My colleague Scott Wolf and I will be hosting a joint UCLA-USC live chat starting at 2 p.m. today. It will also be embedded at the Inside USC blog.
I was on SportsCenter briefly this week to talk about what this Saturday’s rivalry game will mean for UCLA.
Some more coverage from LANG this week:
» How does rivalry week hype compare to the national expectations UCLA faced just a few months ago?
» Could penalties loom again when UCLA takes the field against a team that averages even more flags per game?
» After being reinstated, what is USC defensive back Josh Shaw’s status this weekend?
Passengers at one of the busiest airports in the world will be treated to displays of UCLA and USC colors. This week, LAX will alternate its entrance pylon lights between blue, red and gold for the two teams. Click through above for more photos.
Here’s roundup of our early UCLA-USC coverage this week:
» As buzz builds around Los Angeles, the Bruins are trying their best not to acknowledge the rivalry hype.
» Mark Whicker’s column on how UCLA woke up to the news of Oregon State’s upset win over Arizona State.
» USC’s Leonard Williams, on UCLA: “I definitely want to get back at them. We’re definitely going to have a chip on our shoulder.”
» The UCLA-USC rivalry spreads wide throughout the Southland.
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
If UCLA beats USC on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, Brett Hundley would leave the program with three straight rivalry wins under his belt. That’s something that former Bruin quarterbacks Gary Beban (Heisman winner) and Troy Aikman (first overall NFL draft pick) can’t even say.
“It would mean a lot to look back and say I’ve been undefeated versus Southern Cal,” Hundley said. “But at the same time, right now … the focus is on us and getting the victory.”
With the Pac-12 South at stake, UCLA will host USC in a primetime slot this coming Saturday.
The rivalry game will kick off at the Rose Bowl at 5 p.m., with a national broadcast on ABC. Arizona State had held the inside track to the Pac-12 title game for the last month, but its upset loss to Oregon State last night shifts to spotlight to Pasadena — where the Bruins and the Trojans will play a de facto division elimination game.
With two weeks left, five teams still remain mathematically alive to win the Pac-12 South. But despite the hodgepodge of potential tiebreaker scenarios, UCLA holds the clearest path: win out against USC and Stanford, and the Bruins will earn a second shot at Oregon at Levi’s Stadium on Dec. 5.
Beat the Ducks, and a playoff berth that seemed laughable a month ago will be within UCLA’s grasp.