Mitch Mustain could get the start Saturday ahead of Matt Barkley.
The Southern California Trojans and UCLA Bruins each have 1-4 spread records in their last five contests. Saturday night’s college football slate has the Pacific-10 Conference rivals squaring off at Rose Bowl Stadium, where UCLA returns home after dropping two straight road spankings.
Sports books opened Southern Cal as a nine-point road favorite, with early Bruins action driving the number south to 6 ½. Betting shops first set the ‘total’ at 54, with initial wagers mixed.
The Trojans blew a late lead in last Saturday’s 20-16 defeat as 4 ½-point home favorites against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. USC allowed Notre Dame’s Robert Hughes to run in a five-yard score with 2:23 remaining after the Trojans’ Joe Houston hit a 37-yard field goal to give his squad a 16-13 advantage.
Southern Cal’s Mitch Mustain passed for 177 yards, completing 20-of-37 attempts. The senior quarterback tossed his first interception in his first start of the season replacing the injured Matt Barkley.
The Trojans’ defense allowed 296 yards, with 149 coming through the air. USC’s linebacker duo of Devon Kennard and Chris Galippo grabbed one interception each, while safety Marshall Jones recorded the team’s third.
The tight battle’s combined 36 points plunged ‘under’ the ‘total’ of 51. Southern Cal was penalized eight times for 47 yards, while the Fighting Irish were flagged only once.
USC is 4-2 ATS in its first six road games, with the ‘total’ going an even 3-3. Lane Kiffin’s crew has notched 32.8 PPG in that stretch, while allowing 404.7 YPG.
UCLA’s latest defeat came in last Friday’s 55-34 setback as a 13-point road dog against the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Bruins saw their 17-0 lead in the first quarter get erased by halftime, going on to trail by as many as 28 points.
Bruins quarterback Richard Brehaut connected on 33-of-56 passes for 321 yards. The sophomore notched a season-high four touchdowns, finishing with three through the air while carrying in one.
UCLA’s Johnathan Frankin logged 73 yards of rushing on 14 carries. The Los Angeles native failed to reach the end zone for the first time in three games.
The Bruins’ defense gave up a sizable 595 yards, while allowing Arizona State to move the chains on 8-of-16 third down spots. Linebacker Sean Westgate notched his squad’s sole sack, setting up a fourth-and-long situation which resulted in a blocked punt.
The shootout’s combined 89 points soared above the ‘total’ of 49, ending a 2-0 ‘under’ streak from the Bruins’ prior two games. UCLA’s offense notched 30 first downs in its 32 minutes of possession.
The Bruins are 2-3 ATS in their first five home dates, with the ‘over’ also going 2-3. Rick Neuheisel’s squad has rushed for 227.2 YPG in that span, while giving up 23.8 PPG.
UCLA is 4-2 ATS in its last six meetings against the Trojans, with the ‘under’ cashing at 5-1. The Bruins have mustered only seven points in each of the most recent three matchups, including last November’s 28-7 loss as 13-point road dogs.
Barkley (ankle) is questionable for this contest as are four USC defensive backs–Brian Baucham, T.J. McDonald, Tyron Smith and Torin Harris. Two UCLA defensive lineman, Cassius Marsh and Andrew Abbott, are questionable with concussions.
Saturday’s kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (PT). The weather forecast in Pasadena calls for a low of 46 degrees, with calm winds and a 30-percent chance of showers.
Southern Cal will await its postseason fate amongst a tight conference race, presently tied with Arizona, Oregon State and Washington for third place at 4-4. UCLA enters the rivalry game without bowl eligibility, currently clinging to the group’s ninth position with a 2-6 mark.