THE best four teams in the Petra-organised Limacol/GT Beer Round-Robin/Knockout football tournament will be on show this evening at the GFC ground. In the first affair, an all-Georgetown battle, Western Tigers will have their hands full when they take on the unpredictable Santos FC.Following their run in this year’s tournament, the Tigers have shown time and time again that they are not just talking the talk, they are walking the walk.They boast a record-winning streak so far of four, and their ability to get in even behind the sturdiest of defences will be put to the test this evening. Their hopes of moving on hinge primarily on players like Andrew Murray Jr. Devon Millington, Randolph Wagner, Jamal Pedro and Linden Picketts.Conversely, there is the obvious under-dog feeling that must be on Santos FC mind, considering the fact that they have been steadily improving throughout. Their star men include O’Kenie Fraser, Keith Caines, Job Caesar and Orin Yarde and their fans are hoping that they can overturn what many feel may be an easy game.Meanwhile, the two early games are no bench-warmers either with Police having to play Linden’s Winners Connection (WC).The leadership of Dwain Jacobs has proved to be sound so far for the boys in blue and while the unit may take a while to get into their groove most teams would like to avoid them due to their ability to take it to another level.Persons cannot count out Quincy Holder as well, one of the better players in the side to secure game-changing results whenever the conditions are right.WC, on the other hand, are a known physical team who will no doubt let Police know early that they are in for a tough 90 minutes and after Sunday night’s performance, Rene Gibbons has shown that all he needs is half a chance to make that difference.Kick-off time is 18:30hrs.
For players, coaches and fans alike, the crosstown showdown between USC and UCLA is a long-awaited treat at the end of the season. With just two weeks left before bowl season, the No. 13 Trojans (7-3) will travel to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to face the Bruins (4-6).Brian Chin | Daily TrojanBeat the Bruins · Junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and the football team are traveling across town to take on UCLA. The Trojans have defeated the Bruins in 13 of their last 17 meetings, including last year’s 40-21 win.The teams have undergone quite different storylines as this season has progressed. Having won six straight, USC vaulted up in the College Football Rankings this week after defeating playoff contender then No. 4 Washington, but head coach Clay Helton has been working to keep his players focused on the task at hand this week.“We have a job to do,” Helton said. “That’s been the overriding emphasis each and every week: do our job, on this day, in this moment. And that’s what I’m going to keep selling.”The Bruins have struggled without their starting quarterback Josh Rosen, who was replaced by redshirt senior Mike Fafaul. The Bruins have relied heavily on their passing game as they are averaging just 87.2 rushing yards per game. Sophomore defensive end Porter Gustin emphasized the need to maintain that standard in this game.“We’ve talked all week about establishing that they’re not going to run the ball on us early,” Gustin said. “Making them one dimensional and getting after the quarterback, that’s a key for sure.”The Trojans will most likely be without junior defensive tackle Josh Fatu who is suffering from an ankle injury. The team expects to be at full strength on the offensive side of the field. The team is preparing for a Bruin defense that is extremely effective on third down.“Not only one of the best secondaries that we’ve faced, but also one of the defenses with the best third down efficiency,” Helton said. “They come in right at 32 percent, which is one of the top three in the league.”Combatting a staunch defense will be a Trojan offense that ranks second in the Pac-12 at third down efficiency, coming in at 46.2 percent, showing that the effort USC has put into third downs each week at practice has paid off.“That’s a key battle of keeping drives alive on the field,” Helton said.Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold has impressed the nation during his tenure as the starting quarterback.“Everyone is seeing touches and everyone is making plays,” junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said.Darnold leads the nation in touchdown passes, completion percentage, yards per attempt and passing efficiency this season among freshman. He has thrown 22 scoring passes this year. Darnold is ranked fifth in the nation in ESPN’s Total QB Rating and is the highest rated freshman.Darnold has been able to spread the wealth among his receivers, not just targeting Smith-Schuster but also making names for wide receivers senior Darreus Rogers, sophomore Deontay Burnett and redshirt freshman tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe.“Smooth is the right word to describe Tay (Deontay Burnett),” Darnold said. “Tay is just one of those players who knows how to get open and knows how to do his thing once the ball comes to him.”Helton hasn’t downplayed the rivalry aspect of this week, but has said several times that he is trying to keep his team as calm as they can be. Smith-Schuster said on Tuesday that the coaching staff talked to the team in order to help them refocus after the Washington win and to not get caught up in the hype of the rivalry.Last year, the Trojans won 40-21 at the Coliseum, but the year before suffered a defeat at the Rose Bowl, 38-20. The 2014 win is just the fourth win the Bruins have had in the last 17 meetings.“The more and more the day comes closer, you get more excited,” Smith-Schuster said. “It’s a big rivalry game and everyone is excited, but you just have to keep calm.”The Trojans need to win on Saturday to keep their hopes of a Pac-12 South title alive in addition to needing Utah and Colorado to each lose one of their remaining two games.“The one thing I’ve been proud of this team for the past six weeks is we haven’t been about the hype,” Helton said. “We say execution fuels emotion.”
Meanwhile, Johne Murphy is out for “a number of weeks” after breaking a bone in his hand during training last week. Munster will continue to monitor the fitness of CJ Stander, Simon Zebo and Conor Murray ahead of the visit of Sale in their final Champions Cup pool match.Both Zebo and Stander picked up ankle injuries in Saturday’s defeat to Saracens, with the latter set to undergo a scan.Murray will have the neck injury sustained against Zebre reviewed as the week progresses.