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Will UCLA score 62 points on USC again? 'I know that's not gonna happen'

The Trojans vs. Bruins rivalry takes on extra meaning Saturday with the Pac-12 football title on the line

As much as Lincoln Riley and his staff want to treat No. 7 USC’s matchup against No. 16 UCLA as just any other game, it’s impossible to remove the intensity and tension of a rivalry game.

Riley is okay with his guys getting extra-amped up for this game but needs them to focus and execute as well. 

“I think in my experience with them I would say for the team to have a lot of emotion and intensity and excitement in these games — that's what makes it fun. That’s what makes it fun for the players, makes it fun for the fans, for people across the country to watch, but you gotta balance that with playing great football. That can get lost sometimes in the heat of the battle that you have to really balance it, and you have to have poise,” Riley said.

“You gotta understand the emotions of this game, just the overall intensity will be a little bit different like they are in rivalry games.”

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson said earlier this week he hates USC and wants to put up 60 points, like they did last year in a 62-33 win.

What did USC's players think about Thompson-Robinson's comments? 

“He said that? I didn’t know that until you said that, but I know what we’re about to go do, we’re gonna go out there and execute. I know that’s not gonna happen,” safety Calen Bullock said.

“I didn't see that, but who wouldn’t want to put 60 up on us? We’re USC,” said Jordan Addison.


jordan addison usc football

What’s interesting about this matchup is that each team’s offense is built to hammer the opposing team’s defensive weaknesses. It’s a battle of speed vs. physicality.

UCLA, like USC, struggles to control talented dual-threat quarterbacks, which we saw in the Bruins’ games against Washington, Utah and Arizona. Caleb Williams is the best quarterback UCLA will face this season, and he’s poised to have a big game Saturday.

USC’s receivers will need to succeed at getting into space for the Trojans' offense to carry the team to a victory. 

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"They've got some pretty big DBs, so they want to play a bit more physical, so we gotta do a great job using our hands and running precise routes," said Addison. "But I think we’re gonna be good, we’re gonna live up to the challenge.”

The Bruins have three starting defensive backs that are at least 6-foot-2. This will be a test for USC’s smaller, shifty receivers and a largely finesse-based offense.

On the flip side, UCLA’s run game and Thompson-Robinson’s elite playmaking ability are the key areas USC will have difficulty containing. The Bruins lead the nation in yards per carry, and the Trojans’ run defense is very weak.

“[Zach Charbonnet] is just a complete back. They have a good offense. They're dynamic, you know, just the way their quarterback can run or whether it’s their running back who can run and creates a lot of problems for defenses,” linebacker Shane Lee said.


dorian thompson robinson ucla

All eyes will be on Thompson-Robinson in the backfield, who Riley has coached against before, during his time at Oklahoma. 

“So he's obviously had a phenomenal year and it's kind of fun to see. I've seen kind of the beginning and we'll see a little bit of the end right? So I'm always a fan of guys that lead and play the game at a high level,” Riley said.

“He was impressive from the jump, he really was. He's a really good player, you could tell he had some real ability there at a young age.

The linebackers will have their hands full against a strong UCLA team that will be extra-motivated coming off a loss and playing at home in a rivalry game. 

“You know, every quarterback is different, every quarterback is gonna attack you in different ways. Mobile quarterbacks can hurt you with their feet or their arms. So, you know, as long as we stick to our game plan, and do what we have to do,” Ralen Goforth said.

Riley also said Eric Gentry is expected to play Saturday, which would be a big boost for the Trojans. 

“It'd be great to have him back,” Lee said. “As many guys as you can get back, we need everybody we have. Just his style of play is huge for us.”