First look: No. 24 USC Trojans

No. 11 UCLA Bruins (8-2, 5-2) vs. No. 24 USC Trojans (7-3, 6-2)
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 22, 5 p.m., Rose Bowl
TV: ABC (Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Coach: Will Steve Sarkisian again top seven regular-season wins as a head coach?

For several years at Washington, the knock on Sark was that he could never take a team over that hump. Sure, he’d knock off a few ranked teams here and there, but after a 2009 debut that featured upsets of No. 3 USC and No. 19 Cal, his Huskies finished 7-6 for three straight years. When he finally broke through with an 8-4 record last season, he soon took the Trojans’ top job.

Now back at the school where he spent the bulk of his career as an assistant, the 40-year-old is pushing up against that same hurdle. USC will pull more talent than Sarkisian could ever get at UW, but in his first season, the Trojans seem to have a habit of playing down to opponents. Their losses to Arizona State and Utah required them giving up a Hail Mary and a touchdown with eight seconds left. More recently, they took a 31-2 halftime lead against Cal, only to see the Bears score four of the game’s next five touchdowns. Continue reading

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UCLA-USC feature roundup: Larimore and life after football

patrick larimore

For rivalry week, the Los Angeles Daily News published a number of features covering both sides. My biggest piece ran on Thanksgiving, looking at former UCLA linebacker Patrick Larimore and how he has dealt with his post-concussion symptoms since retiring from football:

Nearly four months have elapsed since his PR rep first reached out by email. Mismatching schedules delayed the interview, but so too did a bad stretch of post-concussion symptoms.

Asked if he’s feeling OK right now, Larimore smiles a little.

“What do you mean by OK?”

Although his health is a constant work-in-progress, the Bruins’ former defensive MVP has busied himself with creating MyHeadHurts.co, a shared space for brain injury victims of all kinds.

Some of the other stories we ran this week …
– An amusing rundown of the pros and cons of USC hiring Ed Orgeron as its full-time coach.
– USC quarterback Cody Kessler tries not to take anything for granted.
– UCLA tight end/receiver Thomas Duarte is proud of his Japanese/Mexican heritage.
– Lakers guards Jordan Farmar and Nick Young are great friends despite going to rival schools.
– A brief overview of the UCLA-USC rivalry and its most memorable moments, plus things to do before and after the game.

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