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USC-UCLA matchup: A game when anything can happen

Brett Hundley is trying to become the fourth UCLA quarterback with multiple wins over USC.

November 29, 2013|By Gary Klein and Chris Foster
  • UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley led the Bruins to a 383-28 victory over USC last season.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley led the Bruins to a 383-28 victory over USC… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

USC and UCLA meet at the Coliseum in a renewal of a cross-town rivalry that annually determines bragging rights. Staff writers Gary Klein and Chris Foster examine the story lines:

Passing fancy

UCLA's Brett Hundley will try to join an exclusive club. Only three Bruins starting quarterbacks have multiple victories over USC.

Cade McNown won four (1995-98), Wayne Cook two (1994-1995) and Paul Cameron two (1951, 1953).

Five USC starting quarterbacks have won three UCLA games: Matt Barkley (2009-11), Matt Leinart (2003-05), Carson Palmer (2000-02), Jim Powers (1947-49) and Grenny Lansdell (1937-39). Five other USC quarterbacks have won two UCLA games.

Hundley passed for 234 yards and a touchdown last season in the Bruins' 38-28 victory over USC. He also rushed for two touchdowns.

Special delivery

What might USC fullback Soma Vainuku do next?

The redshirt sophomore has blocked three kicks, including two that led directly to a touchdown and a safety. Last week, he also played tailback and ran for a 52-yard touchdown against Colorado.

"Getting a long run for a touchdown was a highlight of my life," Vainuku said. "That was a game to remember."

Vainuku credits special teams coach John Baxter for putting him and other players in the right spots. "It just kind of flows and we have fun with it," he said. "That's why I think we're so successful."

Tightening up

USC tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer, who have been slowed by injuries, are once again important weapons, just in time to face UCLA.

"It's been a rough season for us," Grimble said. "But we fought through it, and it's good to catch balls and do what I can do."

Grimble caught a career-best six passes against Colorado, including four for 25 yards during one scoring drive. Telfer caught a touchdown pass, his first reception in six games.

Telfer said offensive coordinator Clay Helton "threw me a bone — he knew I wanted to get into the end zone really bad. Before the play was even snapped, I knew it was wide open. I just waited for eye contact with the quarterback."

Coliseum blues

UCLA has not won in the Coliseum since 1997, when Hundley was 4 years old.

The Bruins have been outscored, 259-62, in those seven losses. But this has been a season of ending such streaks.

UCLA had lost its last four games at Nebraska before defeating the Cornhuskers, 41-21, in September.

After not scoring a touchdown in three previous visits to the state of Utah, the Bruins defeated Utah, 34-27, in October.

UCLA had not won in Tucson since 2003 before beating Arizona, 31-26, in November.

No biggy (or biggies)

Of USC's 41 offensive touchdowns, 14 have covered 30 or more yards. The Trojans have nine offensive touchdowns of 50 or more yards.

So UCLA's defense has a very specific mandate from coordinator Lou Spanos.

"USC cannot have explosive plays," Spanos said. "We have to make them go the long way because they are a talented group all the way around."

UCLA's defense has given up only four touchdowns of 30 or more yards.

Crowd safety

The last time USC played at the Coliseum, several people were taken to hospitals by ambulance after the crowd stormed the field following the Trojans' 20-17 upset victory over Stanford.

A USC athletic department spokesman said there would be an increased presence of security personnel for Saturday's game. Fans are not allowed on the field and are urged to abide by announcements made before and during the game, the spokesman said.; Twitter: @latimesklein; Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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