Ironically enough, this year’s L.A. city championship probably means more precisely because there is not nearly as much at stake. Previously, during the Pete Carroll era at USC, the storyline of the matchup between the two cross-town rivals has usually been “what are the chances of a mediocre (or worse) UCLA Bruin squad upsetting USC’s BCS applecart?” (And with a lone exception 3 years ago, those chances have turned out to be nil as USC has rolled to a collective 337-155 score over the last 10 years with Carroll coaching in the last 8).
Now that a trip to exotic and far-flung bowl destinations like El Paso are in the offing for a 7-3 (#20) USC, the game on Sunday is looking to be more of a bowl game than whatever middling bowl game USC will actually go to.
Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times penned perhaps one of the most (in)famous columns in L.A. sports history back in October 2001 and one which will live in the lore of this rivalry forever. In the article, he declared L.A. a Bruin football town while UCLA was riding high in the polls, 6-0 at the time and coming off a few top-10 finishes in the previous seasons and USC was muddling through a 6-6 season in Pete Carroll’s first campaign.
We would say, “as legend has it” but there was nothing legendary or to be recalled from gauzy memory about the fact that at precisely the moment Plaschke’s column hit the streets, the fortunes of the two programs reversed and have continued to head in the same generally divergent directions since that time.
The same Bill Plaschke offers up some qualified optimism on behalf of the Bruins against the Trojans, here.
OK. On to the other games. Our fervently wished-for BCS Armageddon has been dealt a couple of serious blows thus far this weekend as Texas A&M blew a couple of different opportunities to fell #3 Texas, losing 49-39 on Thanksgiving night and Auburn was unable to hold off #2 Alabama, 26-21 yesterday in the Iron Bowl. Before the SEC and Big 12 championship games, then, we are left with the dim prospects of Florida St. upsetting (#1) Florida later today.
A bunch of other in-state rivalry games including Bedlam (Oklahoma St. at Oklahoma), Clemson at South Carolina and one of our favorites, the Holy War as the Utes of Utah (#21) go on the road to Provo to take on the BYU Cougars (#19).
And after Notre Dame's game at Stanford, you won't have Charlie Weis to kick around anymore so get your licks in now. Brian Kelly, are ready for your close-up?
There’s a lot going on that we want to get to but if we don’t check back in, please enjoy the rest of your college football Saturday.