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.
No. 22 UCLA (8-3, 5-3) at No. 23 USC (9-3, 6-2)
Location: Coliseum, Nov. 30, 5 p.m.
TV: ABC (Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, Shannon Spake)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)
Last meeting: UCLA beat USC, 38-28, just the Bruins’ second rivalry win in 14 years. Anthony Barr ends Matt Barkley’s college career.
Key storylines: With conference implications out of the picture, USC and UCLA will be playing almost purely for pride. For coaches on both sides, however, the game will reshape the narrative of their respective seasons. Continue reading
– Running back Damien Thigpen (ankle) game-time decision for UCLA this Saturday. Head coach Jim Mora said he liked how tailbacks Jordon James (ankle) and Malcolm Jones (head) have looked in practice, however.
– Cornerback Fabian Moreau (hamstring) is also a game-time decision. If he doesn’t play, the team could slide Anthony Jefferson or Randall Goforth over from safety.
– If you sent Washington State athletic director Bill Moos a particularly nasty email last year, you might not be able to buy bowl tickets.
– Trying to earn home field advantage for the Pac-12 title game, Arizona State and Todd Graham are learning to deal with the limelight.
– Jim Mora said he voted Ed Orgeron for Pac-12 Coach of the Year last night, pointing out the way that he’s injected confidence and enthusiasm back into the USC program.
“He gave them a real spark,” Mora said. “He really did. … Coach O, I think everybody who knows him knows he’s got an infectious personality. You see it in the way his team plays.”
– USC receiver Marqise Lee reminds Mora most of eight-time Pro Bowler Marvin Harrison, praising everything from his elusiveness to route-running. Continue reading
– Linebacker Anthony Barr, on Saturday’s game: “It’s Southern Cal. If you can’t get up for this one, you don’t belong in the locker room. Pack your bags. Go home. We don’t want you.” But how much, if it at all, would a win make up for the lost chance at a Rose Bowl berth?
– Columnist Tom Hoffarth takes a look at rivalry implications on both sides, featuring this line: “Call it the Coach O Bowl for USC, if you like. Or it’s the Oh-No-You-Don’t Bowl for UCLA.”
UCLA’s loss to Arizona State dropped the Bruins all the way down to No. 22 in both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls — just one spot ahead of USC.
The rivals face off at the Coliseum at 5 p.m. Saturday, with the Trojans opening as 3.5-point favorites.
After Oregon’s upset loss to Arizona, No. 8 Stanford now stands as the Pac-12′s lone top-10 team. The Ducks and ASU sit at 12th and 13th, respectively.
The full AP poll after the jump: Continue reading