BN Gameday Roundup: Nothing To Lose For UCLA (As Pressure Is On Pom Pom)

Bruin DEFENSE needs to swarm and fly around the Mosoleum tonight. Photo Credit: insomniacslounge

As I said yesterday this is going to be a long day to wait for the 7 pm (10 pm for many of us) kickoff tonight. I have the same feeling in my stomach right now I used to have back in the 80s and 90s. The feeling of anxiety and not knowing what to expect (which is very different from the mindset I used to find myself in during Toledo's later years and the entire Dorrell years even though conceding the game never entered my mind).

Heading into this year I didn't think we would have the opportunity to shift the paradigm in this rivalry in Neuheisel's second season in Westwood. Well here we are on this Saturday heading into this game with a sincere believe that not only can we pull out a victory, but we also have an opportunity to change the dynamic between these two programs.

The pressure is on Pom Pom tonight. There is no doubt about that as even outsides such as Bill Dwyre is noting the obvious (emphasis added):

UCLA's coach gets more of a pass for the current state of affairs because he's in only his second season, because he's rebuilding, because he can accurately point to signs of progress.

That luxury does not exist for USC's Pete Carroll, who has ruled the Pac-10 for seven of his nine years and who is both blessed and cursed by high expectations. You live by the swagger and die by the swagger, and Carroll is clearly the man on the hot seat Saturday, especially with two weeks to prepare for a Bruins team that doesn't appear to necessitate much preparation.

Doesn't get any simpler than that. If our guys cannot get it done tonight, the world will not end. However, if the Trojans choke in their home stadium against Neuheisel, the world will come crashing down on Pom Pom. It will be the final death knell on a 7 year run built on a string of blockbuster (alleged) cheating scandals.

As for our guys, concentration is the word of the day:

"This is a different chapter of UCLA football,'' Neuheisel said. "The knowledge that things are possible is definitely important. It's not superhuman to get things accomplished. It takes great concentration, and then going out and making it happen. Our guys, I think, will be ready for that kind of ballgame.''

That was from the AP writeup in which CRN channeled a little BruinsNation:

"It's a great tradition, and I think the colors are absolutely beautiful,'' said Neuheisel, a quarterback for the Bruins in the early 1980s. "When I grew up, the Ohio State-Michigan game was in the mornings and the USC-UCLA game was in the afternoons, and that was what you watched. The colors in the USC-UCLA game just jumped off the screen, and this was before HD. The combination was just magical, in my mind. I think Pete thinks so as well, and that's what we've got back to.''

There is nothing earth shattering in the LA Times today. Chris Dufresne is calling the matchup too close to call:

USC offense vs. UCLA defense

Despite all that five-star talent, the Trojans rank No. 58 nationally in scoring offense at 27.5 points a game, and can expect stiff resistance against a UCLA defense giving up only 20 points a game.

UCLA offense vs. USC defense

Oregon and Stanford gashed USC's defense with relentless running games that put the Trojans on their heels. To win, UCLA needs to control the ground and then be ready to pass when the defense creeps up.

Special teams

The kicking advantage belongs to UCLA with Kai Forbath leading the nation in field goals and Jeff Locke ranking ninth (44 yards a kick) in punting.

Over at the Daily News, Jon Gold has a good quote on Logan Paulsen and ATV's frame of mind:

"In their minds, they're still way better, they're still more talented," senior cornerback Alterraun Verner said. "Our mentality is that we're still going to put up a fight. There's no change in mentality. They're still the Trojans and they beat us the last couple years."

UCLA can take solace in the fact this is a totally different USC lineup.

The Trojans had 11 players selected in March's NFL Draft, including five in the first two rounds, with quarterback Mark Sanchez going fifth overall to the New York Jets. This, after 10 Trojans went in 2008, with four first-rounders.

Still, despite losing so much talent and despite UCLA's rise, USC enters the game as a 13-point favorite.

"They're just younger this year," Bruins senior tight end Logan Paulsen said. "They play the same stuff, do the same thing, still have the same mentality. You can see the transfer. You just have to keep in mind you're not playing Rey Maualuga or Brian Cushing."

The players have changed but the jerseys won't.

Yes, I cannot wait to see the blue jerseys in the Mosoleum tonight.

As for our game day traditions here on BN, we will put up a pre game thread around 12:30 pm PST to take in other game actions. Our game thread will go up around 6:30 PST. Of course don't forget to get your pre game guesses in half an hour before kickoff. Enjoy your Saturday.

GO BRUINS.

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