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Game Preview: No. 7 USC Football Faces Rival No. 16 UCLA With Pac-12 Championship Berth At Stake

Nov 18, 2022

Game Details:

Who: USC vs UCLA

Where: Rose Bowl Stadium

When: Saturday, Nov. 19 at 5 PT on FOX

All-time series: USC leads, 51-33-7

Last meeting: UCLA won at the Coliseum, 62-33


UCLA Player Spotlight:

Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson:

  • Fifth-year, dual-threat quarterback who is very experienced in head coach Chip Kelly's offense

  • Just became UCLA's all-time leader in career starts for a quarterback

  • So far in 2022:

    • 206 of 290 for 2,385 yards with 20 touchdowns and 4 interceptions

    • 84 carries for 463 yards with 7 rushing touchdowns

  • Thompson-Robinson's previous four career games against USC:

    • 72 of 102 for 1,080 yards with 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions

    • 38 carries for 158 yards with 3 rushing touchdowns

    • Has at least 345 passing yards in his three starts against the Trojans


Running back Zach Charbonnet:

  • Senior ball carrier who transferred to UCLA in 2021 from Michigan

  • 6'1, 220 pounds

  • Ranks first in FBS in all-purpose yards per game - 176.9

  • Ranks 3rd in FBS in rush yards per game - 143.1

  • Leads the Bruins in:

    • Carries - 152

    • Rush yards - 1,145

    • Rushing touchdowns - 10

      • Tied for 8th in FBS

  • Has a total of 87 carries for 728 yards and 8 touchdowns in his last four games

  • Recorded 100 yards in 7 games so far in 2022


Keys to the Game:

  1. Don't Let the Moment Become Too Big

    • This is the first Crosstown Showdown for USC in the Lincoln Riley era and it's the first time in a while the matchup has real stakes hanging in the balance. A win on Saturday will clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game for the Trojans for their second appearance in three seasons. Rivalry games always bring extra passion and energy, but it will be critical for USC to remember the fundamentals that got itself to meaningful football in November.

    • "There's a lot of emotion and intensity and excitement in these games," Riley said earlier in the week. "And that's what makes them fun, right? But you've got to balance that out with playing great football. That can get lost in it sometimes in the heat of the battle. You have to really balance it and you have to have poise."

  2. Strike Early on Offense

    • The Trojans had an uncharacteristic slow start against Colorado last week and failed to score in the first quarter. It snapped USC's streak of 21 straight quarters with an offensive score. Quarterback Caleb Williams & Co. must get off to a fast start on Saturday to put the Trojans in a position to succeed. 

    • As evidenced in UCLA's recent loss to Arizona, the Bruins' offensive game plan changes when they are playing from behind. UCLA is less likely to rely on Charbonnet if head coach Chip Kelly feels pressure to produce points quickly. UCLA is 0-2 this season when it has more pass than run plays in a game. Conversely, the Bruins are 8-0 when having more run than pass plays in a single game. Sometimes your best defense starts on offense and that is true for the Trojans on Saturday. USC must put points up on the board early to give itself some much-needed breathing room in a tough rivalry matchup on the road.

  3. Make UCLA's Offense One Dimensional

    • Charbonnet is the gas that fuels the Bruins' offensive engine. If the senior can run without resistance, then UCLA's offense has the power to score at will. It will be critical for USC to shut down their opponent's run game Saturday, and force the Bruins to rely solely on quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson's arm. While the redshirt senior signal caller is a veteran in Chip Kelly's offense, his accuracy can diminish if under pressure. When UCLA couldn't rely on its run game while trailing against Arizona, Thompson-Robinson made errant throws to open receivers in crunch time. The Bruins have a powerful, multifaceted offense, so it will be vital for USC to eliminate one element of UCLA's scoring potential and force pressure on the other.

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