The Pac-12 South will be decided on Saturday when the USC Trojans face off against the UCLA Bruins. The Trojans have dominated this series over the last five years, but UCLA is currently ahead of USC in the standings and national rankings.
No. 17 UCLA has lost the last five games in the rivalry. The last Bruin victory came in 2006 and the loss kept USC from playing for a national title.
No. 18 USC finished ahead of UCLA last season, but the Trojans weren't eligible for postseason play so the Bruins represented the South in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game.
When: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3:05 p.m. ET
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Live Stream: Pac-12 Video
Radio: Free Football Radio
Betting Line (via OddsShark)
Over/Under: 65, Spread: USC -3.5
This game should be a battle reminiscent of when both Los Angeles schools were elite football programs. Both offenses can move the ball, but the defensive units have been erratic.
It is impossible to project when one of these games will turn into a defensive struggle, such as the 2006 game. However, it would be surprising to see that happen this weekend.
USC has the nation's No. 26 scoring offense while the Bruins are ranked 22nd. Both scoring defenses are ranked in the 40's.
UCLA has had a better season thus far, but USC has had a more difficult schedule. This is a game the Trojans will win in a high-scoring battle.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Christian Thomas, TE, Questionable (Hip)
Cody Temple, DT, Out (Ankle)
David Garness, T, Out (Back)
Scott Starr, LB, Out (Neck)
Brian Baucham, CB, Out (Lung)
Greg Capella, C, Out (Concussion)
Devin Lucien, WR, Day-to-Day (Collarbone)
The winner of this game will advance to the Pac-12 Championship Game. A win there would place them in the Rose Bowl, but a competitive loss could still keep them in line for a BCS game (pending their performance in the final week of the regular season).
Both teams have a lot to gain from a win.
USC Player to Watch: Matt Barkley, QB
The Trojans blew UCLA out last season, 50-0. Barkley passed for 423 yards and six touchdowns in the winning effort.
Marqise Lee was the recipient of 224 of those yards and a third of the touchdowns. Robert Woods hauled in 12 passes for 124 yards and another third of the touchdown passes.
This game will be all about passing the ball so all three of those will be the player to watch. Barkley's Heisman hopes faded this season, but Lee has been receiving press as a possible finalist.
Lee will want to further his stature while Barkley and Woods have a looming NFL draft to build towards.
UCLA Player to Watch: Johnathan Franklin, RB
So far this season Franklin has been held under 100 yards just three times. He's rushed for over 1,250 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per carry with eight touchdowns.
He's added 276 receiving yards and two more touchdowns, getting him over 1,500 yards from scrimmage.
He was held to 55 yards last season on just eight attempts. The Bruins need to keep Franklin involved in this game, as they don't have the firepower in the passing game to shoot it out with USC.
Prediction: USC 41, UCLA 34
This will be a high-scoring, exciting game, but the Trojans have too much offensive strength.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see a few big plays decide the outcome. USC likes to pressure the quarterback and force mistakes while collecting sacks. A forced turnover could make the difference in this game.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.
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