Barnes To Stokes (via rongee)
There are no other considerations this week.
There is no wondering what a win means in the long run, whether or not a victory might or might not be enough to save Rick Neuheisel’s job or whether or not it was a good idea to wear alternative uniforms or how Arizona hiring Rich Rodriguez impacts our search for a new coach.
This is USC week and the only thing that matters is burying the Trojans and their stupid horse, too.
There are a couple of stories that make the rounds during SC week. I’m sure I’ll get the details wrong – feel free to let me know where I screwed up. But the details don’t matter, not really.
The first comes from 1989. This was a transition year for UCLA football. We were coming off back-to-back 10 win seasons with Troy Aikman under center and had won seven bowl games in seven seasons. After starting off 3-2, we lost five straight and were sitting at 3-7 heading into the Coliseum. USC was 8-2 (and would go on to beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl). The Trojans were favored big time, but the game was close. We missed a long field goal at the end – hit the crossbar, if I recall correctly – and the game ended in a 10-10 tie.
After the game, as the story goes, a few of the redshirt freshmen linemen were all smiles. Given their record and ours, that tie felt like a win. But then they noticed that the upper classmen, the senior linemen they looked up to weren’t smiling. Some of them had tears running down their face, one was beating his locker with his fists. The freshmen were confused. Hadn’t we just overcome the odds and tied a ranked team – in some sense ruining their season. Maybe. But that didn’t matter to the seniors. All they knew was that they’d given all they had. They fought and they scrapped and they battled and when the game was over there was nothing left. They’d left it all out on the field. They were spent.
There is another story along these lines and I’m sure I’m going to mess it up a little bit. The essence of the story is what’s important. The story involves one of our former coaches giving the pregame talk to his players before going out against USC. And the exclamation point at the end of the talk went like this:
"Gentlemen, you might never remember what you did in the game against Oregon. But you’ll remember for the rest of your lives what you did in the USC game."
And so will we.
If I say "Lavale Woods" to a fellow Bruin, they're immediately going to recall the '96 game, when UCLA trailed SC by 17 in the fourth quarter but came back to send it to overtime (and later when it in OT) after Woods fumbled. If I say John Barnes, every Bruin knows that it was Barnes, the fourth-string walk, who led the Bruins to a 21-point fourth quarter (three touchdown passes to J.J. Stokes including a 90-yarder with three minutes to play). That game ended when the Trojans went for two and Nkosi LIttleton knocked down the pass to secure the win. Of course, if I say "13-9" no explanation is necessary.
Apparently, the UCLA brain trust decided that tomorrow is the right time to break out the alternative uniforms. I'm not sure what their thinking is because I think this weekend is the most important part of the year to fly the colors. My plan is to wear wear True Blue all day tomorrow and wear it all day Sunday, too, no matter what the final score is Saturday night.
It's been a long, difficult season. After the Debacle in the Desert, we basically declared the season over and started to focus on the future. But the future can wait. We can worry about new coaches and regime changes come Monday. From now until the final whistle, I only care about one thing: beating the Trojans.
For the next 33 hours, that's all that matters.
Go get 'em guys. You might not remember the rest of this season -- but you'll always remember what you did against USC.
With that, here are your Pregame Guesses, Southern Cal Trojans edition:
- Name a Bruin who intercepts Matt Barkley in his final college game.
- The Bruins must limit their mistakes tomorrow. Will they go over or under 60 penalty yards?
- In his last shot at the Trojans, how many yards (within 10) and how many touchdowns will Derrick Coleman get tomorrow?
- Bonus Question: Name the Bruin who will emerge as an unlikely or unexpected hero tomorrow?