UCLA and No. 13 USC renew their local rivalry on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in a battle of two schools moving in opposite directions. After beginning the season 3-2, the Bruins have lost four of their last five games, while USC has won six in a row after dropping three of their first four games.
The big matchup will be at quarterback. UCLA is without sophomore star Josh Rosen, who remains sidelined with a shoulder injury. Mike Fafaul has filled in with uneven results. The senior threw for 464 yards against Utah, but has thrown 10 interceptions in five games.
USC has had a resurgence under Sam Darnold. The redshirt freshman, who replaced Max Browne as the starter on Sept. 23 in a defeat to Utah, has played big in recent games. Not only has he thrown for 2,161 yards and 22 touchdowns, but he's only thrown six interceptions, and has rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns.
USC looked like they were in dire straights after the loss to the Utes. The Trojans had a 1-3 record and didn't even have a point in the AP poll after falling to three ranked teams. But behind Darnold, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, all-purpose star Adoree' Jackson and a reinvigorated defense, USC has wins over two ranked teams.
The Trojans are not just winning — they're winning big. In their six-win span, only No. 10 Colorado was able to keep the score within 12 points. USC's road victory last week over then-No. 4 Washington was probably the most meaningful victory of the Clay Helton era.
"To play that game, at this age, in that atmosphere? Unbelievable," Helton said after Saturday's win at the boisterous Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium.
The upcoming matchup could be another big victory for the streaking Trojans. USC is a 13-point favorite, according to betting site VegasInsider.com.
The UCLA run defense has been inconsistent. Utah star Joe Williams rushed for 332 yards and four touchdowns on Oct. 22, but the defense held Oregon State to just 75 yards on 32 carries last week and Colorado managed just 144 yards on 52 carries on Nov. 3.
The unit will be tested against Ronald Jones II, who has rushed for seven touchdowns in his last four games.
The UCLA offense has received a lift from Darren Andrews. The junior wide receiver has caught 49 passes for 647 yards and four touchdowns.
Start Time: 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT
TV Channel: ESPN
Betting Odds: USC -13
Over/Under: 52.5 points
Prediction: Darnold could give the Bruins defense fits with his scrambling ability and his ability to find open receivers. Expect UCLA to keep the game tight in the early going before the defense starts to tire. The Trojans should have a big second half and come away with another impressive win.
Predicted Score: USC over UCLA, 35-14