UCLA vs. USC kicks off this Saturday (11/18/23) at 3:30 p.m. EST in Los Angeles as a home game for the Trojans. Get UCLA vs. USC predictions and best bets below,. Our best bet is on UCLA +7 in what will be a bounce back spot for the Bruins.
UCLA vs. USC Prediction
It’s a tale of two different downfalls as these heated rivals have given some lackluster performances throughout this year. For USC it’s been their defense, a unit that ranks well below average in most defensive metrics while their coaching staff neglected to put any effort into scheming. As for the Bruins, they have stumbled throughout the season due to poor quarterback play, failing to get any sort of consistency out of their three options under center.
The value sides with the Bruins +7 at the most key number in football. Mainly because the USC defense can elevate any opposing offense as they are truly that bad in nearly every facet. As a whole, USC’s defense ranks 96th in Def Success Rate, 123rd in Def Explosiveness and 85th in Havoc. They do excel when backed up inside the 20, ranking 40th in Def Points per Opportunity, yet getting into scoring position should come at a routine rate for the UCLA offense.
Once in scoring position, touchdowns should come at a near automatic rate for the Bruins offense as they have a massive advantage in that department. Especially with punching it in on the ground, UCLA ranks 19th in Rush PPA as opposed to USC’s rush defense, which ranks 118th in their efforts of trying to stop it. The massive advantage of being able to run it in creates a huge swing towards UCLA’s favor as they have mightily struggled at scoring through the air as they rank 102nd in Pass PPA.
With scoring coming at a more routine rate on the Bruins end, it will be up to their defense to ensure covering the spread. Defense has been their lone consistent source of success as the UCLA front seven has rounded out into a formidable group and one that will be able to keep Caleb Williams uncomfortable in the pocket. When on the run, Caleb Williams’ quality of throws decreases and plays right into UCLA’s favor as a Havoc minded unit.
Not only has the UCLA front seven graded out as elite, but the defense as a whole has come a long way as they currently rank 34th in Def Success Rate, 24th in Explosiveness, 10th in Points per Opportunity and eighth in Havoc. As we have seen against the likes of Notre Dame and Oregon, when faced against an elite defense the USC offense struggles to keep within scoring pace as the opposing offense has no issue with moving the ball down the field.
UCLA vs. USC Prediction: UCLA +7
UCLA vs. USC Best Betting Odds
Even after another telling loss, oddsmakers still have this game as the Trojans to lose as they opened USC as a -6.5 favorite. That’s a sharp decrease from the lookahead line, originally sitting at -11.5. That number has since crept up to a flat seven, giving value to the Bruins at the most key number when betting the spread.
As for the total, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a lightning-quick pace as they opened the number at 65.5. Bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either side of the total, keeping the number the same as of writing. UCLA is in a position to slow down the Trojans, giving value toward the under while they dominate time of possession with the run.
UCLA vs. USC Key Matchups
Can UCLA find any sort of pass production against the USC secondary?
Ethan Garbers vs. USC Secondary
One concern when backing the Bruins is that all three quarterbacks are currently listed on the injury report. Luckily for them, Ethan Garbers is looking to be cleared and will be able to give it a go with Dante Moore potentially backing him up.
After two QB scrambles, Ethan Garbers finds Carson Steele for the wide-open TD 🙌
UCLA 7, Colorado 6
14:19 – 2nd quarter
— UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) October 29, 2023
Whether it is Garbers or Moore, both quarterbacks will be in a position to succeed against the USC secondary. USC’s pass coverage currently ranks 79th in Def Pass Success Rate, 78th in Def Pass PPA, and 117th in Def Pass Explosiveness. Their linebacking unit struggles in coverage, leaving their already poor cornerbacks on islands. Expect wide open passing lanes all game long, giving the UCLA quarterbacks a bounce back opportunity.