To keep Pac-12 title hopes alive, USC needs huge game from Kessler

The USC vs. UCLA rivalry is simple for Nelson Agholor. It’s a big game, but not just because it’s UCLA.

"Well, that’s the next game," Agholor said.

His quarterback Cody Kessler has a different take on the rivalry.

Unlike Agholor, Kessler knows what it’s like to experience a win against his crosstown rivals.

His first year on campus he spent as a redshirt and watched from the sidelines as USC defeated UCLA 50-0.

There hasn’t been much to cheer about the last couple of seasons and now in his second year as a starter, Kessler’s hoping to change the fortunes of the Trojans.

"It’s huge," Kessler said. "It’s going to be a huge game. There’s going to be a lot of emotion in this game. There’s going to be a lot of stuff riding on this game so we just got to come out and be ready."

The Pac-12 South is still up for grabs.

USC wins the division if it beats UCLA Saturday and Arizona State loses either of its final two conference games.

UCLA controls its own destiny. If the Bruins win out, they’ll advance to their third Pac-12 Championship Game in four years.

The last time the Trojans visited the Rose Bowl, it wasn’t a memorable experience for USC.

The game is widely remembered for the hit UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr put on USC quarterback Matt Barkley, effectively ending his collegiate career.

Both teams had a conference championship game berth on the line.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, just a redshirt freshman at the time, completed 22-of-30 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown and also ran for two scores.

Last season, it was more of Hundley running through the Trojans defense for two scores. 

In the last two rivalry meetings, Hundley he was clearly the best quarterback on the field. 

On Saturday, if the Trojans are going to win, Kessler needs to be the best quarterback on the field.