Weekly Q&A: USC

UCLA has lost two straight games to USC and is a 16-point underdog in this weekend’s edition of the crosstown rivalry. The Bruins are one win away from bowl eligibility and have two weeks to get it between Saturday’s game at 5 p.m. at the Coliseum and next Friday’s matchup against Cal at the Rose Bowl. If you have UCLA football questions, leave them in the comments below — or shoot me an email at thnguyen(at)scng(dot)com — and I’ll post answers THURSDAY.

First look: UCLA at USC

USC quarterback Sam Darnold (14) in the second half of a NCAA college football game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. USC Trojans won 36-14. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

UCLA (5-5, 3-4 Pac-12) at No. 11 USC (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12)
Saturday, Nov. 18 | 5 p.m. PT | L.A. Coliseum
Radio: AM 1150 or AM 570

Scouting report

USC sewed up its second Pac-12 South title in three years last weekend with its 38-24 win over Colorado. The Trojans built up a commanding 27-0 lead before giving up 14 straight points in the third quarter, which injected a fleeting moment of drama into the battle between the two previous Pac-12 South champions.

While winning three straight games since a demoralizing loss to Notre Dame, quarterback Sam Darnold has thrown for 906 yards and seven touchdowns, completing 63 percent of his passes. Running back Ronald Jones is also surging with 184 rushing yards per game in the past three games.

The Trojans leads the Pac-12 in sacks (36), but UCLA just neutralized Arizona State, which entered last week’s game as the second-leading sack team in the Pac-12. The Bruins didn’t give up a single sack last week for the first time in a game this season.

UCLA hasn’t won a conference game on the road in two years while the Trojans have a 15-game home winning streak. Continue reading “First look: UCLA at USC” »

UCLA-USC gets prime-time TV slot

UCLA Bruins offensive lineman Andre James (75) and USC Trojans defensive end Porter Gustin (45) in action in the third quarter of a game played on November 19, 2016, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

UCLA’s rivalry game with USC was the No. 1 pick for next weekend’s games by the Pac-12’s TV partners, so the two L.A. teams will kick off at 5 p.m. PT on ABC on Nov. 18 at the L.A. Coliseum, the conference announced Saturday.

Game times are usually announced 12 days in advance, but the Pac-12 had pushed UCLA’s game time to six-day selection with three other conference games, meaning TV partners could line up kick off times based on the results of this weekend’s games. USC won the Pac-12 South by beating Colorado on Saturday while UCLA beat Arizona State at home.

California and Stanford’s rivalry game was the second pick, getting the 5 p.m. slot on FOX. Utah at Washington was the third selection at 7:45 p.m. on ESPN, while Arizona at Oregon was left on Pac-12 Networks at 4 p.m.

UCLA football 2017 schedule preview: USC

USC celebrates after winning the Rose Bowl over Penn State. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News / SCNG)

Saturday, Nov. 18 | L.A. Coliseum

USC returned to the national stage with an epic record-setting Rose Bowl shootout. The Trojans aren’t willing to stop there.

“Of course (the College Football Playoff) is something we want to get to,” receiver Deontay Burnett said on the first day of spring practice.

With Sam Darnold at quarterback, the Trojans (10-3, 7-2 Pac-12 last year) are the favorite to win the Pac-12 Championship Game. Darnold is a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy after leading the Trojans to their first Rose Bowl victory since the 2008 season and is eager to build on his success.

“I’m past the Rose Bowl,” said Darnold, who passed Vince Young for the Rose Bowl record for total offense with 473 total yards. “People know me from the Rose Bowl, but I feel I have a lot more to prove as a player and person.”

Game storylines Continue reading “UCLA football 2017 schedule preview: USC” »