Week 14 - UCLA at USC

Posted Nov 27, 2013

Week 14 Fearless Prediction & Preview - UCLA at USC

UCLA (8-3) at USC (9-3) Nov. 30, 8:00, ABC

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Ed Orgeron's protracted job audition continues in the 83rd edition of a storied crosstown rivalry.

Orgeron is a candidate for the full-time USC job that opened up when Lane Kiffin was fired on Sept. 28. Will he get an offer from AD Pat Haden? We'll see, but he can certainly enhance his case by beating rival UCLA in front of a national audience on Saturday night. Orgeron has reenergized the Trojans, winning five straight and six of the last seven since taking the reins. Troy can win reach 10 wins this weekend, while making another statement to undecided local recruits.

The Bruins have been a minor disappointment this season. Since starting fast and rising deep into the Top 25, they've split their last six games, unable to elevate against ranked opponents. UCLA suffered its biggest hit last Saturday, losing at home to Arizona State to fall out of South Division contention. Jim Mora's kids really need to win this game in the Coliseum in order to avoid a hollow feeling entering the postseason.

Why UCLA Might Win: The Bruins have the edge at quarterback, and they'll need to leverage it on Saturday night.

- UCLA's Brett Hundley and USC's Cody Kessler are both sophomores, but the latter is a caretaker, while the former is a genuine playmaker. Kessler is improved, but he hasn't been asked to do too much. Hundley, on the other hand, is capable of carrying his team if needed. Sure, he's struggled at times, but he's also the kind of dual-threat who needs to be watched at all times. Hundley is surrounded by a talented supporting cast that's gotten a boost from the addition of RB Myles Jack. Only twice this season have the Bruins been held below 31 points.

Why USC Might Win: UCLA has struggled mightily when faced with aggressive defenses. Trojan defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has taken notice.

- The Bruins got whipped at the point of attack by Arizona State a week ago, allowing nine sacks. Troy can have a similar impact on opponents, dominating the line of scrimmage with an aggressive front seven that includes ends Leonard Williams and George Uko and outside linebackers Devon Kennard and J.R. Tavai. Hundley is outstanding, but his full array of skills will not be on display if the Trojans are constantly busting through the gates and flushing him from the pocket.

Who To Watch Out For: The USC front wall can be leaky as well, but will the Bruins be able to capitalize? Despite having LB Anthony Barr, UCLA is just seventh in the Pac-12 in sacks. Barr, who knocked out Matt Barkley in last year's meeting, just isn't enough help from a supporting cast that has only 14 sacks in 11 games.

- RB Silas Redd continues to be questionable for the Trojans, but the ground game is now in the capable hands of Javorius Allen, who's rushed for at least 133 yards in three of the last four games. Allen is one of a number of players who's flourished since Orgeron took over the interim job.

- DE Eddie Vanderoes is laying the foundation of a great career at UCLA. The true freshman, with the uncommon athleticism for a 6-4, 305-pounder has been the starting for the past month, and even caught a pass from Hundley last Saturday.

- Can USC keep drives alive on third downs? Troy is last in the Pac-12 in the category, and will be facing a UCLA D that's only allowing 36% of attempts to be converted. Kessler has to deliver on third-and-long, finding WR Nelson Agholor, one of his sure-handed tight ends or WR Marqise Lee, who's expected to play after sitting out last week.

What Will Happen: The South Division is no longer a goal, but it'll be no less electric inside the Coliseum on Saturday night.

Orgeron. Jack. Trojans. Bruins. This year's battle for the Victory Bell will be flush with juicy storylines. While USC is peaking, UCLA could be sulking after last week's crippling loss to Arizona State. The Trojans have something special going, a run under Orgeron that isn't going to be halted by an incomplete Bruin squad. Troy will harass Hundley into mistakes, while taking a conservative approach on offense. Allen will score twice, helping lead the Trojans to an exciting win over their crosstown rival.

Prediction: USC 31 … UCLA 24
Line: UCLA -3.5 o/u: 54.5
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 4
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