The USC Trojans host the UCLA Bruins on Saturday in a game that could have ramifications for both sides, outside of mere bragging rights.
For UCLA, a win on Saturday moves the Bruins closer to bowl eligibility after starting the season with a huge dud. Outside of the creaming last week against the Utah Utes, the Bruins have been moderately successful in the second half of the season.
As for the Trojans, they are looking to keep their PAC-12 South Division hopes alive. The team trails the Utes by one game but does hold the tiebreaker as they are the only team to beat Utah this season.
It would take a flukey loss against Arizona or Colorado and the Trojans winning out for USC to head to the PAC-12 Championship game, but it is possible. The fact that there is even the possibility this late is a huge surprise for many.
Neither team may be in the midst of a great season like year’s past but that is okay, this is still arguably the best crosstown rivalry in Los Angeles; it is at least the one with the most history.
Here is how the LA Sports Hub staff see the contest going down.
Jamaal Artis (9-8): 35-30, USC
The UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans crosstown rivalry pit two teams playing for irrelevance. Bruins fans want to see their team repeat the performance from last year against the Trojans.
Trojan fans are torn knowing another win makes a case that Clay Helton will stick around for another year.
It won’t be like this past week the Trojans won’t blow out the Bruins and the Bruins can’t play any worse (they hope). Rivalry week tends to a close game I expect Kedon Slovis to tear up the porous Bruins and the Trojans defense to struggle handling a mobile QB in Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Hil Lopez (9-9): 35-30, USC
The Bruins and Trojans face off in their annual rivalry game this week. The Bruins are looking for bragging rights in this game because at 4-7, they will not be making a bowl game this year. On the other hand, USC is 7-4 and will be in a bowl game this year. They look to defeat the maligned Bruins who have had a rough season.
Since USC is at home, they will get off to a good start and hold off the Bruins. The game will be close, but USC wins 35-30.
Redan Lopez (13-6): 35-28, USC
The So Cal Showdown between the Trojans and Bruins is going to be a good one. UCLA considerably came down to earth against a more physical, superior Utah Utes squad that allowed only 3 points.
Meanwhile, USC got the win they needed against the California Golden Bears to keep pace with the Utes. Should the Utes lose to either Arizona and/or Colorado in the next two weeks and USC win this game, USC would win the Pac-12 South title, something I certainly did not envision it winning at the beginning of the season.
The Trojans are the better team offensively and defensively. Trojans’ QB Kedon Slovis has been excellent since taking over early in the season and has not slowed down, with the exception of the Oregon game a few weeks ago.
The Bruins are a team in transition and the play of its Freshman QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson is one of inconsistency. As a result, I cannot trust the Bruins in such an important matchup against their crosstown rivals.
I don’t think the Trojans will run away with this game, but they will definitely be ahead most of it.
As a fellow UCLA graduate, I hate to say this but the Trojans simply need this game and will not be denied. Their will to win will survive a potential UCLA comeback that will fall just short.
Jason Reed (11-8): 28-20, UCLA
Look, USC should win this game and I was burned by trusting the Bruins last week, which is strange considering I have been one of the first people to remind readers how bad UCLA is.
However, it just feels wrong to imagine Clay Helton still being the head coach of the USC Trojans next season and the one way to get him canned after a promising year is by losing a rivalry game to the lowly Bruins.
The UCLA Bruins are fighting for bowl eligibility while Trojan fans are fighting for Helton to lose his job. Ironically, UCLA winning helps both parties.