All right, the rallies have been held, the bonfires have been lit, the inspiring speeches have been spoken, and the promises of victory have been made.
As it’s understood, a prediction as to how the 82nd meeting of the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans, the renewal of a crosstown rivalry that dates back to 1929, will unfold and who will triumph and end up with the Victory Bell – and a trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game – needs to be made, so here I go…
First, let me start by making this crystal clear statement, something that I believe very strongly:
This game is going to be a combination of a heavyweight championship fight and an all-out war.
The reason? Simple – not only are the normal braggng rights to Los Angeles at stake, but this season the level of both teams have not been this equal since 2005, when a 9-1 Bruin team faced an undefeated Trojan team.
This year marks a real chance for UCLA to put an end to their five-game and 12-out-of 13 losing skid to ‘SC, and believe me, the intensity of both squads will be 25 on a scale of 1 to 10.
As for the game itself…
Bruin hopes for a win depend on the interior lines on both sides of the ball – the defense must pressure Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley and not give him time to throw to stud receivers Robert Woods and especially Marquise Lee, who has been a freak the past few weeks.
I think that Jim Mora’s team, due of their motivation, will be fairly successful in applying that pressure and will cause a few hurries and sacks, but Barkley and company are just too talented to be completely shut down, and they will get their yards – particulrly Lee as he is on an absolute roll – and points.
But UCLA’s offense is not exactly chopped liver, either, as their average of 37.7 points a game is actually better that USC’s 36.9.
Assuming that the offensive line does its job, Brett Hundley will be successful in getting yards and points as well, as his legs (unlike Barkley who’s not known to be a scrambler) and the edge that Johnathan Franklin gives the Bruins in the running game will help to keep ‘SC’s offense off the field more than they want.
Plus unlike past years, the passing game for UCLA has been solid; those 24 touchdown passes that Hundley has thrown this year were not by accident.
OK, here’s how I think it will all turn out:
Both teams will be involved in a moderate shootout with a few defensive highlights, but I just feel that due to the revenge factor – I don’t think anyone in Bruin Nation has forgotten the 50-0 humiliation of last year – the intensity of the home crowd in the Rose Bowl that will up the Bruins’ intensity, and the fact that UCLA has an edge in the kicking game, with Ka’imi Fairburn having a solid freshman season while Trojan Andre Hedari has had knee surgery, forcing Lane Kiffin to go for it on fourth down and go for two after touchdowns more than he would like, will result in this score:
UCLA BRUINS 44 – USC TROJANS 38
Whether I am accurate or not will be known by roughly 4:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
But one thing is for certain: This has all the markings of a game for the ages.
Here’s to the game being just that, with no injuries.
And hopefully, in light of the fan violence in recent years, notably the brawl between Bruin and Trojan fans outside the Rose Bowl in 2010 that left three people stabbed, what happens on the field stays on the field.