It's game day. All week long, we've been gearing up for this game. From pranking U$C to reverse mojo threads to the annual rally and bonfire to 8-claps around the world, Bruins everywhere have been waiting all week to take on the Trogans and get some revenge.
That's right, it's time for the annual battle between our Bruins and the sketchy, shady, agent-hanging-out cheaters from the "University" of Second Choice.
Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. PST on FSN. If you're a Bruin in Southern California, you should already be on your way to the Rose Bowl and you should be wearing blue.
Game notes and analysis after the jump.
USC coach Lane Kiffin said sophomore Matt Barkley would start at quarterback against UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. Barkley (sprained left ankle) split snaps with senior Mitch Mustain on Thursday and participated in more of the practice than any time this week. The Trogans are trotting out a hobbled QB to take on the Bruins, so it's incumbent on Chucky to dial up the pressure and bring some heat with our linebackers to get after a not-very-mobile QB and force bad throws or turnovers. Sitting back and letting Barkley have time will play right into U$C's hands. And don't think that because Lame's group of thugs is on probation that they have nothing to play for. Expect the Trogans to come out fired up and treat this rivalry game as their bowl game, and ol' Lamey has a lot on the line, per Wolf:
USC coach Lane Kiffin said sophomore Matt Barkley would start at quarterback against UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
Barkley (sprained left ankle) split snaps with senior Mitch Mustain on Thursday and participated in more of the practice than any time this week.
The Trogans are trotting out a hobbled QB to take on the Bruins, so it's incumbent on Chucky to dial up the pressure and bring some heat with our linebackers to get after a not-very-mobile QB and force bad throws or turnovers. Sitting back and letting Barkley have time will play right into U$C's hands.
And don't think that because Lame's group of thugs is on probation that they have nothing to play for. Expect the Trogans to come out fired up and treat this rivalry game as their bowl game, and ol' Lamey has a lot on the line, per Wolf:
But after last week's disappointing loss to the Fighting Irish, Kiffin's first meeting in the crosstown rivalry takes on another meaning. It is a coaches' game because it will define his inaugural season as coach of the Trojans.
With a victory, Kiffin would salvage pride and produce a feel-good atmosphere despite a forgettable record, much like former USC coach Pete Carroll did his first season in 2001.
Not only is city pride on the line, but this weekend has shaped up to be a crucial weekend for recruiting. UCLA will welcome a handful of top recruits to the Rose Bowl and Westwood this weekend and a win over U$C would really help set the mood and tone for the future. As Jon Gold points out:
I've never put much stock into individual games swaying recruits too much, but this game is a big one. I don't even necessarily think UCLA needs to win to make a good showing with this group, but just show progress. After three straight seven-point performances against USC, I'm sure the offensive players in particular need to see some forward progress.
Now, one game isn't going to make-or-break this recruiting class, but if the Bruins don't take advantage of U$C's probationary status and start putting together winning seasons, in the minds of young players in Southern California, U$C will still be the top dog, which could hurt UCLA for years to come (as it has in the past 5-7 years).
While it's highly unlikely a Bruin victory will make an impact, it will create some cause for concern until Signing Day for the Trogans, per the L.A. Times:
This is a big recruiting weekend for the Bruins, with a number of top prospects invited to the Rose Bowl.
The Trojans might also need to impress Crenshaw star De'Anthony Thomas, who has committed to them but, according to Wallace, is still being courted by UCLA.
Now folks, let's not get our hopes up about Thomas. He's committed to U$C and reportedly he's helping recruit for them, but if there's one thing we've learned the last few seasons, don't count Neuheisel out until Signing Day, especially when it comes to swaying high-profile Trogan commits (see Dietrich Riley).
- We need to come out with fire. If you cannot get motivated as a D-1 football player for your rivalry game, you do not have a pulse. You are clinically dead and as such have no business wandering around a stadium. Please wait for the zombie apocalypse. Also, please eat Traveller.
- Finally, we need to play focused. This may seem contradictory to my previous statement, but my father always said, the two things that will bring you success in athletics are fire and focus. Fire gives you that much needed boost, and prevents you from focusing on things like fatigue, minor aches and pains, etc. Focus gives you an outlet for your energy, while still keeping you in the gameplan, and not letting you get out of control. Keeping our assignments, tackling (aka wrapping up), communicating with your teammates, running correct routes, making the right reads, all of it equals focus. We focus, we have the advantage.
While the Bruins' offense has finally woken up (rumor is Neuheisel has taken over more offensive responsibilities beginning at ASU), it's time for the Bruins' defense, which has been absolutely atrocious, to bring some fire and intensity to the Rose Bowl. As OswegoBruin pointed out in his round-up:
Get to the QB. We need to get in Barkley's head from his first snap. That means blitzing, that means pressure from our D-line, and that means solid hits on him at every (legal) opportunity. We need inaccurate passes, we need rushed passes, we need interceptions, and the only possible way to do that is by pressuring the quarterback. Otherwise, the two above will pick us apart. This is probably the biggest key to the game on the defensive side.
Regardless of today's outcome, Bullough needs to find a new place of employment following this game. But, if he wants to go out on a high note, he needs to get away from base defense, be smart, bring blitzes and not let Barkley carve up our soft zone defense.
As Nestor wrote just before 13-9:
This is a sacred game. We hope the Bruin Den, the young alumni section - all of you here who are heading to the Rose Bowl - are ready.
Let's not forget what these classless punks did the last time we faced them:
It's time for vengeance.
Fire away with your rivalry game thoughts, reflections, anecdotes, etc. in the comment thread.