NCAA Football – Week 12
The USC Trojans beat UCLA by a score of 50-0 last season. That ridiculous beat down in this rivalry game may have been the last straw that sent Rick Neuheisel packing. Jim Mora Jr. is the new coach at UCLA, and he has instantly turned this team around in a big way. USC was the top ranked team in the nation going into the year, but they have had a disappointing year. No one is expecting a lopsided game this time around. USC is a four-point favorite heading into this big game.
Matt Barkley came back for a chance to win a NCAA Championship, but it just wasn’t in the cards. The Trojans lack of depth has really hurt them this year. USC is a very good team, but they aren’t quite the elite team that many expected. The offensive line has struggled against the best defensive fronts they have faced. Stanford got to Barkley far too often in their win against the Trojans. In recent games, the passing game has gotten better. USC still has the best two receivers in the nation in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Barkley has thrown 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The Trojans are averaging 36.9 points per game.
Monte Kiffin’s defense has been better most of the year, but they have been torched by the best offenses they have gone up against. Arizona put up 39 points and 588 yards of total offense against them. Oregon piled up 730 yards and 62 points against the Trojans. Overall, this unit is giving up 23.5 points per game. The secondary is extremely dinged up right now, so that is a real concern for them against UCLA this week.
What’s the biggest difference in this year’s UCLA team compared to last year? Brett Hundley is a major difference maker at the quarterback spot. Hundley may be a freshman, but he certainly doesn’t play like one. He has 24 passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns. Hundley was the missing ingredient last year, and having that dual threat quarterback leading the way has made this offense very dangerous. It doesn’t hurt that Johnathan Franklin is one of the best running backs in the nation. Franklin is averaging 6.4 yards per carry, and he already has 1,271 rushing yards this year. This is a balanced attack that is 13th in the nation in total offense in 2012.
Defensively, the Bruins still have some work to do. The front seven has been pretty good against the run, but the secondary has been a problem area. Washington State threw for 457 yards against the Bruins last week. Matt Barkley and this USC offense will definitely air it out, so the Bruins will have to make some adjustments if they are going to stay in this game.
Free Pick: USC -4
USC’s receivers are almost unstoppable, and UCLA’s secondary will be overmatched here. I don’t expect a blowout, but I do think USC gets a stop or two more than UCLA does.
USC 38 UCLA 30