The Pac-12 South division winner will be settled on Saturday when the UCLA Bruins host the USC Trojans. One of these teams will get to six conference wins in this match and clinch the division title.
The No. 17 Bruins (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) enter this contest ranked higher than No. 18 USC (7-3, 5-3) in the BCS Rankings.
The two teams trail three of their Pac-12 North rivals, but UCLA still has a chance to host the Pac-12 Championship Game.
If Oregon loses out, and UCLA can beat Stanford to close out the season, the Bruins and Cardinal will play for the Pac-12 title. Both schools would be 7-2 in Pac-12 play, and UCLA would host the the title game due to their head-to-head win.
Conjecture and speculation doesn't matter at this point. USC and UCLA are concerned with determining the South champion.
Here is the pertinent information for the matchup.
When: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3:05 p.m. ET
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Live Stream: Pac-12 Video
Spread: USC (-3.5) (via Bovada)
UCLA has had a better season thus far, but USC has played a more difficult schedule.
The Trojans have shown themselves as a team worthy of national acclaim when they played a tight game with Oregon. They also looked like a mediocre team when they lost to Arizona while turning the ball over five times.
As long as USC can hold onto the football they will be able to drive the field and score. This is a game the Trojans should win in a high-scoring battle.
Over/Under: 65.5 (via OddsShark)
This game should be a battle reminiscent of when both Los Angeles schools were elite football programs. Both offenses can move the ball, but the defensive units have been erratic.
It is impossible to project when one of these games will turn into a defensive struggle, such as the 2006 13-9 UCLA victory. However, it would be surprising to see that happen this weekend.
USC has the nation's No. 26 scoring offense while the Bruins are ranked 22nd. Both scoring defenses are ranked in the 40's.
This game should favor offense and hit the over.
Injury Report (USA TODAY as of Nov. 15 at 7:00 a.m. ET)
Silas Redd, RB, Probable (Ankle)
D.J. Morgan, RB, Questionable (Leg)
Aundrey Walker, T, Questionable (Neck)
Christian Thomas, TE, Questionable (Hip)
Cody Temple, DT, Out (Ankle)
David Garness, T, Out (Back)
Scott Starr, LB, Out (Neck)
Brian Baucham, CB, Out (Lung)
Greg Capella, C, Out (Concussion)
Devin Lucien, WR, Day-to-Day (Collarbone)
The winner of this game advances to the Pac-12 Championship Game to earn a shot at playing in the Rose Bowl.
It is possible the Bruins could get an at-large BCS invite if they beat USC and Stanford. If Oregon exits the title game at 13-0 and heads to the BCS National Championship Game, the Bruins would be an attractive option for the Rose Bowl.
Keys for USC Victory
Matt Barkley needs to have a huge day for the Trojans to win the South title.
UCLA's offense could have success almost to the scale of Oregon's matchup with USC, meaning the Trojans need to score early and often.
Last season, Barkley completed 35-of-42 passes for 423 yards against UCLA. He tied his career high with six touchdowns passes as the Trojans won 50-0.
Barkley's top target will need to help carry the offense. Marqise Lee recorded 13 receptions for 224 yards and found the end zone twice against UCLA last year.
Keys for UCLA Victory
UCLA will have a hard time keeping up with USC in a track meet, but nor will the Bruins be able to shut USC's scoring machine down. To return to the Pac-12 Championship Game, the Bruins need to play a game of ball control.
USC has a proclivity of turning the ball over. The Trojans have committed half of their conference-high 26 turnovers in the last three games.
UCLA has been proficient in forcing turnovers. They have 13 interceptions this season and 25 total takeaways.
Coach Jim Mora needs to run an efficient ground game to keep his offense on the field. The defense needs to keep Lee and Robert Woods from getting behind them and making big plays. If UCLA can't stop the Trojan offense, they at least need to slow it down and create more opportunities for turnovers.
This game is going to be a shootout. Neither team is overly fond of defense.
As good as the Trojan defense has been, UCLA is averaging more points and yards. But their power ground game will have a hard time living up to the Trojan passing attack.
We're not pleased. We've screwed a couple of games up, obviously. None of us wanted to be where our win-loss record is. At the same time, you want to be alive.
A lot of people in the country are not playing for the ability to win their conference, and we are fortunately. We're in a one-game playoff for the South, and then we'll have another game for the conference championship.
From that perspective, it's a good place to be in and a lot to play for.
In a winner-take-all game, I hesitantly give the edge to the Trojans winning their sixth straight game in the crosstown rivalry.
Predicted Score: USC 41, UCLA 34
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.
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