Yes, the obvious choice, as stated by our own Rahshaun Haylock earlier this week. Kessler has been steady all season for USC, but, in order to end the Bruins' two-game winning streak in the rivalry, the Trojans need their QB to play near perfect. With a slew of talented offensive weapons at his disposal, Kessler should have every opportunity to make a big play, or plays, in USC's favor.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY SportsCary Edmondson
Key player for UCLA: QB Brett Hundley
Another obvious choice here but, when Hundley is firing on all cylinders, UCLA is that much better. Last season in the 35-14 win over USC, Hundley rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns will throwing for 208. Against a good USC secondary, the Bruins will need Hundley's arm to make it three-straight wins over the rival Trojans.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsGary A. Vasquez
What's at stake: The Victory Bell
Besides keeping their Pac-12 Championship Game hopes alive .... most big rivalry games have their own unique trophy awarded to the victor. For USC-UCLA, it's the Victory Bell which has been in play since 1939 when it was given to the UCLA students by the UCLA Alumni Association. The bell, originally part of a Southern Pacific railroad locomotive, is guarded by the UCLA Rally Committee when the Bruins win and the Trojan Nights when USC earns the victory. The winning team also paints the bell with their school colors, as seen above in UCLA blue.
Intangible: Who wants it more?
Both teams are still in the fight for the Pac-12 South Division title which leads to the conference championship game vs. Oregon. However, all focus should (and hopefully is) be on this classic rivalry matchup, in which, USC holds a 44-30-7 overall lead. Neither team (each with many players from the Los Angeles area) should need extra motivation to get up for their crosstown rivals, especially for a night game on ABC at the historic Rose Bowl.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
Prediction: USC 41, UCLA 40
This one may be too close to call. Despite UCLA holding the better overall record coming into Saturday's game, the Trojans will get a big play late on special teams (Adoree Jackson anyone?) to leave the Rose Bowl with their first victory over UCLA since 2011. Still, USC will then need some help from Arizona State to face Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game.