One of college football’s greatest rivalries takes center stage once again this coming Saturday as the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans square off in a pivotal Pac-12 showdown. Both teams are hot on the heels of Arizona State for the Pac-12 South lead and a win by either side this coming weekend will go a long way in shaping their respective title aspirations this year.
Can UCLA extend their winning streak to five games? Or will the Trojans put a damper on their plans? Read on for a preview of this important matchup and while you’re at it, you can check out our preview of Baylor vs. Oklahoma State here.[sc:NCAAFArticles ]
USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins Betting Preview
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena
When: Saturday, November 22, 2014, TBD
Line: USC Trojans (+3.5) at UCLA Bruins (-3.5) – view all NCAA Football lines
Betting on the USC Trojans
The USC Trojans can finally look forward to their big clash with rivals UCLA after edging past California in a tight and tense affair last Thursday. It wasn’t easy by any means for the Trojans who failed to cover the spread for the second time in three games.
[sc:NCAA240banner ]Leading by 22 early in the fourth quarter, the Trojans had to survive a late charge by the Golden Bears who trimmed the deficit to just eight heading into the final 1:36 of the ballgame. USC’s victory was only secured when they recovered the ensuing onside kick to beat California for the 11th consecutive time.
If they are to snap their two-game losing streak to UCLA this coming Saturday, though, they would need a much better production from Javorius Allen. The tailback had a subpar performance against California, rushing for only 60 yards in 21 carries against the Golden Bears. That may be a great outing for others but not for Allen who is averaging 118.4 rushing yards per game this season, 12th-best in the entire FBS.
In fact, he was on a six-game 100-rushing yard tear prior to the game against California. He will fancy his chances of rediscovering his form against UCLA who has been struggling with their rushing defense in recent times.
The Bruins allowed 211 rushing yards in their 44-30 win over the Washington Huskies last week. That was the fourth time in the last six games that the Bruins have allowed 200 or more rushing yards in a game. That is definitely good news for the Trojans who are averaging 163.1 yards per game on the ground this season, 59th in the entire FBS.
The Trojans are 3-2 ATS on the road this season.
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Betting on the UCLA Bruins
The Bruins have extended their winning streak to four games after beating Washington 44-30 at Husky Stadium. Moreover, the victory also helped the Bruins complete a perfect road campaign with UCLA going undefeated in their six road assignments this season.
UCLA will look to translate that excellent road form into their next game which is their much-anticipated meeting with rivals USC. They will fancy their chances of doing just that because of the current play of their starting quarterback Brett Hundley.
Hundley was superb against the Huskies as he completed 29 of 36 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns. That was the fourth 300-yard passing game for Hundley this season who also rushed for two touchdowns against Washington. Hundley also set a new UCLA record during that game, becoming the all-time leader in touchdown passes with a total of 70 in his Bruins career.
He will be licking his chops at the prospect of facing the USC secondary this coming Saturday as the Trojans have been atrocious with their passing defense this season. They are only 102nd in that department this year with USC allowing 261.7 yards per game via the aerial route this season.
The one thing that UCLA needs to be wary of, though, is their own shaky defense. As mentioned earlier, the Bruins have struggled with their defensive line, allowing 162.8 rushing yards per game this season, 66th in the entire FBS. It’s not only their D-line, though, that is having problems right now but their secondary defense as well.
They are only 91st in the entire FBS in passing defense with the Bruins allowing 247.2 yards per game this season. It won’t get any easier for them this coming weekend as they will face an in-form Cody Kessler who has been lights out for USC this season.
Kessler shredded California’s porous pass defense in their last game, completing 31 of 42 passes for 371 yards and four touchdowns. It was his connection, though, with Nelson Agholor that the Bruins will definitely be paying close attention to. Agholor caught a career-high 16 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns in the game against California to become the first player in Trojans history to record two consecutive 200-yard receiving games.
For the season, he now has 82 receptions for 1,079 yards and 10 touchdowns. Limiting his production this coming Saturday will go a long way in helping UCLA record the all-important victory.
The Bruins are 1-3 ATS at home this season.
Kessler and Agholor will be too much for UCLA as the Trojans edge past the Bruins, 27-20.[sc:NCAA490banner ]
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