Game Day — Ruin the Bruins!

USC vs. UCLA Prediction: Rose Bowl Hosting Crosstown Rivalry Matchup Rife with Pac-12 Implications

Trojans can secure spot in Pac-12 Championship Game and exact some revenge with a win over the Bruins.

Steve Lassan (Athlon Sports)  —  The Pac-12 title, implications for the College Football Playoff and bragging rights in the city of Los Angeles are all on the line on Saturday night when UCLA hosts USC in the biggest matchup for Week 12. The Bruins suffered a costly loss to Arizona last week, but a win over the Trojans would resurrect their hopes of playing for the Pac-12 title. USC has its sights set on contending for a spot in the four-team playoff, but coach Lincoln Riley’s squad still has several hurdles to clear and needs to win on Saturday night to clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. With two conference losses already, UCLA’s path to the title game is more unsettled, but a win would certainly strengthen its position.

It hasn’t taken long for first-year coach Lincoln Riley to get USC on track. The Trojans finished a disappointing 4-8 last season, but Riley’s arrival, combined with several key additions from the portal, has immediately transformed this program into a playoff contender. A high-powered offense has guided USC to nine victories so far, including wins over Oregon State (17-14), Washington State (30-14), and Fresno State (45-17). The team’s only loss came at Utah (43-42) on Oct. 15. Although USC has yet to play several of the Pac-12’s top opponents, the meat of its schedule has arrived. After Saturday night, the Trojans get Notre Dame in Los Angeles, followed by (potentially) a date in the Pac-12 title game.

Chip Kelly started his tenure at UCLA with a 10-21 mark, but the program has showed significant improvement over the last two years. The Bruins went 8-4 last season and are 8-2 through 10 games in ’22. Similar to USC, a high-powered offense leads the way, guiding the team to wins over Washington (40-32), Utah (42-32), and blowouts of Colorado, Arizona State and Stanford. UCLA hopes to get revenge in the Pac-12 title game for a 45-30 loss to Oregon on Oct. 22, but the team’s path to the conference championship suffered a massive setback with a loss to Arizona (34-28) last week.

USC holds a 51-32-7 series edge over UCLA. The Trojans have won five out of the last seven against the Bruins. However, UCLA won 62-33 last season.

No. 7 USC at No. 16 UCLA

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. PT
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Spread: USC -2.5
TicketsAs low as $180 on SITickets.com

When USC Has the Ball

USC enters Saturday night’s game with the Pac-12’s No. 1 scoring offense (42.4 points a game) and is tied for first in yards per play (7.2). Also, Riley’s group is tied for first in the Pac-12 in plays of 40-plus yards (15), while two teams – Oregon State and Washington State – held the Trojans under six yards per play. This side of the ball has carried the Trojans all year and that won’t change on Saturday night. If USC is going to win against UCLA, Notre Dame and then the Pac-12 title game, the offense will need around 40 points to supplement a struggling defense.

It’s no secret what the strength of this unit is. Quarterback Caleb Williams followed Riley from Oklahoma to USC and is among the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy heading into Week 12 games. Williams’ arm talent has been on display in the Trojans’ passing attack that threatens all levels of the field. The sophomore has completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 3,010 yards and 31 touchdowns to just two picks. In addition to his ability to carve defenses up through the air, Williams’ mobility is another angle for defenses to account for. The sophomore has rushed for 283 yards and six scores, but his scrambling and mobility help to keep plays alive behind an offensive line that’s allowed 19 sacks this year.

Helping Williams elevate USC’s offense into one of the best in the nation is a deep group of receivers headlined by Jordan Addison (40 catches). He’s the go-to playmaker and should be closer to 100 percent after missing two games and being limited in another (Colorado) due to injury. Mario Williams is slated to return to the lineup after missing USC’s last two matchups, adding to a deep collection of weapons that includes Tahj Washington (33 catches), Brenden Rice (26), and Kyle Ford (12). Stopping the pass has been an issue all season for UCLA. The Bruins rank sixth in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense and have allowed 102 completions of 10-plus yards (ninth in the Pac-12). UCLA’s pass defense also ranks No. 108 nationally in success rate.

Keeping Williams upright in the pocket could be a challenge against an active UCLA front. A task that’s been made more difficult with the loss of running back Travis Dye to a season-ending injury he suffered against Colorado last Friday. Not only was Dye the team’s leading rusher, but he also played a key role in pass protection. The Bruins rank fifth in the Pac-12 with 25 sacks and fifth in tackles for a loss (51). Also, UCLA has held conference opponents to 3.9 yards per rush. Austin Jones (335) and #14 Raleek Brown (148) will handle the bulk of the carries at running back.

With the firepower on USC’s sideline, UCLA’s defense isn’t likely to completely shut down Williams and Co. Instead, this unit has to find a way to make timely stops. The Bruins rank 11th in red zone defense, seventh on third downs and have forced only 14 turnovers. Winning in all three of those situations is key to slowing USC. An x-factor to watch: Coordinator Bill McGovern has been sidelined for the last two games due to a health issue. If McGovern is unable to coach on Saturday night, Clancy Pendergast will fill in as the defensive play-caller.

When UCLA Has the Ball

Similar to when USC has the ball, get ready for fireworks from the UCLA offense. The Bruins attack defenses a little differently than the Trojans, but Kelly’s group nearly matches Riley’s attack, as they enter Saturday night’s game averaging 39.5 points a game and 7.2 yards per snap. While USC leans on its high-powered passing attack, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet anchor an offense riding its ground game (240.1 per contest).

Stopping the run and getting UCLA into passing downs has to be USC’s top priority on Saturday night. Charbonnet leads all Pac-12 players with 956 yards in conference games, averaging 159.3 over six appearances in league play. In addition to the overall production, Charbonnet averages 8.1 yards per carry and has scored 12 times on the ground in Pac-12 games. Thompson-Robinson has added 463 yards and seven scores on the ground this year. The Trojans are allowing 138.1 rushing yards and 4.4 yards per carry in conference action but should get some reinforcement for the front with linebacker Eric Gentry returning from injury.

In his fifth year as the program’s starter, Thompson-Robinson is on pace for a career season (2,385 passing yards and 20 TDs) through the air. The senior is connecting on 71 percent of his passes and is tied for fifth among Pac-12 signal-callers in yards per attempt (8.2). Jake Bobo (43 receptions) and #19 Kazmeir Allen (43) have been DTR’s go-to targets this year, but there’s quality depth with Logan Loya (13), Kam Brown (16), and tight end Michael Ezeike (15). USC’s secondary ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense and has allowed just 13 passing scores through 10 games. However, as California (406 yards), Utah (424), and Arizona (380) showed, this unit is susceptible through the air.

With a tight game anticipated, a couple of takeaways could be huge. And that’s one area USC has thrived at (20 takeaways), while limiting teams in the red zone (third in the Pac-12).

Final Analysis

If you like offense and a side of major implications for the Pac-12 title and College Football Playoff, then Saturday night’s matchup in the Rose Bowl should be a must-see game. Look for both offenses to have plenty of success in moving the ball, with the outcome likely to come down to a few timely stops on defense – potentially in the red zone or on third downs. Holding these offenses to a field goal would be a win, and turnovers could be huge with this matchup (on paper) appearing to be even. The last team with the ball might win this one.

Prediction: USC 41, UCLA 38

athlonsports.com

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Jamaica
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November 20, 2022 1:19 pm

Gee whiz I nailed it (48 to 45). Should have made a bet in Vegas.
Exciting game. Thank you Thompson-Robinson for your picks & fumble. But you were a little brash in the beginning showing off and that can come back to bite you. Hats off to our secondary for the picks and front seven for limiting Charbonet to 100 yards rushing. Caleb is amazing. Hope we play even better this Saturday!

ATL D.D.S.
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November 20, 2022 9:15 am

I see that “usc 1735” continued to pop off until the end of the game. He must be related to spurned QB Jaxon Dart or canned HC cat helton…..

ATL D.D.S.
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November 20, 2022 9:13 am

What a win! I started feeling so bad in that first half—turns out i had a touch of food poisoning🤑. Nothing like a win over “you clown” to fix what ails you!

rleeholder1
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November 20, 2022 6:16 am

Had a good feeling all week that USC would win a close one. This USC team has exceeded my expectations going into the season. Caleb Williams has been better than I thought and had something like 502 yards in Total Offense last night. Feeling good about beating the Domers next weekend!

San Diego Trojan
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November 19, 2022 11:36 pm

I have a feeling Oregon State will beat Oregon next week in Corvallis. Bo Nix is really banged up, and this was a tough, physical game for them. If that happens, and Washington beats Wazzu, then I think it’s Washington in the title game. Tell me if I’m wrong

USC1988
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November 20, 2022 12:05 am

That Ute doesn’t fall down on interception .. it’s pick 6 and game over
Quacks play fast but secondary looks weak

USC1988
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November 19, 2022 10:49 pm

At Oregon St is no bargain

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 10:48 pm

Looks like we will face Oregon

HOF19
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November 19, 2022 9:57 pm

Utah giving Oregon the same level of fight they gave us .

USC1988
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November 19, 2022 10:38 pm
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Rising playing awful … Pac real happy they screwed us over now

HOF19
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November 19, 2022 9:54 pm

Shotgun Spratling
@ShotgunSpr
·11m
#USC S Bryson Shaw said Korey Foreman made the same exact play in practice this week. Shaw told him he had to do it in the game and Foreman said, “I got you.”

HOF19
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November 19, 2022 9:48 pm
  • Facing Oregon will have its problems ….Like this for instance >>>>>>>>>> University of Oregon Offensive Stats Total Yards Per Game
  • 4th
  • 527.7 YPG <<<<< YIKES !
HOF19
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November 19, 2022 9:50 pm
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Per Yahoo sports Stats page The 4th stands for Oregon being the 4th best Offense in the Country .

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 9:47 pm

Oregon defense looking really good and fast.

PN4SC
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November 19, 2022 9:46 pm

When we punted at the end, I thought for sure that fucla would drive down for a touchdown right at the end. Can you believe KOREY FOREMAN? I still don’t believe what happened. All those points we squandered, and yet still won.
No matter what happens the next two weeks, this season has been a rousing success.
I wife   :wpds_smile:  my wife was here to see this. She would have been convinced I lost my mind.
Hopefully she could watch from Heaven.

USC1988
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November 19, 2022 10:42 pm
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Thought we ran the clock out on ourselves … couldn’t believe LR went empty after 1st down run by Jones and threw it ! Stopping clock, then CW didn’t tuck and run when he had 7 or more yds on 2nd down.
But Korey Foreman did it … great call by Grinch
LR is just so confident it inspires the whole team

San Diego Trojan
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November 19, 2022 9:44 pm

It’s crazy to think we still have a chance for the playoffs, with this defense, after all that’s happened in the last year. Just to be in the conversation, nationally, again, is more than I could have asked for this late in the season.

HOF19
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November 19, 2022 9:37 pm

OK …..Now that the phone calls have stopped (I have not had a chance to let this sink in yet ) .Our Defense scares me at times But bring on the Irish and hope SC Fans Fill up the Coliseum …..FIGHT ON !!!!!!!!!!

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 9:32 pm

Utah with a scoop and score. Oregon up 17-10

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 9:27 pm

Beat the ruins in men’s water polo too.

San Diego Trojan
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November 19, 2022 9:24 pm

I’m so happy that the Bruins look like second tier bowl bound. I won’t be sorry to see DTR leave. He improved every year, and might just make an NFL roster.

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 9:06 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Salvaged his time at USC. Hopefully this flips a switch and turns him around.

ATL D.D.S.
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November 20, 2022 9:19 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I remember thinking in the first half, we won’t. see “0” on defense tonight, if ever. Boy, was i wrong. A play for the game of the decade!

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 9:05 pm

Looking like we should move up to number 5.

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 9:05 pm

With this win and hopefully against ND and the PAC Championship we should have some movement on Defensive recruiting.

San Diego Trojan
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November 19, 2022 9:00 pm

That was the longest last two minutes of my life. Such a gratifying victory. I wanted this one more than any other, and no matter what happens next week, to have 10 wins after 4 last year, is beyond any expectations I had. We did everything we could to lose a game we should have won by double digits, and still pulled it out. Congrats to Caleb Williams for being truly special, and the rest of the guys for giving it all and leaving it all out on the field. Last years team would have given up in the second… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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November 19, 2022 9:14 pm

Bad special teams, Freshman mistakes by Brown and Sophmore mistakes by CW made this closer than it needed.

USC1988
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November 19, 2022 10:46 pm
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Cannot believe down 14-0 … then go on 34-10 run

USC1988
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November 19, 2022 10:45 pm

Being at ND in 2005 was worst lol … but ya crazy my son text me and said let them score when they got to mid field on final drive. Almost agree with him lol

Steveg
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November 19, 2022 8:55 pm

Jones outgained Charbonnay, Caleb out threw DTR, and the O line was excellent most of the night.

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:57 pm
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Great offensive night and overall a much improved Defensive night.

John Weld
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November 19, 2022 8:57 pm
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I think Chip made a mistake because he went to the pass on the last drive way too early. He knew DTR’s hand was hurt. But, I am glad he did, you could his passes were off.

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:55 pm

Now to stay up late watching the Oregon Utah game. 14-3 Oregon and Utah just turned it over on downs.

volunteerTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:54 pm

Hey Chip and DTR, you’re not playing a schlub coached team anymore, in case you didn’t notice. And our defense will only be better next year.

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:55 pm

I sure hope so. I can’t take another year of this.

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:54 pm

USC in the PAC championship

Trojan5
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November 19, 2022 8:53 pm

KOREY FREAKING FOREMAN!!!!!!!!

HOF19
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November 19, 2022 8:52 pm

Glad my heart doctor ain’t here to take a read of my Blood Pressure and heart rate right about now .

Chris
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November 19, 2022 8:52 pm

That was a classic. So much fun. Good night and fight on all. Ding Ding!

beat the Irish!

TrojanMPA90
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November 19, 2022 8:52 pm

It’s a great day when we beat UCLA! 10-1 baby!

HOF19
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November 19, 2022 8:51 pm

PHEW !!!!!! ………..Fight on !!!!!!!!!!

Golden Trojan
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November 19, 2022 8:50 pm

I just knew it, unsung guys win it! Barlow and Foreman!

Steveg
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November 19, 2022 8:48 pm

10-1 and ND is not any better than ucla. USC was their own worst enemy early, but earned a win.

RialtoTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:47 pm

We did it!!!!!!!!!!!

Chris
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November 19, 2022 8:47 pm

Who had Korey Foreman with a game sealing pick to win it?

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:47 pm
Reply to  Chris

Didn’t even think he would make it on the field.

Steveg
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November 19, 2022 8:49 pm
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I knew it all week. LOL

Chris
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November 19, 2022 8:50 pm
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You nailed it!

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:46 pm

Overall one hell of a game.

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:47 pm
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Didn’t think the D could do it.

HOF19
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November 19, 2022 8:45 pm

Korey Foreman!

TrojanMPA90
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November 19, 2022 8:44 pm

Korey Foreman with his biggest play ever!

Steveg
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November 19, 2022 8:46 pm
Reply to  TrojanMPA90

His only play ever!! So far

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:44 pm

Goodbye USC1735

HOF19
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November 19, 2022 8:46 pm
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Nah lets see what he has to say now !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:49 pm
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He won’t. He crawled back to his ruin forum to complain how USC cheated

Golden Trojan
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November 19, 2022 8:43 pm

Turnover!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Weld
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November 19, 2022 8:43 pm

Korey saved his only play for this game, wow, thanks Korey, all is forgiven

Chris
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November 19, 2022 8:44 pm
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Agreed. Way to show up Korey.

Chris
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November 19, 2022 8:43 pm

Korey Foreman!

Steveg
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November 19, 2022 8:43 pm

Foreman finally does something. Way to go

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:43 pm

Game over.

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:41 pm

Tight end again.

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November 19, 2022 8:39 pm

Here we go D. Step Up. Turnover!

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November 19, 2022 8:39 pm

I don’t know if I can take the last two minutes. I hate it that we can’t put games away late

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November 19, 2022 8:38 pm

Caleb could have got the first down running. Poor play calling there

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November 19, 2022 8:39 pm

Sophormore mistakes.

UtahTrojan
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November 19, 2022 8:37 pm

Need the defensive stand of the year

Chris
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November 19, 2022 8:36 pm

Oh boy. I’m feeling huge nerves.

TrojanMPA90
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November 19, 2022 8:36 pm

Caleb made mistakes on that drive