Play It Forward Oct. 19-25: UCLA, USC have the second half to attempt a regroup

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

Illustration by Jim Thompson/www.sportsbronze.com

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK 8:
UCLA vs. CAL
Details/TV: At the Rose Bowl, Thursday at 6 p.m., ESPN
USC vs. UTAH

Details/TV: At the Coliseum, Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Channel 11:
Half the 12-pack has been chugged for these two L.A. college football Pac-12 anchors. One manages to stay fairly upright, precariously at 4-2, but stumbling in their last two. The other looks somewhat punch drunk at 3-3 … and they’ve already picked a designated driver for the rest of the season.

UCLA defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa sacks Cal sophomore quarterback Jared Goff during the Bruins' 36-24 win over the Bears last season. (Austin Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

UCLA defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa sacks Cal sophomore quarterback Jared Goff during the Bruins’ 36-24 win over the Bears last season. (Austin Yu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Both are back home to start the second half of the season – six more games guaranteed, with a rewards program that promises at least a seventh (a variety of bowl options).
Although the Bruins, in their first week out of the Top 25, may be averaging a decent 34.8 points a game, that’s only eighth-best in the conference. Their next mid-week opponent, the 20-ranked and 5-1 Bears, are putting up 40.2 points, and quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for 17 touchdowns (150 for 225, 1970 yards). Five of his nine interceptions, however, came in the Bears’ last game, a 30-24 loss at Utah. UCLA knocked off Goff and Cal last year, 36-34, when Marcus Rios picked off a Goff pass at the 2-yard line with 51 seconds left.

Travis Wilson celebrates with Utah fans after throwing a 1-yard TD pass with 8 seconds left to beat USC, 24-21, in Salt Lake City (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Travis Wilson celebrates with Utah fans after throwing a 1-yard TD pass with 8 seconds left to beat USC, 24-21, in Salt Lake City (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

As for those unbeaten 6-0 Utes, who’ve crept up to No. 3 in the polls –they;ve been getting it done with running back Devontae Booker, who leads the nation with 161 rushing attempts, and the steady hand of quarterback Travis Wilson, the senior from San Clemente who has got the job done despite missed a game and a half with a bad left shoulder. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, one of the many named thrown out as a possibility to be the next USC head coach, seems to be benefiting mightily from having 68-year-old Dennis Erickson on his staff as an assistant head coach.
As things go, USC has to face Cal the following week (on Halloween) while UCLA gets Utah on Nov. 21 (the Saturday before Thanksgiving). Until then, a toast to the second half of the season.

ALSO THIS WEEK:
The NL Championship series between the Cubs and Mets moves to Wrigley Field for Games 3-5 (Tuesday-Thursday), while the AL Championship series goes to Toronto with the Royals in position to sweep (Monday-Wednesday) … The Galaxy finishes the MLS regular season in Kansas City on “Decision Day” (Sunday, 4 p.m., TWC SportsNet) … The Clippers (Staples Center, Tuesday) and Lakers (Honda Center, Thursday) give Golden State a couple more practice games as the NBA exhibition season finishes up … More at this link.

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