USC vs. UCLA: How the Trojans and Bruins match up for their annual rivalry game

USC vs. UCLA: How the Trojans and Bruins match up for their annual rivalry game
USC running back Ronald Jones II has averaged 6.4 yards a carry during his college career. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA (5-5, 3-4) at USC (9-2, 7-1)

Saturday, 5 p.m., Coliseum, TV: Channel 7. Radio: 570, 710, 1150



Marquee matchup

USC tailback Ronald Jones II vs. the UCLA run defense. Jones’ career average of 6.4 yards per carry is higher than that of Trojans greats O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen, Mike Garrett and Charles White, albeit with fewer carries. Jones has been especially productive lately, averaging 184 yards rushing over the past three games. The Bruins might have found a template for winning even while giving up huge chunks of yardage on the ground. All it took was building a second-half lead against Arizona State last weekend for the Sun Devils to shift into more of a passing mode after trampling the Bruins for 201 yards rushing in the first half; they managed 93 yards rushing in the second half during UCLA’s 44-37 win.

Getting offensive

UCLA (462.5 ypg/35.2 ppg): Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s star appears to be on the rise. He’s called a dynamic blend of plays, including some well-timed trickery, to make the Bruins’ offense more than just star quarterback Josh Rosen. UCLA ran for a season-high 192 yards last week against Arizona State and the offensive line did not allow a sack.

USC (495.1 ypg/35.5 ppg): This could be quarterback Sam Darnold’s last game at the Coliseum, depending on whether he decides to enter the NFL draft. The Trojans have alternated between run-heavy and pass-heavy approaches in recent weeks, meaning Darnold could be the star or a footnote.

Getting defensive

UCLA (499.0 ypg/38.6 ppg): Jim Mora may not be the only one on the Bruins’ staff coaching for his job. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley could take the fall for a run defense that ranks last in the nation (302 ypg) and a total defense that ranks No. 123 out of 129 major college teams.

USC (401.6 ypg/29.3 ppg): The Trojans’ aggressive front seven has had lots of success pressuring quarterbacks, registering a Pac-12-best 36 sacks. Linemen Rasheem Green (eight sacks) and Christian Rector (7 1/2) both rank in the top 15 nationally in that category. Cornerback Jack Jones was shaky against Colorado last week, giving up pass plays of 79 and 57 yards that went for touchdowns.

Something special

It could be now or never for the UCLA return game, which has generated only 19.35 yards per kickoff return (ranking No. 100 in the nation) and 5.75 yards per punt return (No. 89). … USC kicker Chase McGrath was able to practice some this week after missing an extra point and a field goal against Colorado in the wake of a groin injury that kept him out of practice before the game.

Of note

UCLA is winless on the road this season, going 0-5. … USC is undefeated at home this season, going 6-0.

Injury report


UCLA safety Jaleel Wadood is likely to return after sitting out last week because of neck soreness and defensive end Jaelan Phillips is considered questionable because of a concussion. Bruins backup quarterback Devon Modster was still unable to grip a football midweek because of a non-displaced fracture in his throwing thumb. … USC cornerback Iman Marshall is expected to play a limited role after being sidelined by a sprained knee for most of the past four games.