Welcome to the Rivalry Week edition of Pregame Guesses!
I have to admit, when I was a child, I loved going to Exposition Park. I absolutely adored the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry. In 1984, when I was 14, the Olympics came to town, and I was fortunate enough to see some boxing at the Sports Arena and some track and field at the Coliseum.
In enrolled at UCLA in 1987 and went to my first UCLA football game almost a month before classed started. Mr. Aikman and company destroyed San Diego State at the Rose Bowl, 49-14, and I was hooked. I went to every home game that year (all victories) and, when the Bruins went to the Coliseum to play Southern Cal with a Rose Bowl berth on the line, I was there.
We all remember that game. A Bruin pick-almost-six as Rodney Peete pushed the Eric Turner out of bounds at the 11 (after an 89 yards return) on the last play of the first half. UCLA's 13-0 lead early in the third quarter was finally eclipsed as Erik Affholter, with a major assist from the SPTRs, "caught" a touchdown pass for what would be the winning score, 17-13. The SPTRs must have been miffed by the awful and confusing paint scheme in the Trogans' end zone. No way that call stands today with a replay official who is not on the take.
As we left the stadium and walked to our cars in a stupor, having witnessed our first Bruin loss--the other that season was to the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, which that I listened to on the radio--Trogan fans hung out their windows taunting "Aloha!" as that was the bowl game to which the Bruins were relegated.
That was when my extreme dislike for the school across town gestated. The Coliseum and its environs became the Mausoleum.
Two year later, Alfredo Velasco hit the crossbar on the last play of the game, and a very poor UCLA team settled for a 10-10 tie with Southern Cal. Ugh.
Two years later, a Tommy Maddox-led UCLA team finally got a win over the Trogans, 24-21, the first in my 5 year college career. UCLA went 1-3-1 against the Trogans when I was a student. The 1991 win was the first in a string of eight over the Trogans.
After some dark years, UCLA is now on a three game winning streak against Southern Cal. The Bruins will take the field to try to make it four tomorrow.
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The music for this week is easy. This:
A couple of years ago, I went and bought the album "True Blue" by the UCLA Marching Band on iTunes. Not only does it have Sons of Westwood and The Mighty Bruins, but also numerous other UCLA "hits" and covers that the band regularly has played over the years. I highly recommend it to any UCLA football fan.
I loved playing it on game days. It fires me up and helps make me feel more connected to my alma mater although I live some 2,500 miles away.
On to the Pregame Guesses . . .
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Southern Cal has three quality running backs, yet their rushing offense is just OK, #65 in the nation, averaging 171.4 yards per game. Ronald Jones averages 6.8 yards per carry. Justin Davis and Tre Madden averaged 5.6 and 5.4 yards per carry. Why even throw the ball against UCLA? Utah got too cute and it cost them the game. Or was it the second half adjustments made by Defensive Coordinator, Tom Bradley? Either way, I think that Southern Cal's best chance to win the game is to pound the rock. I think the Trogans win if they rush for 225 yards. Will they? PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 1: True or False? UCLA's defense will hold the Trogans to under 225 yards rushing.
Josh Rosen has had a fine freshman season. I believe that he has exceeded the expectations of most UCLA fans. He has completed over 60% of his passes, racked up over 3,100 passing yards, and thrown 19 touchdown passes against only 7 interceptions. Having grown up in L.A., Rosen no doubt knows about the importance of this game, so he should be fired up. Southern Cal's passing defense is #105 in the nation, allowing 265.6 yards per game. Rosen averages 284 yards per game through the air. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 2: This is a two part question: will Rosen throw for 325 yards or more AND will Rosen throw for three touchdown passes or more?
Thomas Duarte is Rosen's favorite target in the end zone, hauling in nine of Rosen's 19 touchdown passes. I think Duarte may present a match up problem with Southern Cal, as they have lost some important linebackers to injury. They still have Su'a Cravens, though. The other guys, perhaps with the exception of Anthony Sarao, are very inexperienced. Think Jayon Brown two months ago. A crafty tight end like Duarte could be a beast over the middle in this game. Will UCLA get him the ball? PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 3: Will Thomas Duarte have 7 or more catches this game (he averages just over 4 receptions per game)?
BONUS PREGAME GUESS: Will UCLA register a hit as hard as this one?
I had to slip that in there.
That is it for the Rivalry Week edition of BN's Pregame Guesses. Make your guesses and let us know your thoughts in the comment section.
Go Bruins! Beat $c*!!!