The USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins square off in the battle for the Victory Bell on Saturday evening. USC won with ease last year, as they torched the Bruins for a 52-35 win. They got to paint the Victory Bell red after UCLA won for the first time since 2014 in 2018. The Trojans lead the all-time series with a record of 50-32-7. They’ve dominated since 1999, with 16 wins in 21 games.
UCLA three-peated from 2012 to 2014, as they caught USC during a really low-point in their program’s history. UCLA wasn’t really anything special then, but they took advantage of a bad Trojans team and won three straight games. This season we’re talking about an even matchup between USC and UCLA. The 2020 version of this rivalry has me more excited than in a long time.
Chip Kelly has some work left to do at UCLA, but he certainly has the Bruins heading in the right direction. The Bruins head into Saturday with a record of 3-2. That doesn’t sound fantastic, but there’s something here to build on next year in a full season. Kelly has something special with Dorian-Thompson Robinson, but we’ll see if DTR reaches his full potential. Next season is going to be the make or break season for him.
It’s hard to judge a quarterback that is playing a limited schedule during this kind of campaign. When things return to some form of normalcy in 2021, it’s going to feel like college football is finally back. This season has just felt weird and a bunch of exhibition games slapped together, especially in the Pac-12 which started so late. They’re still going through with a conference championship, though.
DTR must have a big game tonight, or UCLA is not going to keep up with Kedon Slovis and the Trojans. Slovis shows a lot of promise and is likely already catching the attention of NFL scouts as a 19-year-old sophomore. He doesn’t get the attention like a Trevor Lawrence or Kyle Trask does, but Slovis has a world of talent. We’ll see what he can do against the UCLA defense on Saturday. Head below for our free USC vs. UCLA pick for December 12, 2020.
USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins NCAAF Betting Odds:
USC vs. UCLA Prediction:
Kedon Slovis has been one of the most accurate passers in the FBS this season. Slovis is connecting at an impressive rate of 72.1%. He has thrown 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions through four games. Slovis is coming off a monster performance for 5 touchdowns and 287 yards against Washington State. He padded his stats in a 38-13 win. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Drake London have been an impressive duo for USC. St. Brown is coming off a mammoth four-touchdown performance against the Cougars.
The only disappointment for USC has been on the ground. While Slovis has been getting it done through the air, Stephen Carr and company have been quiet. That’s not to say Carr or another running back couldn’t have a big game against a mediocre run defense of the Bruins. UCLA has conceded 143.6 yards per game on the ground.
USC has been moving the ball with 424.5 yards per game going into Saturday. I have confidence in Slovis being motivated to put together a big performance tonight. He has been largely ignored by the media, but this is a nice opportunity in the spotlight for once in 2020.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson could have really done big things with a full season in 2020. It has to be frustrating for him, but this campaign is setting up what could be a huge year for him as a senior next season. DTR has thrown for 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and 57.8% completions. If he can improve his accuracy, then the sky is going to be the limit for him.
His ability on the ground as a runner is what consistently puts the Bruins over the top. DTR has gained 210 yards and 3 touchdowns on 5.8 yards per carry. UCLA has averaged 430.6 yards and 32.6 points per game in five games. I think this is going to be a tight game between the Trojans and Bruins. The way I see it, Slovis and DTR are going to take the spotlight on Saturday night. That should lead to a 37-34 or 38-31 game for the Victory Bell.