No. 23 Southern Cal (9-3) will host No. 22 UCLA (8-3) on Saturday in the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Although the records and rankings of both teams are strikingly similar, they have taken radically different paths to get to this weekend.
The Bruins came out of the gate on fire to start the season. They won their first five games and were starting to work their way into the BCS title game conversation before losing their next two games.
The Bruins rebounded to win their next three, but will enter this showdown coming off of a disheartening 38-33 loss to Arizona State.
USC been much better since Kiffin was shown the door in favor of Ed Orgeron, having lost just once since his dismissal and winning five straight.
These two schools are battling not just for territorial bragging rights, but also to impress the bowl-selection committees.
When: Saturday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
TV Coverage: ABC
Spread: USC -3.5, via VegasInsider
All injury info via USA Today.
|Taylor Ross||RB||Out||knee surgery|
|Greg Townsend Jr||DL||Out||knee|
Key Storyline: Which offense will shine the brightest?
Both teams have tremendous balance on offense. Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley has thrown for more than 2,600 yards and has 22 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions. He's also run for 507 yards.
He is just one of the Bruins' many weapons in their running game as five different Bruins have rushed for at least 238 yards this season.
USC's stats are more modest, but the Trojans have been getting better as the season goes on. That starts with quarterback Cody Kessler. The sophomore has 15 touchdowns and six interceptions, including seven touchdowns and one interception over his last five games.
The Trojans can also churn out consistent yards on the ground, having gained 2,125 yards with an average of 4.7 yards per carry.
Defensively, both USC and UCLA are allowing an average of less than four yards per carry. USC has done a better job against the pass, allowing opposing quarterbacks a rating of 112.94 this season compared to quarterbacks compiling a 125.74 rating against UCLA, but given UCLA's more prodigious passing offense, that really just levels the playing field.
Both of these defenses will face a tough challenge on Saturday.
Prediction: USC 31, UCLA 27
After beating a Nebraska team that was ranked 23rd at the time of their Sept. 14 contest, the Bruins have since played three schools that were ranked at the time of their game and have lost them all.
Meanwhile, the Trojans are bursting with the confidence of a five-game winning streak that includes a win over Stanford when the Cardinal were ranked fourth.
That confidence will be enough to lead the Trojans to victory in a close game.
Stats via CFBStats.com.