It will be the battle for Los Angeles bragging rights this weekend as the UCLA Bruins face the USC Trojans. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST on Saturday, November 18 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The game will be nationally televised by ABC.

Oddsmakers view the Trojans as 16-point favorites over their in-city rivals. The over/under is set at 71.5 points. Click here for a full list of Week 12 betting odds and links to game previews.

UCLA vs USCVegas Preview & Game Predictions

Other than this being a rivalry game, the Trojans don’t have a ton to play for in this game. USC has already won the Pac-12 South and they know they will be playing in the conference title game after next week’s bye. Also, at no. 11 in the Playoff rankings, it’s tough to see how the 9-2 Trojans can work their way into the top-4.

The Bruins, meanwhile, have everything left to play for. With a win over Arizona State last week, UCLA is 5-5 and just one win away from sealing a spot in a bowl game. Jim Mora can’t afford to go two straight seasons without taking his team to a bowl game, so it’s crucial that the Bruins either win this week or next week against Cal.

Of course, the Bruins would prefer to clinch a bowl game by beating their L.A. rivals. The Trojans have a substantial lead in the all-time series, and they’ve also won the last two years. UCLA would love to stop that winning streak in its tracks.

Free NCAAF Betting Prediction: USC -16

As much as I’d like to see a competitive game that makes this rivalry come alive, I don’t see it happening. The Bruins are an inferior team compared to the Trojans, especially on defense. Over the course of 60 minutes, I just don’t see UCLA being able to keep up. I’ll swallow the points and take USC to cover.

To be fair, USC has sometimes struggled to impose themselves on lesser teams. That inability to pull away does worry me a little bit in this game. But UCLA’s poor defensive record this season is tough to ignore. If the Trojans have a chance, I’ll trust that they’ll keep their foot on the gas and win going away. 

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The Bruins have proven to be one of the worst defensive teams in the country. They give up on average more than 38 points per game. That doesn’t bode well against a team with USC’s quarterback and playmakers. Sam Darnold overcame some problems with interceptions early in the season and has come on strong over the past month or so. With the Trojans also having a potent rushing attack with Ronald Jones II, the USC offense figures to be too much for the Bruins to handle.

UCLA has allowed more than 40 points in six of their 10 games this season. Doing that has put way too much pressure on quarterback Josh Rosen to be perfect and keep up in a shootout. Rosen has done his best and posted some impressive numbers this season. But in most games, the Bruins have all but abandoned the running game and left it up to Rosen to carry them. It’s a template that has rarely worked this season and I certainly don’t see it working against USC.

Talent-wise there’s a clear mismatch in this game. As long as USC takes the rivalry game seriously and isn’t looking ahead to the Pac-12 Championship Game, there’s no reason the Trojans shouldn’t win this game comfortably. It’s a little tough to swallow this many points, but if they play their best game, USC is at least a few touchdowns better than their cross-town rivals.