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SPORTS DIGEST: Victory Bell is only thing at stake as USC faces UCLA

At least both teams are on a winning streak.

The annual USC-UCLA football game is usually more meaningful than it will be this year. When the two teams square off at the Rose Bowl Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m., the only thing riding on the game will be the Victory Bell that goes to the winner each year.

UCLA is struggling to get back to the .500 mark and hopefully into a bowl game. USC still has a chance at the Pac 12 South title, but those three games they lost back in September ended any national title hopes the Trojans had.

UCLA snapped its four-game losing streak Nov. 12 with a 38-24 victory over Oregon State. It was Mike Fafaul’s first win as the Bruins quarterback and put the Bruins at 4-6 on the season.

The Bruins actually found some semblance of a running game against the Beavers, gaining 163 yards on the ground, their second highest rushing total all season.

The Bruins need to defeat the Trojans and then California Nov. 26 to even their record and qualify for a bowl game.

The Trojans come into the game on a roll, winners of six straight games after that 1-3 start. They knocked off previously number four ranked Washington Nov. 12, 26-13, in a game that showed just how much the Trojans have improved.

The defense was stellar against the Huskies, yielding only 17 rushing yards and 13 first downs. Adoree Jackson intercepted two passes.

On offense, quarterback Sam Darnold had another steady game, completing 23 of 33 passes for 287 yards with two touchdowns. Ronald Jones gained 93 yards rushing.

The Trojans were ranked 13th in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings and are peaking at the right time. They follow one rivalry game with another, ending the regular season at the Coliseum against Notre Dame Nov. 26.

Jared Goff, the Rams first-round draft pick last April, finally gets his chance to start a game Nov. 20 against the Miami Dolphins in the Coliseum. The Rams have managed only three touchdowns in their last three games. (Photo by Mario Villegas)
Jared Goff, the Rams first-round draft pick last April, finally gets his chance to start a game Nov. 20 against the Miami Dolphins in the Coliseum. The Rams have managed only three touchdowns in their last three games. (Photo by Mario Villegas)

GOFF GETS THE CALL: Ram fans will get what they have been calling for Nov. 20 when the Rams host the Miami Dolphins at the Coliseum.

First-round draft pick Jared Goff will make his National Football League debut, starting at quarterback. Head coach Jeff Fisher announced the decision Nov. 15, two days after the Rams snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating the New York Jets, 9-6.

It was the second time this season the Rams won a game without scoring a touchdown. They are 2-4 when they score touchdowns this season, but the problem all year for the Rams has been scoring.

In the last three games the Rams have scored 29 points, 15 coming on field goals. On the season, the Rams have scored 139 points, the lowest total in the league.

So Goff gets the call.

“I felt like this was the best time to turn the keys over to Jared,” Fisher said of his decision.

He added that the offense would not be scaled back because of Goff’s inexperience.

“There are some things we’ll expand because of the arm talent,” Fisher said.

Goff seemed anxious for his chance.

“I’m glad it’s finally come,” he said. “Glad they’ve given me that vote of confidence.”

The Rams trail Seattle by two and a half games in the NFC West with seven games remaining.

CLIPPERS ROLLING: The Los Angeles Clippers have quietly gotten off to the best start in the NBA this year with a 10-1 mark, half a game better than the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Clippers demolished the Brooklyn Nets by 32 points Nov. 14, jumping off to a huge first quarter lead and never looking back.

The Clippers are doing it with both offense and defense. The defense is allowing only 92.2 points a game, the best in the league. Their average margin of victory is 16.6 points per game.

That’s because the Clippers also play offense well.

Five players, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, J.J. Reddick, Jamal Crawford and DeAndre Jordan are averaging more than 10 points a game, and Jordan’s backup, Mo Speights, is at 9.5. The Clippers are as deep as they have ever been.

One person unimpressed with the fast start is Paul, the all-star point guard who is averaging 19.2 points and 8.5 assists a game so far.

“I’m going to tell you, it means absolutely nothing,” he said of the fast start. “It’s all about playing the right way and not paying attention to the score.

“We’ve just got to keep building. It’s not necessarily about the game. It’s about us and building.”

There are still 71 games to play before the playoffs start. This year, the Clippers seem intent on playing well into May and maybe into June.

Manual Arts High quarterback Darion Turner eludes the pressure from Wilson defensive end David DeLaCruz in an L.A. City Section Division III game at Manual Arts Nov. 10. The Toilers (5-5) held on for a 26-21 win to advance to the quarterfinals Nov. 18 against Chavez. (Photo by Mario Villegas)
Manual Arts High quarterback Darion Turner eludes the pressure from Wilson defensive end David DeLaCruz in an L.A. City Section Division III game at Manual Arts Nov. 10. The Toilers (5-5) held on for a 26-21 win to advance to the quarterfinals Nov. 18 against Chavez. (Photo by Mario Villegas)

HIGH SCHOOL PLAYOFFS: Eleven Southern Section schools and 15 L.A. City Section schools advanced to the playoff quarterfinals this weekend with opening wins last week.

In the Southern Section, St. John Bosco will face Santa Margarita in Division 1. In Division 3, La Mirada hosts La Serna and Cathedral hosts Rancho Verde.

In Division 4, Downey hosts Charter Oak and Riverside King hosts Salesian. In Division 6, Paramount hosts Los Altos. In Division 7, St. Paul hosts Oxnard Pacifica.

In Division 9, El Rancho hosts Valley Christian. In Division 10, J.W. North hosts Leuzinger.

In Division 11, Covina hosts Montebello and in Division 12, Schurr hosts Arroyo. All games are Nov. 18, except the Montebello-Covina game, which is Nov. 17.

In the L.A. City Section, Narbonne faces Crenshaw, Banning faces El Camino and Garfield faces Dorsey in Division I.

In Division II, Hawkins faces Canoga Park, Jefferson faces Grant, Westchester faces Huntington Park, and Los Angeles faces Fairfax.

And in Division III, Franklin faces Kennedy, Manual Arts faces Chavez, Torres faces Hollywood and West Adams faces Reseda.