Allright Bruins. We are now just a day away from taking on the trogans at the Rose Bowl. Achilles has his pregame guesses ready to go, and our preview series on Southern Cal is here for folks looking to catch up on the folks from across town. Coach Mora is fired up for tomorrow night, and the national media thinks he has good reason. Let's start with the Wall Street Journal:
... But Saturday’s game at the Rose Bowl may not ultimately be very close, especially considering the small, three-point spread.
UCLA has an elite home-field advantage (worth more than the traditional three points) and a matchup advantage with dual-threat quarterback Brett Hundley likely able to exploit a relatively weak USC run defense.
According to 50,000 games played by the Predictalator at PredictionMachine.com, UCLA wins over USC 58.1% of the time and by an average score of 39-30.
The college football writers at SI.com have picked the Bruins to prevail tomorrow night by a 7-1 margin, while Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel both have UCLA winning in a close battle with Southern Cal. Coy Wire has an insightful piece at Fox Sports looking at how the evolution of the Bruin running attack has allowed UCLA to make a late run toward the college football playoff.
Over at the LA Times, Tommy Maddux looks back at his two Southern Cal games, and Sam Farmer talked with some NFL scouts about the professional outlook for several of the players taking the field tomorrow.
In wider CFB news, reports over the last couple of days suggest that The Mighty SEC - home to such epic matchups as Auburn/Samford and Georgia/Charleston Southern - is afraid of the possibility of Texas A&M playing Texas in a bowl game and will oppose any bowl's attempt to select both teams.
Sports Illustrated is getting ready to name their Sportsman of the Year for 2014. In preparation, they have tasked their writers to publish short essays on the 20 finalists - a group which includes two Bruins. George Dohrmann's essay describes the impact of Ed O'Bannon and his fellow plaintiffs and activists fighting the NCAA.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it took at least that to bring down the NCAA.
There were the former athletes, like Ed O’Bannon and Shawne Alston, who put their names on historic lawsuits...
While the NCAA it still operating and Mark Emmert is still defending its model, there is little doubt that the association will never be the same after the events of 2014. This past year was the beginning of its end, and the individuals who made that happen should be SI’s Sportspersons of the Year.
UCLA's Nevada-based former national champion/POY is an SI Sportsman of the Year nominee, while Southern Cal's icon is a convicted felon serving up to 33 years in a Nevada prison. Sounds about right. Bruin legend and 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi is the subject of Tim Layden's nominating essay.
... Then something remarkable happened, something that defies explanation to this day and softens the anger of the most cynical among us. An American won the race. An American with a bib on which he had written in tiny letters the names of the three killed in the 2013 bombing and the MIT police officer killed later. An American who had for many years not long ago, suffered the indignity of criticism that he wasn’t American enough to represent the U.S.A. on the international athletic stage, when in fact he was everything that America aspires to be.
For this victory, the period -- nay, the exclamation mark -- at the end of Boston’s yearlong expression of recovery and resolves, Meb Keflezighi should be Sports Illustrated’s 2014 Sportsman of the Year.
No matter who SI selects next month, the actions of these Bruins - and all those who go about their lives without drawing national attention - have been felt.
BEAT SOUTHERN CAL!