November 19, 2017 / 5:46 AM / a month ago

Preview: UCLA at USC

USC has already clinched the Pac-12 South Division title, but the No. 10 Trojans should still have plenty of motivation against UCLA at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday evening. USC leads the all-time series 48-31-7 and has won the past two meetings and 14 of the past 18, but the Bruins are more desperate as they enter one victory shy of becoming bowl-eligible after missing out on the postseason last year.

USC quarterback Sam Darnold seems to have turned the corner after a rough first two months of the season. He has 12 touchdown passes and two interceptions in the past five games to improve to 18-3 as a starter for the Trojans. Darnold said after the 38-24 win against Colorado last weekend that he’s developed better rhythm with his receivers, and he’s spreading the ball around effectively too, hitting four different receivers for at least 59 yards last week. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is also playing better of late following a four-game stretch in which he threw eight touchdown passes, but was intercepted eight times.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: USC -16.

ABOUT UCLA (5-5, 3-4 Pac-12): Rosen should be fired up to play well against the Trojans after missing last season’s game with an injury and turning the ball over three times as a freshman in a 40-21 loss inside the Coliseum in 2015. Two of the top three receivers for the Bruins have had their seasons ended by injuries, leaving wide receiver Jordan Lasley as the prime target for Rosen. Lasley came off a three-game suspension last week and caught seven passes for a career-high 162 yards and a touchdown in a 44-37 win against visiting Arizona State.

ABOUT USC (9-2, 7-1): Don’t be surprised if the Trojans lean heavily on junior running back Ronald Jones II, who has combined for 183 rushing yards and two touchdowns in two games against UCLA. The Bruins continue to have the worst rushing defense in the FBS at 302.3 rushing yards allowed per game this season, and they gave up 294 last week against Arizona State. Jones hasn’t been slowing down of late either, piling up three of his four best rushing efforts on the season in the past three weeks and scoring six touchdowns.

EXTRA POINTS

1. USC has won 15 straight games at the Coliseum.

2. The Trojans have their bye next week, meaning they’ll finish their regular season at the earliest date since 2001.

3. UCLA is averaging 6.5 yards a play, its most since averaging 6.81 yards in 1998.

PREDICTION: UCLA 42, USC 41

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