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UCLA Bruins vs. USC Trojans Point Spread - Pick

UCLA Bruins (4-6 SU, 4-5-1 ATS) vs. USC Trojans (7-4 SU, 5-5-1 ATS)
College Football Week 13
Date/Time: Saturday, November 23, 2019 at 3:30PM EST
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
TV: ABC

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: UCLA +13.5/USC -13.5
Over/Under Total: 64.5

The UCLA Bruins come across town to the Coliseum to face the USC Trojans on Saturday in Pac-12 action. This annual matchup has a lot of names, known as the Los Angeles City Championship, the Crosstown Showdown, the Battle of LA, or just the Crosstown Rivalry. Despite USC generally having greater success overall than UCLA in recent seasons, the Bruins have fared well in this annual showdown, winning 4 of the last 7 meetings, including last season's meeting, 34-27. And those were some pretty awful UCLA teams. With UCLA a little better this season, can they once again get over on the Trojans? Or will a Trojans team that has won two straight and four out of five be too strong for their crosstown foes?

UCLA really fell apart last week and it was a tremendous letdown. Granted, they were facing a top-ten Utah team on the road and were a little out of their wheelhouse, both in terms of site and opponent. But still, a 49-3 loss was a major disappointment. Coming into that game, they had won three straight in conference, all double-digit wins. It looked like they were going to rise up and make a run at a possible bowl game—quite an achievement for a team that started off 1-5, with some hellacious beatings along the way. And while they weren't expected to beat Utah, some stiffer resistance was expected. Can they get it together in time for this game?

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The Trojans, meanwhile, are cruising along, winners of four of five and coming off two straight road wins, including a 41-17 win over Cal last week. This is their 12th contest and their final regular season game of the season. It has been a tough year, with some success, but enough letdowns to make it a pretty ho-hum campaign for Southern Cal. Between the injuries and upheaval among the team brass, it's been a trying year. They would like to get their 8th win, secure a better bowl-bid, and at least finish the regular season on an up-note, with five wins in their last six.

There are certainly erratic offenses in college football, with UCLA taking it to a new level this season. Sometimes you see them doing things like putting up 50 points in one half against Washington State and putting up point-totals in the 30's and 40's against decent conference opposition. The next thing you know, they're scoring 14 against San Diego State, 17 against Arizona, and then not even getting into the end zone against Utah on Saturday, with a pathetic three-point output. But that Utah defense is pretty darned good and when placed in this context, against Pac-12 teams without the best defenses, they've managed to hit the scoreboard with more regularity. Look for Dorian Thompson-Robinson to make more things happen this week at quarterback, with weapons like running backs Joshua Kelley and Demetric Felton, along with ball-catchers Kyle Phillips, Devin Asiasi, and others.

The defense let the Bruins down again on Saturday, with the Utes having a big day both on the ground and through the air. It was more reminiscent of the early-season UCLA defense, the one that was giving up basketball-looking scores. Leading up to the Utah debacle, they had seemed to get their act together with three straight respectable showings where they gave up a combined 62 points. But against Utah, it was rough, allowing 536 total yards and just producing very little resistance. They will have their hands full with a Southern Cal offense this week that has a lot of talent.

The USC offense has taken a lot of hits this season from the injury front. But when all else fails with the Trojans, they can always at least count on some fire on this side of the ball. Quarterback Kedon Slovis makes mistakes, as true freshmen unexpectedly thrust into action will do, but he also makes good use of his weapons and gives this offense a sense of vitality. He has 15 TD throws in the last four games, with a high completion rate. Their run-game suffering has limited them and perhaps prevented the Trojans from doing bigger things this season, but Vavae Malepai, Stephen Carr, Kenan Christon and Markese Stepp can do some damage against this Bruins' defense. But the real hitters on this side of the ball are the receivers, with Michael Pittman one of the best in the conference, along with useful Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown, among other contributors.

With it pretty much being a given that the USC offense should be able to have some success in this game, how the Trojans' defense performs here should go a a long way toward determining who covers the spread this week. Let's just say it's not the best part of the Southern Cal team as a whole. While there is talent and some playmaking on this side of the ball, there is nothing they do particularly well and we've seen them get lit up multiple times this season. By the same token, they held Utah to 23 in becoming the only team to beat them this season, while also being respectable on some other occasions.

Betting on UCLA can only be done with so clear of a head. It can either be a bonanza where you know you won well before the game is over or a total bust that by midway through the third quarter, you've already chalked it up as a loss. But it's not like that hasn't happened to bettors for the Trojans in 2019. These rivalry games sometimes play to form, but a lot of times, you can throw out the records and even some of the matchup components on paper. I see the Bruins hanging in there a little with the Trojans and getting the cover.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the UCLA Bruins plus 13.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the UCLA-USC game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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