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City Rivalry. Previewing this Saturday's USC vs UCLA battle

The Trojan Shrine on USC campus
c/o: Hunter Dworsky, College Football Dawgs President

Rivalry games are always a special matchup. Records seem to go out the window and the games are usually a knockdown fight between the two rivals. Although conference rivalry games are fun to watch, the rivalries that are the battles are in-state rivals. In the case of USC and UCLA, they are one of the few rivalries where the schools are in the same city. The games are always intense. Last season the Trojans escaped with a 48-45 win. This season, both schools enter battling for better bowl games with USC at

7-4 (5-3 in Pac-12) and UCLA 6-4 (3-4 in Pac-12) this game can play a factor in overall standings in the conference.

Will Caleb Williams and the Trojans end the season with a statement win against their arch-rivals in their final meeting in the Pac-12 before both move to the Big 10 Conference? Will Laiatu Latu and the Bruins' defense be able to keep the Trojans' offense in check and minimize their scoring? Previewing the USC vs UCLA battle, let's take a look at some key areas to watch.

Quarterback - Caleb Williams vs Ethan Garbers. In almost a David v Goliath matchup defending Heisman winner Williams leads the Trojans' offense Ethan Garbers who has been inconsistent and battled injuries all season. With Williams, the talent is impressive he's led the offense and put up very impressive numbers, currently second in the nation behind Micahel Penix Jr in passing yards with 3,249 and 29 touchdowns. He has shown the ability to make some big-time throws with 14 of his 29 scoring passes coming on throws of 20 or more yards. He's also shown above-average elusiveness to make defenders miss and extend and create plays with his legs, 350 yards, and 11 touchdowns as a runner this season. Garbers on the other hand, has shown flashes of being a good quarterback he's shown good arm strength and accuracy (68%) this season. Edge - USC Trojans. Williams is a very talented quarterback and has shown the ability to lead his team and score points. Inconsistencies with Garbers are worrisome.

Wide Receivers - Tahj Washington vs Logan Loya. While the receiving group for the Trojans is very talented and deep, Washington has emerged as the favorite target of Williams and the Trojans' offense. Currently leading the team with 915 yards and six touchdowns, he is enjoying his best season at the collegiate level. Versatile enough to stretch the field on vertical routes he has shown versatility to take the quick short pass and make defenders miss to gain yardage. For the Bruins, Loya has shown to be consistent for the offense, currently leading the team with 502 yards receiving. He's shown an above-average ability to work from the slot and make plays in and out of traffic. Edge - USC Trojans. The talent level aside, there is a lot more depth in the Trojans' offense. Brenden Rice and Mario Williams have been having equally impressive seasons for the Trojans.

Running Backs - Marshawn Lloyd vs Carson Steele. This group is tough, while Lloyd and Steele have emerged as the leaders in the backfield, they are not alone in their efforts. With Lloyd, the Trojans have a back that can run between the tackles but is also strong enough to break tackles and maximize yardage gained. Lloyd has earned 434 of his 799 yards after contact. Steele has been equally impressive for the Bruins earning 560 of his 743 yards after contact on the season. Both runners have benefitted the most from running to the outside and have been able to separate from defenders to gain yardage. Although Steele has shown more physicality to run and gain yardage between the tackles. Edge - USC Trojans. Although the Bruins have been a solid team running the ball, the duo of Lloyd and Autin Jones are a stronger pair than the Bruins.

Defense - Mason Cobb vs Laiatu Latu. This is a puzzling group for both, while the Trojans offense has been high-performing, their defense has been anything but. The Trojans have been able to put up points, but have surrendered a lot of points to make the offense have to score. For the Trojans, Cobb has been a tackling machine, currently fifth in the conference with 72 tackles. He's shown a good ability to cover sideline to sideline and helps in coverage as well. Jamil Muhammad has been a disruptive force for the Trojans' defense with six sacks and 22 pressures total. For the Bruins, Latu has made a living getting pressure on the quarterback and is currently second in the conference with 11 sacks on the season. He's shown the ability to make opponents miserable with 51 pressures on the season. Alex Johnson has been a standout for the Bruins defense leading the conference in interceptions (4). Edge - UCLA Bruins. While the Trojans' offense has been potent and high-scoring, the defense has been suspect at best and a weakness for the overall performance of the team.

Prediction - As I mentioned, records go out the window in rivalry games as the energy is always cranked up. That being said, sources have told College Football Dawgs that Caleb Williams intends to complete his collegiate career this weekend against UCLA, with an official announcement coming later in the month, sometime after Thanksgiving. I would expect the Trojans to play their best all-around game of the season and Williams to possibly end his Trojans career with a win against the Bruins. USC wins by two scores.


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