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USC Trojans at UCLA Bruins

December 01, 2006

USC (-13.5) at UCLA

When USC has the ball

USC (10-1, 7-1 PAC-10) doesn't have the most explosive offense in the country, but if you watched last week's game against Notre Dame, you might have thought John David Booty was the Heisman candidate and not Brady Quinn.

Booty threw three touchdowns and ran for another in USC's 44-24 victory over the Irish. Booty did throw two interceptions, but none in the second half, and he is brimming with confidence heading into this game.

Almost any signal caller in the nation would be confident with the Trojans cast of receivers. Dwayne Jarrett is playing like a man among boys right now, coming down with any balls in his vicinity. Steve Smith is not as flashy, but just as productive.

Freshman running back, C.J. Gable is getting the bulk of the carries and making the most of them. At 190 pounds, he looks slight, but he is not easy for defenders to take down. The team also likes to use Chauncey Washington when they need a short conversion or are down by the goal-line.

The UCLA run defense is ranked 14th in the country, and they have done a good job for most of the year. However, the USC offense is very balanced right now, and is keeping opposing defenses on their toes. It is very likely that Booty will throw first to set up the run, a good strategy against the Bruins.

When UCLA has the ball

UCLA's (6-5, 4-4 PAC 10) offense has been pretty ordinary both rushing the ball and through the air.

Quarterback, Ben Olson has not played since October 7th versus Arizona after tearing a ligament in his knee. The Bruins were 3-1 under Olson, 4-1 if you count the Arizona game.

Patrick Cowan has been at the helm the last six games, going 2-4. That includes a narrow loss to Notre Dame in South Bend. Olson and Cowan have been splitting reps with the first team offense, and there is no decision yet on who will be the starter.

One thing for sure, whoever plays quarterback is not necessarily going to get a lot of help from the running game. Junior, Chris Markey has 912 rushing yards on the year, but only one 100-yard game in the Pac-10, and there have been some big clunkers in there.

For example, Markey had 32 yards versus Notre Dame, 22 versus Washington State, 40 against Arizona, and 49 against Arizona State.

The USC defense is playing much better now than their overall statistics suggest, and if they are not concerned about the running game, they will tee-off on whoever the UCLA quarterback is.

The Trojans did a good job containing Brady Quinn last week when it mattered, and UCLA certainly doesn't have a Brady Quinn. That spells trouble for the Bruins' offense.

Game Summary

This may qualify as a road game for USC, but there will be plenty of Trojan fans at the Rose Bowl, and they will be fired up.

The history of this series has USC winning handily at home in 2003 and last year, but the 2004 road game was close at 24-19. In all, UCLA has lost seven straight games to USC, not much of a rivalry.

USC also has all the motivation in the world in this game, and their players have not had many letdowns in the Pete Carroll era. Carroll will have his team "pumped and jacked" as he likes to say, and we will then get to see a great match-up against Ohio State in the BCS championship game.

Prediction: USC 31, UCLA 14

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