USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) talks with USC Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley during the first half of the game against No. 6 Oregon Ducks on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.

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Rivals UCLA, USC stumble into final Pac-12 showdown

Los Angeles rivals UCLA and host Southern California meet Saturday in the 93rd installment of their annual series.

Both the Trojans (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12 Conference) and Bruins (6-4, 3-4) come into the matchup — the last before each leaves the Pac-12 for the Big Ten Conference — on losing streaks.

USC dropped its second consecutive game last Saturday, 36-27 at Oregon. The Trojans lost the previous week at home to undefeated Washington, 52-42.

“We’ve been … right on the doorstep of getting it done, but haven’t quite been able to get over the hump here in the second half of the season,” USC coach Lincoln Riley said on his radio show Monday. “When you set out big goals and you go for it, every now and then, you’re going to come up short.”

USC is out of contention for the Pac-12 championship heading into its regular-season finale. Defense has plagued the Trojans throughout their turbulent 2023, with opponents scoring at least 34 points in each of the last seven games.

Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was dismissed before last week’s visit to Oregon, but USC still gave up passing touchdowns of 77 and 84 yards against the Ducks.

UCLA, meanwhile, has struggled on the other side of the ball in consecutive losses of 27-10 at Arizona on Nov. 4 and 17-7 at home last week to Arizona State.

The Bruins had three consecutive possessions deep in Arizona State territory end without producing any points.

Quarterback injuries have impacted UCLA offensively.

Dante Moore did not play against Arizona State, but Bruins coach Chip Kelly said on Monday he is practicing. The freshman is 91-for-75 on the season for 1,344 yards with 10 TDs but has been intercepted seven times.

Fellow Bruins QB Ethan Garbers is 64-for-94 for 786 yards with six touchdowns and three picks, while Collin Schlee has operated primarily as a ball-carrier when he has been under center.

“They all can throw the ball very well, so that’s not a problem,” UCLA wide receiver Logan Loya said. “Sure, maybe the timing’s a little different, you can say the same thing for the quarterbacks about each receiver, too.”

USC quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, meanwhile, is tied with Oregon’s Bo Nix for the second-most passing touchdowns in the country this season with 29. Williams has also rushed for 11 scores.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
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FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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