First look: No. 22 UCLA at USC

UCLA running back Paul Perkins ran for 93 yards and a touchdown in the Bruins' 38-20 win over USC last November. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA running back Paul Perkins ran for 93 yards and a touchdown in the Bruins’ 38-20 win over USC last November. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

No. 22 UCLA Bruins (8-3, 5-3) at USC (7-4, 5-3)
Saturday, Nov. 28, 12:30 p.m., L.A. Memorial Coliseum
TV: ABC/ESPN2 (Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, Todd McShay)
Radio: AM 570 (Bill Roth, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Scouting report: A win over UCLA might not guarantee interim coach Clay Helton the full-time job, but a loss likely ends his chances. … USC’s defense is coming off a dreadful performance against Oregon, one in which it allowed six touchdown passes and 16.3 yards per pass attempt. The Trojans are allowing opponents to complete 63.8 percent through the air, the second-worst mark in the Pac-12 (ahead of Oregon State’s 67.9). … USC lost all-conference center Max Tuerk for the season as well as Toa Lobendahn, the versatile sophomore who replaced him. Former four-star recruit Khaliel Rodgers now mans the position, but is playing through a shoulder injury. … Quarterback Cody Kessler isn’t finding the end zone as often as he did last season (39 touchdowns down to 25), but his numbers have otherwise remained steady. … The Trojans rank first in the Pac-12 and No. 13 nationally with a 0.91 turnover margin. However, they are -3 in their four losses.

Series history: USC leads the all-time series, 44-31-7, but UCLA has won the last three games by double digits. Jim Mora can be the first Bruin coach to win four straight since Terry Donahue had five from 1991-95.

Key players:

QB Cody Kessler, RSr., 6-1, 215 — 243/351, 2,953 yards, 25 TD, 6 INT
— He has seven touchdowns against one interception in his last three games, but he’s twice averaged fewer than 6.0 yards per attempt against Pac-12 opponents this season.

RB Ronald Jones II, Fr., 6-0, 185 — 122 carries, 827 yards, 7 TD
– The four-star recruit set a USC true freshman record with 177 rushing yards against Arizona. He’s raw, but his 6.78 yards per carry is tops among Pac-12 players with at least 100 touches.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, So., 6-2, 215 — 68 catches, 1,217 yards, 10 TD
– He’s been limited by hand and ankle injuries this month, but still has 261 yards on 16 catches in his last three games.

LB Su’a Cravens, Jr., 6-1, 225 — 70 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 INT
— He’s one of the best defensive players in the conference, but the linebacking corps are thin after season-ending injuries to freshman starter Cameron Smith and senior backup Lamar Dawson.

CB/WR/RET Adoree’ Jackson, So., 5-11, 185 — 23 tackles, 1 INT, 24 catches, 382 yards, 2 TD, 729 kick/punt return yards
– He’s the only FBS player to score a touchdown in all three phases of the game this season.

Line: USC opened as a 3.5-point favorite.

Opponent in GIF form:


Fun fact: In the 1940s, Tommy Walker pulled double duty as the USC band drum major and the football team’s kicker on extra-point conversions. “Tommy the Toe” later became Disneyland’s director of entertainment, and was involved planning of opening and closing ceremonies for three Olympics.

» Jim Mora praises Clay Helton’s interim stint at USC.
» A decade later after Reggie Bush’s college career, the former Trojan still looms over the USC-UCLA recruiting scene.
» Nearly 50 years ago, Gary Beban helped UCLA to its first ever win in the Rose Bowl Game.
» Columnist Tom Hoffarth takes a look back at some UCLA-USC anniversaries: Pts. I, II, III, IV.