Prove It - Week 12 Football; Showdown in L.A. and Coach Dooley on the Hot Seat

USC College Football Matt Barkley

Prove It - Week 12


USC at UCLA, Saturday, 3:05pm


Ok, so technically L.A. wins no matter the outcome of this game.  But for the country’s second largest market, this is the first time in years that this game has a legitimate buzz around it.  L.A. does not have an NFL team for some reason, so USC and UCLA are all the Los Angeles natives have got.  When both teams are winners, the rivalry beefs up a little bit.  Finally in 2012, fans have a show. 

USC has had a stranglehold on L.A. football for the better part of a decade and a half.  Pete Carroll led the Trojans to two national titles in his tenure there.  They have been ranked No. 1 in the country and have battled Oregon for Rose Bowl bids in the last several years.  Over in Westwood, UCLA has run through coaches and subpar performances.  Their last winning season was in 2009 when they finished 7-6 after bowl victory over a weaker Temple team.  Prior to that, 2006 was the last time they earned seven or more victories.  Under Jim Mora, Jr., this team has found new life.  The Bruins surprised a few people out of the gates after destroying Rice and then coming back and beating a ranked Nebraska team, 36-30.  They have lost only two games until this point behind the steady play of freshman quarterback Brett Hundley and shifty running back Johnathan Franklin (6th in the nation at 127 yards per game).  They are among the top performers in the conference at their position.  They can keep up with most of the offenses in the Pac-12, and their defense is strong enough to handle their opposition.

USC has not had the season most expected with Matt Barkley under center.  The preseason Heisman favorite has not played nearly as well as he did last year.  He has stud receivers in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, but the rushing attack even with the addition of Silas Redd from Penn State, leaves a lot to be desired.  Moreover, their defense has not held up like a USC defense usually does.  The Trojans give up nearly 400 yards per contest.  Unfortunately, in a shootout scenario, the outcome becomes a coin flip.  The Trojans can still score with Barkley’s ability to wing it, but their defense cannot batten down the hatches in crunch time.  With three losses already on the year, many USC backers feel like the season is already over.

The reality is that this game is enormous for post-season positioning.  The winner of this game gains sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South.  These are the only two teams chasing a Rose Bowl bid from that division.  The next closest team is Arizona. and they are two games back.  The energy level for this game is going to be through the roof.  UCLA would love to claim that they are not only back, but they will not just succumb to USC’s brand and reputation.  This should be a slugfest.  To the victor goes the spoils.


Tennessee at Vanderbilt, Saturday, 7pm

PROVE IT COACH:  Derek Dooley

Derek Dooley was heralded as a great hire for Tennessee in 2010 after a successful run at Louisiana Tech.  Unfortunately, the Volunteers have been buried as an afterthought in the SEC under his tutelage.  To date, the Vols are 15-20 with Dooley at the helm.  They have yet to win a game in conference this season.  Tennessee does not expect consecutive losing seasons.  Rumors have been circulating this week that he will be fired before too long.  He understands his situation and the expectations upon him. 

He really needs to win the game against Vanderbilt this weekend to at least stave off the wolves for another week.  His counterpart, James Franklin, is beginning to build something in Nashville.  In a regional rivalry like this, nothing would upset Volunteer Nation more than having Vanderbilt surpass them as a football program.  The Commodores are already bowl eligible and on the cusp of a seven win season.  They have the opportunity to win eight games for the first time in over a decade.  Franklin’s team wants to win badly to seal their winning season. 

Dooley has a great quarterback in Tyler Bray, who leads the nation’s seventh best passing attack.  The Volunteers have to throw since their running game is lacking, and their defense does not resemble an SEC defense.  They allow 37 points per game, which is the tenth worst mark in the country.  They have lost nearly every shootout they have been in this season, including the four overtime loss last week.  Dooley needs to push all the right buttons to get his boys to play strong against Vanderbilt.  In all likelihood Dooley will be fired after this season.  A win on Saturday would at least let him breathe a little bit.  A big finish to the season may buy him some extra time in Knoxville.



Rutgers at Cincinnati, Saturday, Noon


This is an interesting game for those who get a thrill from gambling.  Rutgers is ranked in a few polls.  Cincinnati is not.  Rutgers is first in the conference.  Cincinnati is third.  It is a little curious that Rutgers is not favored in this game.  The game is in Cincinnati, which gives the Bearcats a bit of an edge.  Their records are only separated by one loss.  This game really is close.  It just seems like a disservice to the work Rutgers has done this season to position themselves in the Top 25.  This game should be close no matter what.  Jump on Rutgers


Week 12 Football – What to Watch For