So how was your weekend?
Hope it was as good as ours. Took a little trip up north and spent some time pulling back the curtain on the Emerald City.
The folks there were great. It took them a while but before Saturday was in the books, they remembered who their visitors from LA were and could not have been more hospitable. Apparently old memories die hard because the folks in the Great Northwest remembered.
So that's what a USC football team looks like, they seemed to be saying. Yep, that's what one looks like. We're Just Sayin'.
*** Now it's time, USC folks will say, to do some reminding closer to home -- say in Westwood and Pasadena . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But it's way more than that. It's the final comeback step for a Trojan team that started 0-2 in the Pac-12 and hopes to finish 7-2. Can't do that without a win in the Rose Bowl Saturday . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Just checked the attendance for the last Crosstown Rivalry night game at the Rose Bowl -- in 2010 -- and a mere 71,105 turned out for the second latest start in series history there -- and here we go again. Thanks, TV . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And for those USC fans who don't plan to show up and walk the gauntlet of overserved day-long tailgaters looking for a fight, we can understand your concerns. But considering that this game and next week's against Notre Dame at the Coliseum are the last chances to see off USC's seniors here in LA -- and maybe a couple of juniors who have hung in there through some tough times, we say suck it up and get to the game . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Hard to imagine a USC fan passing up a chance to knock UCLA out of becoming bowl eligible while keeping USC alive for a Pac-12 title . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Speaking of hard to imagine, less than three months ago, the two pundits on ESPN's College Football Scoreboard Show were picking UCLA as one of the four College Football Playoff teams . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Not to jump on ESPN here but that's what we're going to do after giving them praise last week for being smart enough in their national college football Power Ratings to have moved USC up to No. 12, higher than anybody else ranked the Trojans. Guess those national smarts do not apply to ESPN's Pac-12 bloggers whose Pac-12 Power Ratings this week had this lineup. At No. 1 -- Washington State even though the Cougs have lost to FCS Eastern Washington and have yet to play Colorado and Washington and will miss both USC and Utah. Mike Leach is one lucky pirate . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But there they are, WSU at No. 1. No. 2 is Colorado, despite the Buffs' loss to USC. No. 3 -- Washington. And yes, despite the loss to . . . ta da . . . USC. There's a theme here. No. 4? Utah, who at least did manage to beat USC in the final 16 seconds in rainy Salt Lake City in Sam Darnold's first start. But where is USC, almost certainly the best team in the Pac-12 right now? ESPN has the Trojans as the league's No. 5 team, same as last week, as if they hadn't played and beaten Washington . . . Just Sayin'.
*** What makes this way worse is the quote from ESPN's Kevin Gemmell in his weekly rankings column, "If you don't like where you're ranked, play better." Unless, of course, you're USC, then "playing better" and beating Colorado and Washington doesn't count, apparently. C'mon, ESPN, you're better than this . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Now that doesn't mean we know how any of this is going to play out. Can Colorado lose to Washington State? Sure. Can the Buffs then beat Utah? Of course they can. Will either of those things happen to put USC into the Pac-12 Championship Game with a win over UCLA? Who the heck knows. But stay tuned. Win out and the Trojans could end up in the championship game -- or not . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And that would have the Trojans ending up, according to this week's projections, in bowl games anywhere from the Rose Bowl against Michigan to the Foster Farms Bowl against Indiana or even longshot places like the Fiesta Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Alamo Bowl . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But let's put a hold on these down-the-road looks, as interesting as those speculations may be, and focus on Saturday in Pasadena when happy Trojan fans and really unhappy Bruins meet in what surely will be an uncomfortable Rose Bowl . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Imagine if you could go back to the end of September and tell USC fans, spinning in their 1-3 misery then, that heading into the UCLA game, one group of LA fans would be clamoring to fire their coach and the other would not only not want to fire their guy but maybe even cut him some serious slack if not give him a raise and a longer contract and you wouldn't possibly be able to guess which was which . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But you might have evidence that nice guys don't always finish last and not so nice guys don't have USC's number any longer . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Although are there any of us who could not feel a bit empathetic for a Bruin program that not only lost its top recruit, who hasn't played or practiced a minute this season, and their "chosen one" quarterback, out for the season with a shoulder injury, and now, to start the week, they find out a top prospect that Bruin fans thought was headed UCLA's way several months ago flips from Duke to . . . wait for it . . . USC. We're guessing the answer is "No, no empathy here. Sorry." . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But there should be plenty of concern for this USC team handling its role as a 10.5-point favorite against the underdog Bruins who may have been outmanned for much of the season with a coaching staff in some disarray and yet with no blowout losses to their credit despite playing behind a former walkon quarterback with a team that pretty much hasn't been able to run the ball at all . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Just keep practicing and focusing and getting better and "Fighting On" the way you have since the end of September and see how that plays out is all we can say here as the way to get through this week . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Although we'd probably never have guessed it would have gotten to the point of closing out the regular season with an eight-game win streak and yet . . . Just Sayin'.
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