USC-UCLA Preview

USC AND UCLA WILL BEGIN TO BREAK LOGJAM ATOP THE CROWDED PAC 12 SOUTH STANDINGS

Heading into this weekend’s college football action, there are four teams in the Pac 12 South who have two losses in league play. It’s not quite a four-way tie for first place because USC has played an extra game so far...and has a half game lead on the others.

PAC 12 STANDINGS
USC 6-2
UCLA 5-2
Arizona State 5-2
Arizona 5-2

Obviously, the biggest games left on the schedule for determining who will face Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship game are this Saturday Night’s prime time battle between USC and UCLA on ABC (the best matchup of the whole day according to national rankings), and then the Arizona/Arizona State game set for the Friday after Thanksgiving. Those two survivors will finish with two losses (as long as they don’t suffer any other league defeats), and the result of the head-to-head meeting will break the tie.

That’s the most likely scenario. We could actually have a four-way tie at the end of the year if:

UCLA beats USC (dropping USC to 6-3)
Stanford beats UCLA next week (dropping UCLA to 6-3)
Arizona loses to Utah this week as a small road underdog (giving AZ a third loss)
Arizona beats Arizona State on Friday (putting both at 6-3 as well)

What a mess! The games will be played one at a time, and the chips will fall where they may. How are the chips likely to fall Saturday Night in Pasadena? Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about the matchup...

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
USC: 7-3 (#29 schedule in USA Today)
UCLA: 8-2 (#11 schedule in USA Today)

UCLA has the better full season record while facing the tougher schedule. And, that includes a win with their backup quarterback away from home against the impressive defense of Texas. If you’re to trust Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings at USA Today (which we generally do), then UCLA grades out as the better team because they’ve been more impressive against the tougher slate.

Yards-Per-Play
USC: 6.1 on offense, 5.2 on defense
UCLA: 6.2 on offense, 5.2 on defense

And, the same story is told here as well, though it’s very close. UCLA is exactly +1.0 in differential, while USC is fractionally behind at +0.9. UCLA gets the slight edge against the tougher schedule, again suggesting they’re the slightly better team.

Turnover Differential
USC: +9
UCLA: even

Big edge here for the Trojans...and that could loom very large because UCLA’s offense is prone to make mistakes when pressured. They should feel a lot of pressure here with so much at stake. Coach Sarkisian has done a great job of getting USC to execute without making turnovers. Though, it was a defensive mental flub that caused them to lose the Arizona State game several weeks back. USC would be in much stronger position in the standings if not for that gag.

Market Performance
USC: 6-4
UCLA: 3-7

USC has been the much bigger surprise this year. They were supposed to suffer through transitional woes, but instead are in position to win the South if they can take out UCLA and get some help regarding Arizona State. UCLA was supposed to be fantastic, and has largely been a disappointment even with the numbers we’ve just looked at. Tough standards! UCLA is 8-2 straight up against a tough schedule, but has covered only 30% of the time so far.

Current Line: UCLA by 3.5, total of 61

The market sees UCLA as the slightly better team if you use the standard three points for home field advantage. It’s possible that home field is only being credited for one or two points here though because there’s no travel involved for the “visitor” in the battle of Los Angeles. Has the market overrated UCLA once again? Or, will the cream of the Pac 12 South crop rise to the occasion when it’s needed most to win the division?

JIM HURLEY will only release this game to clients if he sees a meaningful edge. It’s not a great day for marquee matchups...but it’s actually a TREMENDOUS day for finding “off-the-radar” win scenarios against tentative pointspreads. You’ll be able to purchase the final word for Saturday football right here at the website with your credit card in the hours leading up to first kick. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 Saturday morning.

It’s back to the NFL tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK for five straight days of NFL previews. The Thanksgiving schedule is so loaded this year (when was the last time anyone said THAT?!) that we’re going post early-bird previews Tuesday and Wednesday for the afternoon matchups. Here’s the current schedule.

Sunday: NFL Preview...Dallas at NY Giants on NBC
Monday: NFL Preview...Baltimore at New Orleans on ESPN
Tuesday thru Thursday: Previews of the historically strong Thanksgiving card in the NFL, with one day each devoted to Chicago/Detroit, Philadelphia/Dallas, and Seattle/San Francisco!
Friday: College TV Preview...Arizona State at Arizona
Saturday: College TV Preview...Auburn at Alabama

Might as well start celebrating Thanksgiving EARLY! Start stuffing your cornucopias with cash Saturday and Sunday thanks to BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

21
Aug

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