I became a UCLA fan in 1987 after watching the Trojans cheat their way into a win via an Erik Affholter "catch". I remember how I felt that Saturday afternoon, and swore my allegiance to blue and gold for rest of my life. I checked into Westwood as a UCLA freshmen in 1991. So I was fully aware how UCLA seniors were 0-2-1 (0-3-1 for those who Red Shirted) going into the USC game at the Coliseum in that third Saturday of November. The 1991 game was also following the heartbreaking shoot-out loss to Todd Marijuanavich in 1990. I knew records didn't matter in the UCLA-SC game because as a junior in high school I saw how a Bruin team led by a worthless QB like Brett Johnson tied up a Rose Bowl bound heavily favored Trojan team to a 10-10 tie in 1990. Records didn't matter for that hapless Bruin team which came into that game 3-7.
I was lucky to be that freshmen class in UCLA in 1991, which saw Bruins ending a 4 game winless streak in and went on that now epic 8 game streak. I never lost in my 5 magical years as a student in Westwood (yes I was there for 5 years because I wanted to extend my stay as long as possible). We owned the Trojans. We always went into that game believing and expecting a win, even with John Barnes at QB and no big bowl games on the line. But here is the key. To give the Trojans credit, they came in those games with the same attitude too. Yes even during the 8-game winning streak over USC, USC fans, each year, no matter how many times in a row we had beaten them, would be walking around before the game confident and expecting to win. They never celebrated "moral victories."
However, last year lots of so called UCLA fans lost all of that celebrating a "moral victory" out of this:
Yes, many Bruin fans gave up a huge chunk of their dignity by basically celebrating a close loss as some sort of turning point. The Bruin program can recover from any number of blowout losses, yes even including that embarrassing loss in Arizona, which is now hanging over this season like a dirty scarlet letter, but I'm not sure it can ever recover the dignity and self-respect certain well-meaning but misguided fans will cost the program if they again some kind of close loss as a moral victory this Saturday. We must win this Saturday. A moral victory will not be enough for "the Pac-10 Coach of the Year."