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That's so last year

The Bruins were able to shock the heavily favored Trojans in 2006 by keeping the heat on Booty. Which coordinator will make the better adjustment today, with the Rose Bowl on the line?

December 01, 2007

The rematch

USC is a 20-point favorite in today's game, but the Trojans were big favorites last season too, and UCLA came away with a 13-9 victory.

Bruins fans can take hope from that -- and UCLA coaches can take a game plan.

The defensive scheme UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker devised for that game was executed to near perfection. The Bruins held USC to 55 yards rushing and defensive ends Bruce Davis and Justin Hickman pressured quarterback John David Booty throughout the game.

With Walker calling a mix of blitzes and the secondary locking in on receivers, USC converted only six of 17 third downs and was stuffed twice on fourth down.

Could it happen again? USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian might have gotten a jump on today's game with the way he used Booty last week against Arizona State. The senior was constantly on the move, rolling out and using play-action looks to pass for 375 yards and four touchdowns.

The offensive line also is more experienced, making it less apt to commit the false-start penalties that thwarted the Trojans last season.

By air, by ground

* By air, UCLA must stop Trojans tight end Fred Davis, who has 49 receptions for six touchdowns and averages 15.4 yards a catch. With no Dwayne Jarrett or Steve Smith in the receiving corps, the senior has served as Booty's go-to target and has boosted his NFL stock with displays of strength and athleticism after the catch.

* By ground, USC must stop Bruins running back Chris Markey, who rushed for 91 yards in 30 carries last week against Oregon. Markey had only 54 yards in 23 carries the previous four games, but he appears to be healthy after being slowed by an ankle sprain and turf toe.

Quick-strike threat

* UCLA's kickoff return team vs. USC's coverage -- One week after Arizona State's Rudy Burgess burned the Trojans with a 98-yard touchdown return, USC faces the prospect of trying to contain Matthew Slater, who has returned three kickoffs for touchdowns. And Slater would have four had officials not penalized the Bruins for throwing a forward pass on a trick play against Oregon. Slater ranks fifth nationally, averaging 30.9 yards a return.

Watch these hit men

* Bruce Davis, defensive end, UCLA: He has quickness, savvy and a motor that never stops. He also has a team-best 9 1/2 sacks.

* Rey Maualuga, linebacker, USC: Others have more tackles and more sacks, but no Trojans defender is regarded with more fear and is capable of more carnage.

* Taylor Mays, strong safety, USC: The 6-foot-4 sophomore is built like a linebacker or defensive end -- and hits like one.

* Christian Taylor, linebacker, UCLA: The Bruins' scheme makes their safeties the leading tacklers, but Taylor is third and also has 12 1/2 tackles for losses in 10 games.

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