UCLA ended its four-game losing streak last Saturday against Oregon State. Can the Bruins build on that and find a way to win tonight?
There’s no doubt that Southern Cal has been playing well. They’ve won six in a row.
What needs to happen in order for UCLA to win tonight’s rivalry game? Let’s look at the keys to game.
1. Win the Turnover Battle
In a rivalry game, it’s important to expect the unexpected. But, more importantly, the team that wins the turnover battle will probably win the game. So, the UCLA offense needs to avoid turning the ball over and the defense needs to take the ball away from Southern Cal.
2. Score Off Turnovers
It’s not enough to win the turnover battle. UCLA won the turnover battle against Colorado, but the Bruins were unable to capitalize on those turnovers by scoring. Last week against Oregon State, UCLA blocked a punt for a touchdown and Randall Goforth returned an interception for a TD. The Bruins won by 14 points. Go figure. When UCLA takes the ball away from Southern Cal, they need to score. It could be the defense or special teams scoring or it can be the offense. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that they capitalize on Southern Cal’s mistakes.
3. Manage the Clock Effectively
One of the biggest issues of the Jim Mora era has been poor clock management. We’ve seen it frequently enough. UCLA goes ahead late only to lose the game on the last possession. This year, it was Stanford. Two years ago, it was Utah. Or, UCLA gets the ball back late without enough time on the clock to get the final score they need to tie or win the game. If UCLA is able to keep the game close, they will need to effectively manage the clock, especially as the game winds down.