Play It Forward Sept. 21-27: How to beat the heat? UCLA, USC zone in on AZ

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK 4:
NO. 9 UCLA at NO. 16 ARIZONA
Details/TV: Saturday at 5 p.m., Channel 7:

How smooth is the sailing so far for UCLA? Bruins defensive back Denzel Fisher holds up a play card with a photo of Michael Jackson on it during Saturday's win against BYU at the Rose Bowl. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

How smooth is the sailing so far for UCLA? Bruins defensive back Denzel Fisher holds up a play card with a photo of Michael Jackson on it during Saturday’s win against BYU at the Rose Bowl. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew has decided to bear down and make this trip to Tuscon and see what the noise is all about between these two 3-0 programs. For UCLA, it’s the fourth straight year it has won their first three under head coach Jim Mora. Back in 2012, they got tripped up in their Pac-12 opener against visiting Oregon State in Week 4. The next season, they ran off to a 5-0 start before losing in back-to-back weeks of Pac-12 play. A year ago, they began 4-0 until back-to-back home conference losses blindsided them. The Bruins know they posted a critical 17-7 win against Rich Rodriguez’s team at the Rose Bowl last November, a victory for the defense considering Arizona was scoreless for the final 57 minutes and limited to 255 yards in offense — nearly 287 below their season average. UCLA running back Paul Perkins, who had 26 carries and 219 yards in the win over BYU last Saturday night, grinded out 78 yards on 21 carries and a TD in that one against the Wildcats. Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon, a freshman a year ago, completed just 18 of 48 passes in that game for 178 yards and a TD. In three games during his sophomore year, Solomon has 10 TD passes, no interceptions and helped the Wildcats post 163 points in the three wins. Hey, for what it’s worth — Rodriguez is 0-3 against Mora in head-to-head battles over their careers in Pac-12 play.

NO. 19 USC at ARIZONA STATE
Details/TV: Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN:
Wanna get away? Surely there’s a local airline that has some good fares for some fairly upset Trojan fans who might want to cool off in the heat of the Phoenix desert. “this could be a turning point in the season,” USC quarterback Cody Kessler said after a 41-31 loss last Saturday the Coliseum, the Trojans’ third home game in three weeks to start the season. The turn will be south and east, toward Arizona, against a program that beat the Trojans on a 46-yard Hail Mary TD pass last season. Sun Devils redshirt senior quarterback and Taft High grad Mike Bercovici, suffering from cramps, threw for 510 yards and five TDs against USC in just his second start, producing a 38-34 win.  “I’ll be honest, it was a little bit of a prayer,” said Bercovici afterward. “I just immediately fell to the floor. It was an indescribable feeling. I’ve got people telling me, `Get up, get up, get up!’ But all I wanted to do was run upstairs to my mom and give her a big hug.”

ALSO THIS WEEK:
MLB: DODGERS vs. ARIZONA
Details/TV: At Dodger Stadium, Monday-Thursday, SportsNet L.A., ESPN:
The NL West could, in theory, be clinched by the time this homestand winds down. And the Vin Scully bobblehead giveaway on Wednesday is a nice way send the fans home happy. But we’ll also give a nod to Zack Greinke’s next scheduled opportunity to rack up a win (which would be his 19th) and lower his ERA (which ballooned to 1.65 after his last start against Pittsburgh).  …

MORE THIS WEEK:
The Santa Anita autumn meet starts Saturday with the Zenyatta Stakes, featuring Beholder … The Angels have a chance to make up some ground in Houston (Monday-Wednesday) …The Sparks are alive in the WNBA playoffs for one more game on Tuesday … More at this link.

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