Last year the Bruins were able to pull off a stunning 13-9 win over USC due in large part because of the play of their defensive line. Defensive end Bruce Davis and the UCLA line used their speed to get penetration and keep pressure on John David Booty all game. As a result the USC's offense never got in rhythm and snapped their NCAA record 63-game streak of scoring 20 points or more in a game.
Coming into Saturday's game the Trojans finally have a healthy offensive line and know what to expect from UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker.
The Trojans will have to establish the run early and use screens and draws to slow down the Bruins speed on the defensive line.
If the Trojans can slow down senior defensive end Bruce Davis and keep him from having a major impact then they should be able to control the line of scrimmage and avenge last year's shocking loss.
Davis led all 2007 returning players with 12.5 sacks in 2006. So far this season Davis leads the Bruins with 9.5 sacks and is second on the team with 10.5 tackles for loss.
2. Win the Turnover Battle
Ever since Pete Carroll arrived on the USC campus he has been preaching the importance of winning the turnover battle. Carroll and his teams live by the mantra, "it's all about the ball" and Carroll gets proven right game after game week after week.
There may be no more telling stat in the game of football than turnover margin.
The Trojans are the better team in this year's match up against crosstown rival UCLA. So if they can limit penalties and turnovers they should be headed to the Rose Bowl.
While the Trojans are certainly the more complete team, the Bruins proved last year that they are capable of pulling off an upset, especially if they are given additional possessions.
The Bruins are 23-2 when they win the turnover battle under Karl Dorrell, including 5-0 in 2007. So USC will need to limit turnovers on offense and force UCLA into making mistakes in order to avoid being upset for the second straight year.
3. Improve Special Teams
Special teams is a faze of the game that often gets overlooked by casual observers but can have as great an impact on a game as offense and defense.
Unfortunately for USC they have had their fair share of struggles on special teams this season. A missed extra point had a major effect on the outcome of the Stanford game and just last week the Trojans allowed Arizona State's Rudy Burgess to return a kickoff for a touchdown and had a punt blocked.
Luckily last week's special teams' mishaps didn't hurt the Trojans because they totally dominated the Sun Devils, 44-24, but USC must improve on special teams for this Saturday's match up against crosstown rival UCLA.
If the Bruins can make a big play on special teams then they could keep the game close and possibly pull off the upset.
On a positive note USC's David Buehler has connected on 15 of 17 field goal attempts in 2007.