UCLA has a slim chance of reaching a bowl and it likely requires a win against USC. There’s also some revenge in this game because UCLA won this matchup 34-27 last year on the heels of 313 rushing yards. The Trojans were still early -14 point home favorites with an over/under of 63.
One week ago, that spread would’ve looked high, but after UCLA fell 49-3 at Utah and USC won 41-17 at Cal, it makes a little more sense. Still, these teams aren’t much different from each other.
They both are a level below the best teams in the Pac-12 with USC’s win over Utah looking like somewhat of a fluke. USC’s defense remains a problem and that’s why UCLA has a decent shot of covering. The Trojans are allowing more than 400 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry.
That run defense is why they lost last year’s matchup and couldn’t pull away from a team like Colorado earlier this season.
That’s exactly where UCLA could have success again because running back Joshua Kelley has been great, averaging 4.8 yards per carry for 939 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He ran for 78 yards against a stout Utah defense last week and went for more than 125 in the three contests before that. He’ll likely be given 20-plus carries with 30 possible if the Bruins keep the score close.
Otherwise, Dorian Thompson-Robinson is hit or miss with most of his hits against bad defenses. While he’s not a top quarterback, he’s at least had some good performances and is part of the reason why UCLA won three straight games before the trip to Utah.
Of course, the Bruins are also bad defensively, though they’re worse against the pass, allowing almost 300 passing yards per game on a terrible 9.1 yards per attempt. That’s perfect for Kedon Slovis, who is putting together a solid campaign, throwing 15 touchdowns in the last four games.
For the season, he’s completing 70.8% of his passes on 8.7 yards per attempt and could up that number against this defense. Slovis has a talented trio of receivers with Michael Pittman, Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown some of the best in the conference.
The Trojans don’t run the ball as well and some of that is because of injury, but Kenan Christon is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and Stephen Carr returned from injury last game.
There’s going to be points in this game, there’s no doubt about it. The question is if USC’s run defense is going to show up because otherwise, it could be a back and forth matchup. The Trojans have played better at home this season, but their defense has been an issue no matter the location.
The over has hit in USC’s last four games, while it’s 3-1-1 in UCLA’s last five games. However, the under is 10-2-1 in the last 13 meetings between these schools and the Bruins are 5-2 ATS in the last seven.
Our Pick – UCLA +14