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     UCLA vs. USC Preview December 4, 2010
    Sports: Athletic Contests
    Anyone that would use the word meaningless, to describe the upcoming football game between UCLA and USC, really has a fundamental lack of understanding of college football. This game is meaningful in the sense that both schools have looked forward to this date since the schedule was set. A win or loss in this game makes or breaks a season. It also gives students and alumni from the winning school a boost in bragging rights. This is quite important in Los Angeles, since their paths cross every day.

    Both schools are flush with talent, but that talent has assumed that the wins come with the location. USC has been particularly vulnerable is this respect. There were three games that USC could have won, and probably would have with Pete Carroll as head coach. The Washington and Stanford losses went to the last field goals. The Notre Dame loss came down to some poor play. The Oregon State loss could have been avoided too with a bit more preparation. Certainly the motivation was there with the Beavers having beaten two promising USC teams in 2006 and 2008. The Oregon loss was for real. We will soon find out if the Ducks can go undefeated by beating Oregon State in a December game. A loss puts them in the Rose Bowl, and changes up the BCS championship, possibly to let TCU in. The Trojans could be looking at 11-1 right now with no sign of giving way any of their previous glory. However, the Trojan football program is reeling under sanctions from the NCAA, especially loss of TV appearances. I was as surprised as anyone else when Lane Kiffin answered the call, but I suspect no one else would. And there comes a point where someone is going to say yes, no matter how bad things look. 

    The TV coverage is what lures the modern day recruit, to appear to friends and family on National broadcasts from sunny Southern California. All that went by the wayside when running back Reggie Bush showed up at practice with a newly tricked out 1996 Chevrolet Impala. A multi-million dollar annual budget, 100 year-old, best among the best, college football program was ruined for the sake of getting a player an eight-year-old Chevy. There is a whole discussion that could take place about what kind of house of cards economy exists that could topple the USC program over a used GM car. Perhaps the collect-ability of the car, now the GM has gone bankrupt from its previous incarnation, was a factor. Also, what does it say about the integrity of the players? Are they just going to college to collect a payday? 
     
    UCLA woke up on June 10th 2010, and found that they had just been handed two victories over USC, the 2004 and 2005 game. If the film were reversed on the summersault of Reggie Bush in the first half of the 2004 game, then UCLA wins 24-22. But in 2005, Matt Leinart passed for three touchdowns and Lendale White ran for two more. There is no way that taking away the other two touchdowns from Reggie Bush helps UCLA at all. That was a solid beating by both USC (and UCLA themselves) on the Bruins. USC never punted the ball, and turned it over only one time on a fumble. UCLA also found that they were the only bowl and TV eligible program in town. Perhaps the Football Monopoly in Los Angeles really was over? Give the UCLA athletic department credit; they do not shirk from scheduling tough teams. Kansas State, Houston and Texas are not cupcakes. And the Texas program had been solid since the hiring of Mack Brown since the 66-3 loss to UCLA in 1997. A lot of Texas fans were looking forward to that game. UCLA was off the rails, and Texas had three wins under their belts. Who knew that the Longhorns were the team about to go off the rails, but yet they defeated Big 12 North Champion Nebraska two weeks later. A convincing UCLA win in Austin on September 25th delivered some poll points, just because some sportswriters was unwilling to believe that Texas was really that bad. Then we found out the UCLA was horribly inconsistent, yet with the occasional flashes of brilliance that talent will bring. At times, the UCLA defense was good, and other times they were trash talkers. Against Arizona, the defense acted like they were winning a playoff game every time they celebrated a tackle and lipped off to the Wildcats. Rick Neuheisel was brought in to replace the blog-maligned Karl Dorrell. I am not sure if I ever thought UCLA fans were getting a better deal. Although, it could be said that A. Rick had won a PAC-10 championship and a Rose Bowl, B. He was a UCLA Bruin, and a fan and alumni favorite. 
     
    I learned a long time ago to not place any bets on this game, because Las Vegas bookmakers have no idea how to handicap a game where statistics are turned on their head and past performance is often no indication of future results. At the beginning of the season it looked like the Bruins and Trojans were going to meet on the same ladder, with the Trojans going downa and the Bruins going up. Now it looks like both teams are going down, but the Trojans are going to use the Bruins to break their fall. But to any of the 85,000 or more fans who make their way to Pasadena this Saturday, this game is for all the marbles.


    Note: Previous UCLA vs USC previews

      
    Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 @ 16:21:51 UTC by BB
    "UCLA vs. USC Preview December 4, 2010" | Login/Create an Account | 0 comments
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