Think back to Paul Hackett’s final season in 2000. USC went 5-7 but the Trojans beat UCLA 38-35 on David Bell’s 36-yard field goal with nine seconds left to win the game.
Here’s my story on how USC coach Steve Sarkisian’s Crosstown Rivalry debut was a flop. I’m not sure I’ve seen a more listless performance for the Trojans in this game since 1986, when UCLA won, 45-25 at the Rose Bowl.
I’m still taken aback by how poorly USC came out in the second half. I don’t know whether getting the team emotionally prepared or the way USC seems to get outplayed in the second half is the bigger coaching concern. It started back at Boston College and was totally apparent against Cal.
But the surrender in the second half at the Rose Bowl was unforgiveable.
The Crosstown Rivalry’s arrived and for USC it is quite simple: Stop Brett Hundley and the Trojans should win the game. Here’s my game preview
Excerpt: “Say what you want about UCLA coach Jim Mora’s impact on the crosstown rivalry the past two years, but Hundley has been key in each game. USC has had problems with running quarterbacks dating to Kansas State’s Ell Roberson in the 2001-02 seasons.”
And here is my scouting report, including my game prediction.
OK, time to decide who wins the Crosstown Rivalry. The Trojans are 3.5-4 point underdogs. I would argue USC has more talent in its starting lineup than any team in the Pac-12. But as the Cal game showed, talent cannot win on talent alone.
And then there is the running quarterbacks issue. Still, the Trojans do have big-play capacity with Adoree Jackson, Nelson Agholor and Juju Smith. So it should be a wild game. Let’s hope it lives up to the billing. But who do you think wins?
USC freshman forward Malik Martin, who left in the first half of today’s game against Drexel with a knee injury, had his knee examined by a physician. His injury is classified as a hyperextension of his right knee but Martin will have an MRI when the team returns to Los Angeles.
USC defeated Drexel, 72-70. The Trojans are now 2-2 while mighty Drexel is 0-4.