USC rushing offense vs. UCLA rushing defense:
The Trojans have been Tailback Who more than Tailback U this year. Leading rusher Marc Tyler has had stellar moments, as has Allen Bradford. But freshman Dillon Baxter traveled farther on a golf cart than he has on the field. The flip side is that UCLA's youth, inexperience and shoddy tackling have led to big days for running backs, though linebacker Akeem Ayers can have a dramatic impact on a game. Advantage: USC.
USC passing offense vs. UCLA's passing defense:
If Matt Barkley plays, the Trojans are more dangerous. Robert Woods has emerged as a big-play receiver. UCLA's secondary is hard to judge because the Bruins haven't been able to generate any kind of pass rush. Arizona State's Brock Osweiler, Arizona's Matt Scott and Washington State's Jeff Tuel all had career days passing against UCLA. Advantage: USC.
UCLA rushing offense vs. USC rushing defense
One thing the Bruins accomplished this season was improving their running game. Johnathan Franklin has topped 1,000 yards and needs 92 more to crack UCLA's single-season top 10. USC's top tackler is injured safety T.J. McDonald, which says a lot about the Trojans' defense. Advantage: UCLA.
UCLA passing offense vs. USC passing defense
The resistible force meets the movable object. UCLA ranks 116th in yards passing per game and 119th in passing efficiency. USC ranks 112th in passing defense. UCLA has 26 touchdown passes . . . the last three seasons. That's only one more than Barkley has this season. That said, Bruins quarterback Richard Brehaut is coming off his best passing performance, completing 33 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona State. Advantage: USC.
UCLA has exceptional special teams, from punter Jeff Locke to kicker Kai Forbath, who needs three field goals to establish an NCAA career record. Locke averages 45.7 yards per punt. Forbath has made 13 of 18 field-goal attempts this season, including all six of his tries inside the 40. USC's Jacob Harfman averages 40.9 yards a punt and kicker Joe Houston is nine for 12 inside the 40, though he converted from 45 yards — his longest of the season — last week against Notre Dame. Advantage: UCLA.
USC has owned this series for a decade, with the exception of the 13-9 2006 speed bump. Neither team has a great deal to play for since neither is bowl-eligible. UCLA missed an opportunity to take the town with the Trojans staggering from NCAA sanctions; this is a last chance. Coach Lane Kiffin surely doesn't want to finish his first season at USC with back-to-back losses to rivals Notre Dame and UCLA. Advantage: USC.
Rick Neuheisel vs. Lane Kiffin? That's the undercard. This is the third heavyweight bout between coaching legends Norm Chow, UCLA's offensive coordinator, and Monte Kiffin, USC's assistant head coach and defensive architect. Chow is 2-0, winning in the NFL (Tennessee over Tampa Bay in 2007) and last season when UCLA defeated the University of Tennessee. Worth noting, though: Chow's offenses put up a total of 32 points in those two games. Advantage: UCLA.
Pick: UCLA 24, USC 17 (OT).