USC or UCLA to win the Pac-12? Joel Klatt gives his thoughts
USC currently sits at No. 7 in the AP poll. UCLA is just outside the Top 10 at No. 11. FOX Sports’ Joel Klatt has both in his own top 10 with USC at No. 6 and UCLA at No. 10.
On The Joel Klatt Show this week, he broke down the distinction between the two L.A. schools, both unbeaten and sitting atop the Pac-12 after six games, and offered his thoughts on who should be viewed as the favorites to win the Pac-12.
“I think people are failing to realize that they have managed their weakness maybe better than anybody in college football,” Klatt said of the Trojans. “I think we all understood coming into this season … (the transfers) will make the offense good right away. What we didn’t know was how good was the defense going to be. Were they going to be good enough? Could they be good enough to win the Pac-12? Could they be good enough to create a Playoff run? Maybe. We’ll see. Well, would it shock you to know that USC’s got the No. 1 scoring defense in the Pac-12 right now?
“I would argue they do a better job than anybody of not just playing around their weakness, but actually hiding it. USC hides their weakness better than anybody in the country. And their weakness to me is very clear. Every time I watch them I can see it plain as day, but the style of game that they play, the offense that they run, the coach that they have completely takes that away as a weakness. They mask it. What is that weakness? It’s the run defense.”
USC ranks 105th in yards per carry allowed, yielding 4.6 yards per run faced. But the Trojans have been able to play with a lead more often than not, which forces opponents to be more one-dimensional and allows the USC defense to do what it does best — attack the football.
Still, Klatt says the run defense is going to be exploited at some point this season and that’s why he’s fearful of picking USC to win the league.
“Nobody is looking at UCLA nationally. Nobody,” he said. “And they’re tough as nails. … If you were to say what team in the Pac-12 can actually drag USC into deep water, (it’s) UCLA.”
Klatt says UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is playing the best football of any player in the Pac-12 and the Bruins are a team he wouldn’t want to face at the moment.
“UCLA is a team that could absolutely win the Pac-12,” Klatt said. “If DTR continues to play this efficient and this well, then that’s a team that could win the Pac-12 and may make a push to the Playoff. They may. The reason is they don’t have a glaring weakness. USC has to play a certain way and avoid a very certain weakness in order to win.”
We’ll find out. The Trojans and Bruins still have a ways to go before they meet in Pasadena on Nov. 19, but that matchup looks like it could produce one of the best games of the college football season.