The path hasn’t been as smooth as expected, but No. 12 UCLA controls its own destiny heading into Saturday’s Pac-12 South showdown against visiting USC. The Bruins rebounded from back-to-back losses against Utah and Oregon with four straight wins and can secure a spot in the Pac-12 championship game by defeating No. 24 USC and Stanford. UCLA has won the last two meetings against USC, which can clinch the division with a win over the Bruins and one Arizona State loss in its final two games.
The crosstown rivalry game features two of the top quarterbacks in the league in UCLA’s Brett Hundley and USC’s Cody Kessler, who is connecting on 70 percent of his passes while throwing 29 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The Trojans’ stellar defensive line needs to pressure Hundley, who threw for 302 yards and accounted for four TDs in last week’s 44-30 win over Washington. After allowing 23 sacks in their first five games, the Bruins have permitted eight in their past five contests.
TV: 8 ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The opening line saw UCLA -3 where it stayed until Tuesday when it jumped to -3.5. By Friday afternoon, the Bruins were -4. The opening total of 61 has yet to move.
INJURY REPORT: USC – LB J.R. Tavai (Prob-Knee), FB Soma Vainuku (Prob-Undisclosed), CB Josh Shaw (Ques-Suspension) UCLA – FB Nate Iese (Ques-Shoulder)
WEATHER OUTLOOK: Yet another good night of football at the Rose Bowl. The skies are expected to be partly cloudy with light winds blowing no more than 2 mph.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Oregon may be the top dog in the PAC-12 but the South is clearly the dominant division in this loop with no less than 5 of the six residents residing in the AP Top 25. Cross town rivals UCLA and USC are two of four teams from the South tied with two conference losses and battling for the top spot. Bruins benefit from an extra week to prepare, although the Trojans enter off a clash with California last Thursday. Another classic matchup that is likely to come down to whoever scores last wins.” – Covers Expert Marc Lawrence
WHAT BOOKS SAY:
ABOUT NO. 24 USC (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS, 4-6 O/U): Kessler has one of the best targets in the country in wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who was named Pac-12 offensive player of the week after catching a career-best 16 passes for 216 yards with two touchdowns in a 38-30 win over California. USC is averaging a Pac-12-high 9.2 penalties and saw three touchdowns called back against the Golden Bears. Versatile safety Su’a Cravens has 14 tackles for loss to lead the Trojans, who rank second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (23.3 points per game).
ABOUT NO. 12 UCLA (8-2 SU, 3-7 ATS, 4-5-1 O/U): Hundley has sparked the Bruins’ surge with five rushing scores in the last five games, while wide receiver Jordan Payton has a team-high 58 receptions and seven touchdowns. Running back Paul Perkins averages a league-high 6.2 yards per carry and ranks second behind USC’s Javorius Allen with an average of 117.2 yards on the ground. Linebacker Eric Kendricks has eight double-digit tackle games this season to lead the defense, which held Arizona to seven points two weeks ago.
*Trojans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. win.
*Bruins are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a bye week.
*Under is 7-1 in the last 8 meetings.
*Trojans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 meetings in UCLA.