No. 15 USC vs. UCLA

No. 15 USC vs. UCLA | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Written by on December 10, 2020

The college football battle for Los Angeles has big meaning for No. 15 Southern Cal as the Trojans will win the Pac-12 South Division and reach the conference title game with a victory over rival UCLA. USC is a short favorite on the NCAAF odds.

How to Bet USC at UCLA NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, 7:30 PM ET
  • Where: Rose Bowl
  • TV: ABC
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: USC -2.5 (total 62)

Last meeting

In 2019, USC won a 52-35 shootout over UCLA. Kedon Slovis passed for a school-record 515 yards and threw four touchdown passes in the win. Slovis and four 100-yard receivers carried the Trojans to the Victory Bell. Michael Pittman Jr. caught two touchdown passes and Vavae Malepeai rushed for two scores as the Trojans. Drake London and Tyler Vaughns also caught TD passes. Dorian Thompson-Robinson passed for 367 yards with TD throws to Demetric Felton, Devin Asiasi and Chase Cota for the Bruins.

USC leads the series with crosstown rival UCLA, 48-32-7 not including Troy’s 2004 and 2005 victories that were vacated due to NCAA penalty. UCLA only has been victorious 5 times in the last 21 meetings dating to 1999. Saturday equals the latest date (Dec. 12) that the Trojans and Bruins have met (also in 1942). The winner of the annual USC-UCLA football game gets year-long possession of the Victory Bell, a 295-pound bell off a freight locomotive.

Why Bet on USC? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

A win over the Bruins would see USC host next week’s Pac-12 Championship Game as the Pac-12 South representative and there are several other scenarios in which the Trojans could host even if they don’t win.

The Trojans (4-0) beat Washington State 38-13 last week as Amon-Ra St. Brown caught four touchdown passes from Kedon Slovis in a spectacular first quarter. Slovis threw five touchdown passes in the first half before finishing with 287 yards as the Trojans returned from a prolonged absence caused by a COVID-19 outbreak.

St. Brown made college football history with touchdowns on every one of his four catches in the opening quarter. Along with tying Robert Woods’ USC record for TD catches in a game, the junior receiver tied the FBS record for touchdowns scored in any quarter and joined Duke’s Corey Thomas in 1997 as the only players in FBS history with four touchdown catches in a quarter.

Tyler Vaughns caught the fifth TD pass by Slovis, who tied the school record held by Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Cody Kessler. Slovis, who is about to enter the school career passing Top 10 as just a sophomore, continues to lead the nation in completions and is in the Top 10 in completion percentage (a blazing 72%) and passing yardage.

USC’s defense has 12 takeaways this year to help the Trojans rank second in the nation in turnover margin (+1.5), with S Talanoa Hufanga already with 3 interceptions.

USC is looking to be 5-0 for the first time in 14 years. USC is 28-13-5 against unranked UCLA teams (not including 1 win vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record 29-13-5).

Why Bet on UCLA? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

UCLA (3-2) was an upset 25-18 winner at Arizona State last weekend. The Bruins jumped out to a 17-point lead, gave up 18 unanswered only to score with 69 seconds remaining as UCLA climbed over the .500 mark for the first time since 2017. After Arizona State took the lead with 4:26 remaining, UCLA (3-2) recorded an 11-play, 75-yard drive over the next 3:17 to go back in front.

QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson went 18-for-24 for 192 yards and a touchdown, while also running for 49 yards on 15 carries and another score. UCLA rushed for 171 yards as a team. Thompson-Robinson has at least one passing and rushing touchdown in all three of his games this season, and for the sixth time in his career.  Thompson-Robinson moved into 10th on the UCLA career charts in total offense (rush and pass yards), passing Kevin Prince (2009-12, 5,001) for 10th (5,179).

Defensively, Caleb Johnson had a very strong game with a career-best 10 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery, tying a personal best with 2.5 tackles for loss. UCLA forced multiple turnovers in a game for the first time since Oct. 13 and 20, 2018. The Bruins have forced five turnovers in the last two contests. Under head coach Chip Kelly, UCLA is +15 in turnover margin in wins and -25 in losses.

UCLA has outscored its opponent in the fourth quarter of all five games by a 36-9 margin, the best margin in the Pac-12. The Bruins have won their first two home games of 2020 over Cal and Arizona. The last time UCLA won three straight at home was in 2017 when it went 6-0 on Spieker Field at the Rose Bowl. UCLA has split its last four meetings with ranked opponents. The last time UCLA defeated a ranked USC squad was in 2014.

Game Trends

  • Trojans are 3-10-2 ATS in their last 15 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
  • Trojans are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games as a road favorite.
  • Trojans are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games in December.
  • Bruins are 4-1-2 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win.
  • Bruins are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
  • Bruins are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games as an underdog.

Expert Prediction

  • USC 34, UCLA 25
 
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