Five points: Why UCLA will beat USC
NOV 29, 2013 7:45a ET
This could possibly be contingent on whether or not Myles Jack plays as a linebacker or as a running back, but the Bruins' front seven has been the backbone of the team all season. The Trojans know exactly who Anthony Barr is -- and don't think for that Barr isn't aware that USC is gunning for him after taking down Matt Barkley in last year's game.
It's a deep, veteran unit that hasn't forgotten the feeling of getting shutout two years ago.
2. The front seven -- on the other side of the ball
The jumbo package is offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone's not-so-secret weapon. It's not a secret anymore after it's been used in three games but it's still not something an opposing offense can really be ready for.
Last week, defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes caught a pass -- 6-foot-4, 305-pound Eddie Vanderdoes.
It's a perfect package for certain short yardage situations and the Bruins and Trojans feature two of the best front sevens on the West Coast, if not the country, so why not pit them directly up against one another?
Thinned at the secondary and thinned at tailback, all season the Bruins have found a way to win with or without key players. Tahaan Goodman has been trying to prove that the learning curve is not as steep as it seems for him at safety and without any available kick returners last week, Ishmael Adams stepped in and had the game of his life.
The team motto has always been "Next Bruin Up" and while it has seemed cliché at times, watching Jack run the ball in place of Jordon James it's proved how versatile and deep the team actually is.
4. The downfield threat
USC knows that quarterback Brett Hundley, the Bruins' leading rusher, wants to make plays with his legs. But the last few games, the offense has made it a point to establish the downfield threat early with Hundley throwing deep bombs on first down. Shaq Evans has proved reliable over the years, slot receiver Devin Fuller has been elusive and Devin Lucien will sacrifice his body to make a catch nearly anywhere that ball is thrown.
5. Jim Mora
While the Trojans are playing to fight for the job of their head coach, the Bruins' are enjoying the solid leadership of Mora. There haven't been a lot of years where the leadership of the team hasn't been questioned. Going into this game last season, it was Mora's first and the unexpected as expected. But prior to that, Rick Neuheisel was constantly under fire and the Bruins were the perennial underdogs.
Mora has changed the culture in Westwood and changed it into a winning win. No longer the underdogs, solid leadership at the top has filtered down throughout the program.
There appears to be a few heading into this game: The running back situation, Myles Jack, the young offensive line and the issues with special teams but the real X-factor is Hundley. Hundley's struggles this season have been well-documented and the injuries to his offensive line have as well. Pocket presence has been an issue, his decision-making and reluctance to give up the football have all been problematic.
But just when it looks like Hundley is going to fall apart, he goes and engineers a brilliant comeback. Where Hundley goes, the team follows.
UCLA wins 34-28 for their first victory in Los Angeles Coliseum since 1997.
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