USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins Pick 12/12/20
USC Trojans (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. UCLA Bruins (3-2 SU, 4-1 ATS)
College Football Week 15
Date and Time: Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
Point Spread: USC -3.5/UCLA +3.5 (GTBets - Credit cards work for deposits there! They’ll give you a 100% bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500! REAL CASH bonus, not match play!)
Over/Under Total: 62
The USC Trojans take on the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. It looks like UCLA has narrowed the gap this season, as a team that has struggled massively in recent seasons is starting to see some progress in Chip Kelly’s third season at the helm. A nice 25-18 win on the road against Arizona State on Saturday was their second win in a row, as they now set their sights on the Trojans. On Sunday, USC played in a postponed game with Washington State, winning handily, 38-13, to go to 4-0. Which hometown team can cover the number on Saturday?
A Quick Look Back
On the west coast, the “Crosstown Rivalry,” “The Crosstown Showdown,” the “Battle of LA,” or whatever you want to call it, is one of the main long-standing rivalries in college football. It’s also fair to say that, to a large extent, you can throw the records out. Despite the Trojans having the far more-accomplished program in the last three decades, the Bruins have won 13 times in that period and four of the last eight. After winning in ’18, UCLA lost last season’s battle, 52-35. In that one, the Bruins just came out on the short end of a massive aerial display from both teams, with UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson throwing for 367 yards, while USC slinger Kedon Slovis went for 515 yards on the day.
A New Bruins?
Success has been elusive for this program. They are always seemingly able to get offensive talent, but in Kelly’s first two seasons, the defense’s ineptitude is what stood out most. But in recent weeks, we’re seeing better. They did allow 38 to a home Oregon team a few weeks back, but in giving up 10 to Cal and Arizona and 18 to ASU shows a UCLA defense that has stepped up its form considerably, allowing what the offense does to resonate better. The biggest difference is the run-defense, as a Bruins’ defense that melted late, is now holding firm.
Getting some long-missing support of the other side of the ball could just be the thing Dorian Thompson-Robinson needs. DTR, a prodigiously-gifted athlete, is starting to see some things click. With 8 TDs and only two picks, while a constant threat to break loose a run, we are seeing the young QB make good use of his tools. And with DTR, Demetric Felton, and Brittain Brown, we see a run-game starting to really come together. He also taps into a vast depth of aerial weapons. But beyond his throwing and running talent is a certain presence he has gained, as the young field general is coming into his own.
When you take a Bruins’ team that has generally held up well in these games with the stakes so high now, an even better team, and at home, they’re going to be worth a look. There is this sneaking feeling that the Bruins can revert to their prior form at any given time. But while some of their opponents had issues that may have made the Bruins look better than they are, I don’t think we’re witnessing a mirage. The Bruins are not the doormat of years past.
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Matchup Concerns for the Bruins
For all their improvement on defense, the Bruins still don’t have a rigid pass-defense, and that’s something that could really manifest in this game. The Trojans saw their aerial-attack really take hold again last week, with Kedon Slovis throwing for five touchdowns. He has a vast toolbox of guys who know what it’s like to thrive in this offense, including Tyler Vaughns, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Stephen Carr, and others. They can really crank it up, and Slovis has put up ridiculous numbers on occasion, including the 515 he put up last season against the Bruins. He might not get that much this time around, but this does set up for a good day for the Trojans’ passing game. He did leave the game on Sunday, with Matt Fink coming in to replace him, so we’ll watch his status leading up to game-time.
The Bruins will also find bad news on what’s happening on the other side of the ball for the Trojans. After a rocky start to the season where both Arizona schools exploited the defense to varying extents, the Trojans have fared well defensively the last two weeks. That could partially be due to playing a pair of teams in Utah and Washington State who are a little off-kilter with all the virus-related cancellations and the mass personnel movement.
Food For Thought
When a team fights as endlessly as the Bruins seemingly have in getting onto the road of respectability, they can be hard to dissuade. This is a much better Bruins team, and even the ones that weren’t that good are usually hell on the Trojans in this game. There is a lot of history here, and these youngsters usually provide an effort befitting the magnitude of the event. If you look at how hard the Trojans struggled against Arizona State and Arizona, two teams the Bruins just beat, a competitive game makes that much more sense.
Take the Home Dog
I think the current state of Utah and Washington State have perhaps made the Trojans look a bit better than they are. It’s true, the same high-powered offense that tore through the Bruins last season could surface here, but I think upgrades on both sides of the ball for the Bruins put them right in this game. A win here would be a crowning moment, and while a lot is riding on the Trojans this week, including their unbeaten record, I see a game that comes down to the end where having the points will feel good. I like the Bruins in this one.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the UCLA Bruins plus 3.5 points. This is a tough game to bet. You might want to consider watching a quarter and getting a feel for the game. Then you can jump into the action and take the guessing out of the equation. The best in-game wagering can be found at Bovada Sportsbook.