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USC-UCLA FOOTBALL

Chris Dufresne's UCLA-USC prediction: Too close to call (almost)

The Times' national college football writer sees it as an even game. He does pick a winner, but you'll have to read on to learn which team he tabs.

November 28, 2009

USC offense vs. UCLA defense

Despite all that five-star talent, the Trojans rank No. 58 nationally in scoring offense at 27.5 points a game, and can expect stiff resistance against a UCLA defense giving up only 20 points a game.

UCLA offense vs. USC defense

Oregon and Stanford gashed USC's defense with relentless running games that put the Trojans on their heels. To win, UCLA needs to control the ground and then be ready to pass when the defense creeps up.

Special teams

The kicking advantage belongs to UCLA with Kai Forbath leading the nation in field goals and Jeff Locke ranking ninth (44 yards a kick) in punting.

Coaching

Pete Carroll is 7-1 against UCLA and 1-0 against Rick Neuheisel, but USC's coach doesn't seem as invincible as he did only a month ago, opening an inspirational window for Neuheisel to pull off an upset.

Intangibles

A weird bounce, a tipped pass, a botched instant-replay call and UCLA's man in the booth, Norm Chow, whose play-calling against a fractured USC defense will be the game inside the game.

Prediction: USC 21, UCLA 18

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