If there was one absolute must-win game for Jim Mora, this is it. This Saturday, our Bruins will take on the hated Southern Cal Trojans at the Coliseum in downtown Los Angeles in a bitter rivalry fight for control of the city. Make no mistake: anything short of a Bruin victory will mark this season down as a disappointment for Jim Mora in his second year at the helm in Westwood. The markers were laid down last December and again in August - to continue UCLA on the right path forward, Mora would need to get us 9 wins again, win the Pac-12 South, and beat Southern Cal. Unfortunately, Arizona State got in the way, so to salvage the year, he'll need to pick up win #9 against a Trojan team led by an interim head coach who failed at his last coaching job at Ole Miss. Given the huge advantage UCLA has in both talent and depth, there's no excuses for coming up short. So, with the Bruins gearing up during Beat SC Week, let's take a look at the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse as we count down the days to when we talk on the Trojans from Southern Cal:
- Starting with this weekend's loss to Arizona State, ESPN's Trojan alum Arash Markazi noted that it was a "step back" for Jim Mora's program after losing a game that both Bruins and Trojans were hoping UCLA would pull out, as a UCLA loss ended Southern Cal's slim chances of winning the Pac-12 South. As Markazi points out, UCLA still has a long way to go to climb to the top of the conference.
- Turning to this week's big game, if you're not a Bruin or a Trojan and are just tuning in to see one of the most intense rivalries in college sports this Saturday, you can get the background to the rivalry on a rivalry summary page compiled by a UCLA fan available here.
- For the game, the Los Angeles Daily News has a preview of this weekend's nasty fight, covering the basic background stories for both teams heading into this weekend's rivalry matchup, with Jim Mora desperately needing a win to avoid another end-of-the-year slump that will leave many Bruins questioning whether he's the man to get UCLA to the next step.
- And if you think the Bruins will be the only ones with something to prove after this past weekend's season-killing loss to Arizona State, you'd be wrong. As Rahshaun Haylock at Fox Sports wrote, Orgeron and his Trojans are still smarting after last year's 38-28 loss to our Bruins at the Rose Bowl. The Trojans will come out motivated to avenge last year's loss while playing all-out for the interim head coach they want to stick around as the permanent replacement to Lane Kiffin.
- Speaking of the Southern Cal football coaching search, it would seem that Haden's front-runner and favorite, Denver Broncos interim head coach Jack Del Rio may have caused a lot of damage to his candidacy after his Broncos squandered a 24 point advantage, despite having Peyton freakin' Manning under center for his team. We'll see if Haden sticks to his guns and snaps up Del Rio from the NFL in the hopes of landing Pete Carroll #2.
- But, if Haden really wants Del Rio, he'll need to convince some of the most prominent Southern Cal booster to agree, beginning with former Trojan star RB Marcus Allen. Allen thinks it's time for Haden to drop the interim label for Orgeron and make him the permanent replacement to Lane Kiffin. And he's not alone, as apparently Southern Cal and San Francisco 49ers great Ronnie Lott, is pushing for Orgeron to get the multi-million nudge back to head coaching. Looks like it'll be hard for Haden to say no to Coach Zero.
Alright folks, those are your bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse as we get ready for Beat SC Week in Westwood. It's time to get fired up for the Blue and Gold as our football team will take on the Trojans in a huge rivalry game. Fire away with your comments, additions, etc. in the thread as we kick off BEAT SOUTHERN CAL week here on BN.