Well LA, this is what you wanted. Right? Unless you’re a USC fan. Then I’m sure you miss the days where UCLA was just another walk through on the schedule. But things have changed. The Bruins have grown some sharp claws since then, and for the first time in a long time, the battle for the victory bell means more than just the battle for the victory bell. It means more than just bragging rights. Yeah there is pride, and the winner gets to flaunt the scoreboard in the losers face for the next 365 days or so. But this time, there is a lot more at stake.
The winner earns the right to play the high flying Oregon Ducks in Autzen stadium for the PAC-12 championship, who are currently ranked No. 2 in the BCS polls and are averaging a nations best 54.8 points per game. Some prize right? Well the Trojans would love another shot at Oregon and their vaunted offense, as they matched them blow for blow throughout all four quarters in their 62-51 loss on November the 3rd in the coliseum. After the game, senior quarterback, Matt Barkley reflected on the two key turnovers in the red zone that he feels eventually cost them in the end. But all of that is in the past. All that matters now is that other school across town, as each school refers to the other.
The tension seems to grow with each long day that surpasses. Students and fans feel there is more at stake for them than the players, for they’re the ones who are going to have to hear the constant taunting if suffering a defeat. But besides the rivalry and what’s at stake, the amount of talent that will be displayed on the field will sure to be fun to watch. On one side for the Trojans, you have Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee, and Robert Woods, which has been just about an unstoppable combination.
What Marqise Lee has done this year has been truly remarkable. He has 98 receptions, 1447 receiving yards, and 14 total touchdowns. Not to mention his record breaking performance against Arizona in Tucsan. Snagging 2 touchdown catches along with 345 receiving yards, and 16 receptions. Lee has been phenomenal to the point where we have almost forgotten about Robert Woods, who is without question a top five receiver in college football and a top NFL prospect.
“I don’t know if you can stop them. You just have to hope that you can slow them down.” said 1st year head coach Jim Mora of UCLA.
There is no question it will be a tall task to game plan for the Trojan passing attack, but don’t think for a second that USC doesn’t have their work cutout for them as well. Game planning for dual threat quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Jonathan Franklin (also known as “The Mayor”) will keep USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin up at night. As if he didn’t lose enough sleep the week of Oregon.
For a neutral football fan, the game will be as fun and entertaining to watch as any. With so much offensive talent and firepower on both sides, the key to this game… Make sure you get the ball last, because that’s what it looks like it’s going to come down to. It is without a doubt expected to be a shootout, with both teams averaging just under 40 points per game.
So what about the defenses? Surely they are both sick of hearing how they are going to get gashed and exploited. For USC, their run defense will have to answer the bell. And for the Bruins, the secondary remembers what the combination of Barkley, Woods, and Lee did to them last year.
Now, was last year just last year? Or is there more to it? Red Shirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley of UCLA stated that last year is in the past, and that this years game has nothing to do with last years. But are we really to believe that the 50-0 spanking put on by the Trojans is not in the mind of these players today? I don’t think so. Athletes have been known to downplay revenge, but be sure that the seniors on UCLA who have not yet beaten the men of Troy, have thought about revenge at least once or twice.
Although players from both teams will downplay the rivalry to the media. Fans and students definitely do not shy away from expressing their hatred for the other team. That’s what its all about in the end; The fans. This is one of the few times in the city of angels where there is this much hatred and animosity. But there is one thing both USC and UCLA supporters can agree on, this has been one of the more fun rivalry weeks in a long time for Los Angeles.
My final prediction, the game will be close throughout the first half. The Trojans will go into the locker room with a 7 point lead. In the second half, the talent on offense for the Trojans will prove to be too much and I expect the defense to make a couple key stops. USC 45 UCLA 34