UCLA has come upon some bad times recently, starting with the loss of Josh Rosen at quarterback to a shoulder injury. The Bruins have lost four games in a row but got a win over Oregon State last week. This was their first win since October 1st. The Bruins and Trojans have faced each other 85 times and USC leads the all-time series at 54-7-31. USC won the last matchup, 40-21 over UCLA.
Since Rosen is injured, backup quarterback Mike Fafaul has taken over has led the team to a 1-4 record. Last week, in the win over the Oregon State Beavers, Fafaul completed 25 for 47 passes for 281 yards and one interception. Wide receiver Jordan Lasley led the Bruins with five receptions for 105 yard against Oregon State.
UCLA has also been struggling with their ground game all season long but when they do get it going, that is what gets their offense rolling. Running back Bolu Olorunfunmi saw eight carries for 65 yards and a touchdown last weekend against the Beavers. Fellow running backs Soso Jamabo picked up 36 yards, and Jalen Starks pulled in two touchdowns for 24 yards as well.
Darnold and the Trojans weren’t as dominate against Washington as we have seen in the past handful of games, but they were solid against one of the nation’s best defensive units Darnold completed 23 of 33 passes for 287 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. With that win, he was able to lead the Trojans to a big win that rocketed the Trojans up the national ranking.
The Washington Huskies were playing tight defensive coverage on wide receiver Juju Smith-Shcuster, so the Torjans showed the Huskies how dangerous the rest of their receiving corps really is. Wide receiver Darreus Rogers led USC with six receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Then when Rogers was covered Darnold dropped the ball in the hands of tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe. Imatorbhebhe pulled in the other touchdown of the game on five catches for 78 yards total for the night. Running back Ronald Jones II was just as fantastic last weekend with the ground game. He rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.
USC is the clear winner but the same was to be said about Washington last week. The only big difference between these two is that UCLA hasn’t been on a roll like USC has been. When it comes to the offense, Darnold and the USC offense is far more superior to UCLA’s Fafaul and the UCLA offense. The Trojans have a multitude of weapons to pick apart most defenses. The defensive edge has to go to USC and defensive back Adoree Jackson. Jackson picked off Washington quarterback Jake Browning twice last week.
This game will ultimately come down to which quarterback can limit his mistakes, optimize his opportunities to make big plays and move the ball down field. If Darnold and the USC team don't take Fafaul and UCLA serious, UCLA may be able to steal a win away from USC. If UCLA can do this, we will see yet another upset in the last week of football.