USC vs. UCLA: Classic sell-out rivalry at Saturday’s Rose Bowl

PASADENA, California– Defense has been in short supply in the last three encounters between Southern California and UCLA in the Crosstown Showdown, and that is expected to be the case again on Saturday during a much-anticipated inter-school matchup in Los Angeles.

The seventh-ranked Trojans and the No. 16 Bruins have two of the top three attacks in the Pac-12. They have combined for 81.9 points and 1,003.5 yards per game this season.

The odds of an offensive shootout are further increased by the fact that USC and UCLA have combined at least 81 points in their last three encounters.

“I’d be shocked if this wasn’t one of the higher-scoring games we’ve seen in college football this year,” said Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt, who will name Saturday’s game.

USC (9-1, 7-1 Pac-12) can advance to the conference title game on December 2 with a win and would also improve their chances of promotion to the College Football Playoffs. UCLA (8-2, 5-2) would be eliminated with a loss.

The teams have different attacking styles. USC’s Caleb Williams ranks third nationally with 31 touchdown passes and 12th with 301 yards per game. Jordan Addison is second in the conference with seven TD receptions despite missing two games.

The Trojans’ passing game could take more strain this week after running back Travis Dye picked up an ankle injury in last week’s season-ending win over Colorado.

Williams declined this week to engage in an argument with UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who said that “we hate these guys around town.”

Williams said on Wednesday: “I wasn’t focused on them, except their defense. When you start rushing things that you normally wouldn’t do, bad things start to happen.”

UCLA has one of the best rushing rushes in the nation, averaging 240.1 yards per game. Zach Charbonnet leads the conference with 1,145 yards and has six straight 100-yard games.

The Bruins are 21-5 in Chip Kelly’s five seasons when rushing for at least 200 yards.

“UCLA has as good a running game as most college footballers. They’ll be able to lean on their big, physical backs,” Klatt said.


Austin Jones is expected to be the first option to take on Dye, who accounted for almost half of USC’s rushing yards and 43% of his carry.

Jones, a Stanford transfer, had 74 yards against Colorado last week after Dye’s injury. In two career games against the Bruins, he has rushed for 108 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Newcomers Raleek Brown and Darwin Barlow could also see increased times.

“Travis is a great player and we’re all hurt that he won’t be there, but he will be there emotionally and he’s still a big part of this team,” center Brett Neilon said. “We have Raleek, Darwin, Austin. You will do great work. Obviously there is a lot of talent there. We will keep hammering.”

Rivalry Awareness

The Crosstown Showdown is new to much of USC’s coaching staff and to a roster that’s been built extensively through the transfer portal. But the ferocity of the rivalry game was immediately clear to the Trojans, who have seen banners and placards around campus throughout the week urging them to win, particularly revenge after last season’s disaster.

“I’ve definitely thought about coming to a new city,” said Addison, the Biletnikoff Award winner who joined USC from Pitt. “I know it’s a big game for this city and people have been talking about it, so I’m starting to get the feeling.”


Despite last week’s loss to Arizona, UCLA still has a narrow path to the Pac-12 championship game for the first time since 2012.

The Bruins would have to beat the Trojans first and win in California next week to even stand a chance.


USC scored 115 points in the three games before visiting woeful Colorado last week, so the Trojans’ defensive deficiencies are clearly their biggest concern and UCLA’s biggest opportunity. With FBS firing leader Tuli Tuipulotu at the helm, the Trojans’ primary goal will be to contain Thompson-Robinson as well as Arizona did last week.

“DTR, you can see he’s very comfortable back there so we need to put some pressure on him,” USC cornerback Calen Bullock said. “That has to be one of our main goals as a defence.”


UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu, who is second in the Pac-12 with eight sacks and has two multi-sack games. He’s also sixth in the conference with 9 1/2 tackles for loss.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. USC vs. UCLA: Classic sell-out rivalry at Saturday’s Rose Bowl

Laura Coffey

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