Chris Dufresne’s UCLA-USC prediction: Too close to call (almost)
USC offense vs. UCLA defense
Despite all that five-star talent, the Trojans rank No. 58 nationally in scoring offense at 27.5 points a game, and can expect stiff resistance against a UCLA defense giving up only 20 points a game.
UCLA offense vs. USC defense
Oregon and Stanford gashed USC’s defense with relentless running games that put the Trojans on their heels. To win, UCLA needs to control the ground and then be ready to pass when the defense creeps up.
The kicking advantage belongs to UCLA with Kai Forbath leading the nation in field goals and Jeff Locke ranking ninth (44 yards a kick) in punting.
Pete Carroll is 7-1 against UCLA and 1-0 against Rick Neuheisel, but USC’s coach doesn’t seem as invincible as he did only a month ago, opening an inspirational window for Neuheisel to pull off an upset.
A weird bounce, a tipped pass, a botched instant-replay call and UCLA’s man in the booth, Norm Chow, whose play-calling against a fractured USC defense will be the game inside the game.
Prediction: USC 21, UCLA 18