UCLA Bruins vs. USC Trojans
Date and Time: Saturday, November 18, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
Opening College Football Odds: USC -15
UCLA vs. USC TV Coverage: ABC
The Trojans still have one major problem to overcome, that being a 49-14 loss in South Bend. Notre Dame is very likely going to have to lose one more time for USC to get past it, and even still, there's the matter of staying above the two losers of the Alabama/Georgia/Auburn troika, the loser of the ACC Championship Game and prospectively, Ohio State in the Big Ten.
Still, if all the chalk holds the rest of the way, Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma will be in the playoff, and there will be one spot left to fill. We're one slip by Ohio State against Michigan and a Notre Dame loss to Stanford away from that door being blasted wide open for the Men of Troy.
Also in fairness to USC, since its shellacking at Notre Dame, the results have been awesome. The team clocked Arizona State by 31 and Arizona by two touchdowns in a game that wasn't anywhere near that close. A 38-24 win at Colorado was workmanlike and got the job done, and a blowout is expected here against UCLA, too.
The Bruins had a bloodied Josh Rosen to thank for their 44-37 win over Arizona State last weekend. That ended a horrible 2-5 stretch that saw UCLA get crushed by Stanford, Arizona, Washington and Utah in four road games.
That, of course, is going to be something to note in this game. The Bruins are 0-5 SU and ATS on the road this year and 5-0 SU and 3-2 ATS at home. This game isn't far away from home in Pasadena, but it's an away game no less.
Matchup to Watch
Most are going to be focused on the battle between Rosen and Sam Darnold, potentially the top two picks in the NFL Draft in the Spring. That said, we're far more worried about Ronald Jones and whether the Bruins can figure out how to stop him or not.
It's truly amazing just how bad the UCLA front seven is. This team is allowing 302.3 rushing yards per game and had a respectable day at the office by its own standards last week against Arizona State in which it "only" allowed 295 rushing yards.
Jones has crushed it in his last three games, running for 552 yards and six touchdowns in that span. All of a sudden, the junior is up to 1,383 yards of total offense and 15 totals touchdowns this season, and he might be turning into the best offensive weapon this team has at its disposal.
UCLA vs. USC Free Picks
The matchup isn't a good one for UCLA, especially if Jones is going to get his hands on the ball 25 times in this one. That said, this is still a rivalry game, and if we've learned nothing else over the years, it's that the underdog rises up quite often and forces its "big brother" into a big game.
Though the Bruins aren't going to pull off this upset, USC isn't as good as its top-10 ranking is going to suggest. It's a deserving double-digit favorite in this game at all of the best college football sportsbooks, but we aren't all that sure that it should be laying this many points in a game of huge consequence to the Bruins. Remember that they need to win once more just to get into a bowl game. Motivation certainly shouldn't be lacking.
College Football ATS Pick: UCLA +15 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: USC 34, UCLA 24