I'm going to add a repetitive voice to Bruins Nation's anticipation for this Saturday's game. As it does for many of you, this game brings back fond memories for me. This rivalry is great. It's truly a fantastic match-up that really isn't replicated like this in the country. Two rival schools within 12 miles of each other playing in the second largest city in the country. If you're in the area you can go every year, whether it's at the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum. Not many rivalries can produce that kind of atmosphere.
As the leaves turn different colors, and Thanksgiving plans are formed, I often think of this game and memories of my family pop in my head. My family spent Thanksgivings at my grandparents house in Southern California. Grandpa was a USC fan, a season ticketholder after moving to the area in the late 40's. Dad switched allegiances to the Bruins after attending UCLA in the early 70's and has never looked back. I spent a number of years watching the annual game with both of them, listening to them cheer their teams on, watching the blue and red run all over the screen. Even after a stroke wiped out a good portion of his short term memory, Grandpa was always excited to watch the big game.
It's been a long time since this rivalry has approached anything near competitive. As has been documented, discussed and dissected numerous times on Bruins Nation, this game has produced many years of disappointment and frustration in the past decade. Heck, there hasn't been much to cheer in UCLA football for a few years. Recruiting and practices did not bear out the results on the field. Preparation wasn't made, games were given away and our team slipped towards irrelevance. Last year's 50-0 loss to our crosstown rivals was the worst feeling I've had as a Bruin fan.
It's excitingly unreal to watch this team this year. With a lost decade of football in our immediate past, watching this team execute has been incredible. Brett Hundley is the real deal and has kept himself healthy throughout the year. Our wide receiving corps runs smart routes and pursues (and catches the ball). Our running attack can pound the ball against just about any defense. The offensive line has improved immensely and works well as a unit. There's an excitement in the air about this program. Jim Mora has molded this team into a formidable force. Whether it's a field goal as time expires against ASU, a shootout with Nebraska, or a beatdown of Arizona, this team has generally gotten it done. It hasn't been perfect, but it's been a massive improvement.
But it's incomplete.
As was mentioned in other articles on this website, this season will be lacking if we don't get a win on Saturday over Southern Cal. An improved record won't matter much if our team can't put away over a decade of frustration and futility and beat our rivals. For many of us, a win on Saturday will spare us what has become the annual ridicule from Trojan friends, coworkers and, for many of us, siblings, parents, and spouses. A win on Saturday will give us just one more thing to be thankful for while we're at the Thanksgiving table and the Trojans with us are crying into their stuffing.
Coach Mora has done a fine job this year and he now has the opportunity to make the statement that we've been waiting for so long: to guide this team to victory, to put UCLA back at the top of the Pac-12, and to reestablish this team as dominant force that it once was. Our players can do it, our coaches can do it. I can't wait to see it.
LET'S GO BRUINS, BURY THE TROJANS.