spoiler to their crosstown rival’s national hopes and ruin many UCLA vs. USC picks.

USC Playing for Pac-12’s Reputation

UCLA’s offense is explosive, but not as explosive as rival USC’s. Lincoln Riley’s squad is the 3rd ranked offense in Division 1, averaging 42.4 points per game. Quarterback Caleb Williams has 31 TD passes and two interceptions on the season. Williams really spreads the ball around well – there are ten players on the roster who have at least two receiving touchdowns. 

Unfortunately, one of USC’s biggest weapons, running back Travis Dye, went down with a season-ending injury in last week’s 55-17 win over the Colorado Buffaloes. Dye’s effect on opposing defenses opened up the passing game for Caleb Williams. Back-up running back Austin Jones has featured well in spots but may not have the long-term deceptive value of Dye. 

The UCLA vs. USC battle of Los Angeles is a good opportunity for the Trojans to put together a compelling resume for the playoff committee. Most of their season is filled with wins over inferior teams, as betting lines have demonstrated. The best resume piece they have is a loss at Utah. 

With the last two games of the season against ranked opponents, they have an opportunity to create a compelling case for the Playoff Committee of teams to consider should someone up there fall out of the undefeated category. It’ll be a fun one in Brentwood on Saturday night when UCLA vs. USC meet in another Battle Of Los Angeles.

 

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