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     USC vs. UCLA football preview 12/3/2005
    Sports: Athletic Contests
    Here it comes again. This battle for Los Angeles is a near repeat of the 2004 match up. USC is ranked number 1 in the nation again, not having given that designation up for more that two seasons. They are 7-0 in conference play and 11-0 overall. If USC wins, they will go on to play for the BCS championship. The dynamic duo of Heisman trophy winner Matt Leinart and top Heisman trophy candidate Reggie Bush has returned to propel the Trojans and their strong supporting cast to a possible third National Championship. UCLA has nothing to play for but respect and a possible Holiday Bowl berth.

    However, there is even more bundled into this game. USC comes into the game riding a 33 game winning streak, the longest in the nation and the seventh longest NCAA Division I-A winning streak of all time. The Trojans also have a 26 game winning streak in the Coliseum, which is a PAC-10 record. The UCLA Bruins have not defeated SC since the 1998 conference championship and their own run for the BCS championship. USC has already earned the BCS automatic berth by virtue of the tiebreaker. At worst the Trojans will play in the Fiesta bowl, and could quite possibly play in the Rose Bowl no matter what the outcome depending upon how the final BCS rankings shape up. (See the Group29 article about the tie-breaker.)

    The Bruins have attempted to make this game interesting. They enter the game 6-1 in conference play and 9-1 overall. They are ranked number 11 in the nation. Before their loss to Arizona, which could ultimately prove to be the most pivotal PAC-10 conference game in 2005, they were ranked number 8, and would probably have been undefeated and ranked number 4 or 5 entering this game. Quarterback Drew Olson leads the nation in passing efficiency and is in the Heisman running. Maurice Jones-Drew also has been a strong candidate for the Heisman trophy. Both have been USA Today players of the week. A strong performance by either player in a victory over USC may net one of them the trophy. The Bruins can do no better than tie for the conference championship with Oregon and USC. The three-way tiebreaker goes to USC.

    Both teams will be up for this game. Even if both teams entered the game ranked last in the conference, it is still big just for bragging rights in L.A. The Bruins have a strong desire to make up for lost games and lost respect. Snapping the winning streak, winning the conference, and knocking their most hated rival off the top of the college football mountain would gain them plenty. The Trojans are the defending National Champions, and are writing themselves into the history books. The Trojans want to punish the Bruins for all of the attention given to them - attention they felt was rightly theirs. A win over UCLA by USC makes the biggest statement the Trojans could make for being ranked number one. All the hard work by the Bruins to keep up could just be a very big boost upwards for the Trojans. The Bruins could make a very strong case for an at-large BCS selection by defeating USC. Any bowl game would want to highlight a team with that level of demonstrated talent. And many teams would like a shot at the team that beat the number one team. Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oregon are most likely ahead of UCLA to get one of those two spots. UCLA does not draw many fans to travel.

    Digger Phelps made a career at Notre Dame and ESPN by virtue of being the coach to finally get a team to break the UCLA Bruin basketball 88 game winning streak. But, sports fans forget that UCLA had to win 88 games, including FOUR decisive wins over Notre Dame during that period, to make that single victory for the Fighting Irish mean so much. The same applies here to the Trojans. They have had to endure 33 teams that brought their A games against them. Notre Dame licked their chops at the prospect of breaking another big streak. They brought the best game they could have along with the longest grass they could allow. (You would be fined by your municipality if you let your lawn get that long.) They brought out the green uniforms and all the stars. USC told them directly: This streak is not for you! The A games also include Fresno State, who brought out some outstanding performances in Reggie Bush, Lendale White, and Matt Leinart. USC had a showcase game last week against Fresno State, for Reggie Bush and his Pac-10 record-breaking runs of for 513 all-purpose yards. The outcome of this game will be one for the history books no matter what. Either it will break the 7th longest streak ever, or the streak will become at least tied the 6th longest at 34 wins.

    UCLA almost defeated USC last year, by bringing three weeks of special practice and stewing in hatred to the game. UCLA has three weeks to prepare again this year, but USC has had two weeks to prepare for UCLA. Both teams have kept a wary eye on each other in the local and national media. USC seemed a bit surprised last year. This will not happen this year. UCLA is languishing at the bottom of Division I-A football statistics, allowing 30.6 points per game and 435.4 yards per game.   USC is allowing 21.5 points per game and 351 yards on defense. While not great, USC has a clear advantage on defense. On offense, both teams are in the top ten in points scored. UCLA actually leads the PAC-10 in passing efficiency thanks to Drew Olson.

    Throw out the records, and all bets are off, because historically this match up has gone both directions over the years. UCLA has knocked USC out of the Rose Bowl before. UCLA has also beaten and tied USC when the Trojans have already sewed up the championship. USC has also soundly beaten UCLA when they were on the road to the national championship. Interestingly, both teams have overall winning records in the Coliseum because they shared the stadium until 1982.

    Overall, this game belongs to USC. They should not be overlooking this opponent, and will not be feeling lackadaisical because almost everything else is in the bag. There should be 70,000 Trojan fans in the Coliseum against 20,000 Bruin fans in the end zones. If the Trojans win this game, it all comes together. UCLA will play hard, but lose.

    PAC-10 Notes:

    UCLA (9-1) at USC (11-0) - Sat., Dec. 3 - 1:30 PST - ABC national telecast - The Series: 75th meeting between USC and UCLA in the battle for the Victory Bell and Los Angeles supremacy. The teams have met 74 times dating to 1929 and uninterrupted since 1936. The Trojans lead the series 40-27-7 after winning the last six years, which snapped an eight-game Bruin winning streak in the series. USC's current six-game winning streak is its longest ever against UCLA. SC has won the last four at the L.A. Coliseum with the Bruins last Coliseum victory coming in 1997 (31-24). . . . Last Year: USC and UCLA ended the regular season in the Rose Bowl with the Trojans taking a hard-fought 29-24 win. USC TB Reggie Bush had a pair of electrifying touchdown runs of 65 and 81 yards among his 335 all-purpose yards and PK Ryan Killeen booted a school-record five field goals for the Trojans. Bush rushed for 204 yards on 15 carries (13.6-yard average) and added six receptions for 73 yards. USC outgained UCLA 477-295 and had nice balance with 235 yards rushing and 242 passing, but could manage to convert just 1-of-13 third downs. QB Drew Olson passed for 278 yards for the Bruins, but UCLA could muster just 17 yards rushing and only 12 first downs.

    I expect that this game will be broadcast in HDTV for the first time, as several contests this year have already.
    Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 @ 08:28:33 UTC by BB
    "USC vs. UCLA football preview 12/3/2005" | Login/Create an Account | 1 comment
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    Records when one or both teams have entered the game undefeated (Score: 1)
    by BB on Sunday, November 27, 2005 @ 16:07:14 UTC
    (User Info )
    The records, when one or both teams have entered the game undefeated:

    2004 USC 29 UCLA 24
    RECORDS: #1 USC (11-0 7-0 Pac 10) UCLA (6-4 4-3 Pac 10)

    1998: UCLA 34 USC 17
    RECORDS: # 3 UCLA (9-0), USC (7-4)

    1988: USC 31 UCLA 22
    RECORDS: #2 USC (9-0), #6 UCLA (9-1)

    1979: USC 49 UCLA 14
    RECORDS: #4 USC (9-0-1), UCLA (5-5)

    1976: USC 24 UCLA 14
    RECORDS: #2 UCLA (9-0-1), #3 USC (8-1-0)

    1972: USC 24, UCLA 7
    RECORDS: #1 USC (9-0), #14 UCLA (8-2)

    1969: USC 14 UCLA 12
    RECORDS: #6 UCLA (8-0-1), #5 USC (8-0-1)

    1968: USC 28 UCLA 16
    RECORDS: #1 USC (8-0), UCLA (3-6)

    1967: USC 21 UCLA 20
    RECORDS: #1 UCLA (7-0-1), #3 USC (8-1)

    1962: USC 14 UCLA 3
    RECORDS: #1 USC (8-0), UCLA (3-4)

    1959: UCLA 10 USC 3
    RECORDS: #2 USC (8-0), UCLA (3-3-1)

    1954: UCLA 34 USC 0
    RECORDS: #1 UCLA (8-0), #6 USC (8-1)

    1952: USC 14 UCLA 12
    RECORDS: #3 UCLA (8-0), #4 USC (8-0)

    1947: USC 6 UCLA 0
    RECORDS: #4 USC (6-0-1), #18 UCLA (5-3)

    1946: UCLA 13 USC 6
    RECORDS: #4 UCLA (8-0), #10 USC (5-2)

    1939: TIE 0-0
    RECORDS: #9 UCLA (6-0-3), #3 USC (7-0-1)

    USC has been ranked number 1 four times and has been undefeated each of those times entering the game. They have been victorious each time.
    A number 2 undefeated USC team has been defeated by UCLA once in 1959.

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