NCAA Saturday Night Football: USC/UCLA Preview

by Big Al Staff

The Saturday night game on ABC features the Battle for Los Angeles between USC and UCLA, with much on the line for the Trojans.

A victory for USC would clinch their spot in the Pac-12 conference championship game on December 18th. Even if Colorado is tied with the Trojans with an unbeaten record in conference play, USC advances from the second-tie breaker (after head-to-head since these two teams did not play this season) with their additional victory against Pac-12 South opponents. A win on Saturday would also raise the Trojans' record to 5-0, which would be the first time they started a season with at least five straight victories since the 2006 season.

USC will be playing on a short week after they defeated Washington State on Sunday night by a 38-13 score. Kedon Slovis completed 25 of 32 passes for 287 yards with five touchdown passes and no interceptions in the win. The sophomore is completing 72.1% of his passes for 1257 yards with ten touchdown passes and only two interceptions.

Slovis leads an offensive attack that is 17th in the nation by averaging 313.6 passing yards-per-game. The Trojans are scoring 33.3 points-per-game while averaging 424.5 yards-per-game. USC holds its opponents to 21.8 points-per-game along with 358.5 yards-per-game. Clay Helton’s team is second in the nation with a +1.5 net turnover margin per game.

UCLA raised their record to 3-2 last Saturday with their 25-18 upset victory at Arizona State as a field goal underdog. The win gave the Bruins a better than .500 record for the first time since October 21st, 2017.

Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson returned to the field for the first time in three games after being out with COVID. The three-year starter completed 18 of 24 passes for 192 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He also rushed for another 49 yards with a touchdown. Thomson-Robinson is completing 57.8% of his passes for 691 yards in his three games with eight touchdown passes and just two interceptions. He has also rushed for 210 yards with a 5.8 yards-per-carry average with another three touchdowns. 

UCLA is 16th in the nation by averaging 227.6 rushing yards-per-game. The Bruins are scoring 32.6 points-per-game while averaging 430.6 yards-per-game. They are holding their opponents to 24.7 points-per-game along with 373.0 yards-per-game. UCLA has held three of their last four opponents to 18 points or less. Their two losses were by six points at Colorado and three points at Oregon (without Thompson-Robinson).

Thompson-Robinson passed for 367 yards with three touchdowns against USC last year while rushing for another 64 yards with a touchdown on the ground. Yet he was bested by Slovis, who passed for 515 yards with four touchdowns to lead the Trojans to a 52-35 victory on November 23rd. USC has won 16 of the last 21 meetings between these city rivals.

lists USC as a 2.5-point road favorite with the total set at 62. The ABC broadcast begins at 7:30 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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