O/NSO - UCLA review

The Bowl Championship Series' countryside shook with thunderous activity on Saturday as the BCS No. 3 USC Trojans (10-1, 6-1 Pac-10) leveled cross-town rival UCLA 47-22, while earlier in the morning, the Michigan Wolverines survived the No. 2 Ohio State Luckeyes 35-21, thus opening a crevice for the Trojans' bid to the New Orleans' Sugar Bowl.

The Obvious - The Bowl Championship Series' countryside shook with thunderous activity on Saturday as the BCS No. 3 USC Trojans (10-1, 6-1 Pac-10) leveled cross-town rival UCLA 47-22, while earlier in the morning, the Michigan Wolverines survived the No. 2 Ohio State Luckeyes 35-21, thus opening a crevice for the Trojans' bid to the New Orleans' Sugar Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – It was almost an afterthought that following the Trojans' record fifth-straight win over UCLA (6-6, 4-4), the Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks defeated No. 10 Washington State and Oregon State, respectively, awarding the Trojans the Pac-10 championship and an insurance trip to the Rose Bowl… if USC becomes a BCS computer casualty.

The Obvious – Trojans' coach Pete Carroll gave strict instructions to the Coliseum scoreboard operator and public address announcer not to give the Michigan/Ohio State score until the Trojans and Bruins outcome was almost assured.

The Not So Obvious – Most of the Trojan players knew what was happening at Ann Arbor, however, as during the Trojan Walk, one emotional USC fan, almost every two seconds, was screaming, "Michigan is winning, Michigan is winning!" The fan's continuous announcement was like being at LAX and being reminded "The White Zone is for loading and unloading only."

The Obvious – It figures that the when the BCS ratings come out on Monday, the Trojans will be No. 2, but there is sure to be Trojan anxiety with LSU in hot pursuit and "bonus-points" Washington State taking a powder in Seattle.

The Not So Obvious – In the latest New York Times' poll, the Trojans have moved to the No. 3 spot behind Oklahoma and Texas. This is a climb of two spots for Troy from the fifth position. The better news is that LSU is 9th in the Times' poll.

The Obvious – Monday will also be the day that the Trojans' ticket department sends out bowl ticket information, information that may temper Sugar Bowl enthusiasm since the rumor is only 16,000 seats will be made available to the USC athletic department and priority season ticket holders.

The Not So Obvious - One female fan who is not a member of the Cardinal and Gold Club or support groups after the game sighed, " I would rather we (USC) would go to the Rose Bowl, so I could get a ticket and watch them play. Most of us will never get a Sugar Bowl ticket since it will all be sucked up by the support groups."

The Obvious – There is no doubt that the last thing on most Trojans' minds is playing Michigan in the Rose Bowl as opposed to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps it was a good Coliseum omen for the Trojans, for there was a food stand near Tunnel 17 called Martins' Louisiana Sausage, a spicy reminder of USC's probable bowl destination. After the game, even Pete Carroll informed media members about one of his favorite New Orleans' dishes. Don't let it slip, Pete.

The Obvious – Eventual USC All-America receiver Mike Williams had 11 receptions for 181 yards and two scoring grabs.

The Not So Obvious – Bruin's coach Karl Dorrall was raked under the coals for covering Williams man-to-man. No less than former Bruin quarterback and FOX analyst Matt Stevens grimly hammered the strategy by saying the UCLA should not have played Williams man-to-man, but should have been in much more zone coverage. Not done yet, Stevens said the Bruins' offense had "regressed" in the past several weeks, and there needed to be serious reevaluation about the offensive system.

The Obvious – USC's Mike Williams gave the "Kellen Winslow" soldier salute after his 21-yard score in the first quarter to open the Trojans' onslaught.

The Not So Obvious – Williams was flagged for the celebration, but it was his "diatribe" in front of the media after the game that caught most of the attention. Saying he has been provoked by comments by former UCLA DB Ricky Manning Jr. and current corner Matt Ware, the Trojans' sophomore sensation unleashed volatile comments about the Bruins. No matter how true, here's hoping that in the future, the Trojan coaches will counsel Mike to keep his comments inside the program. The scoreboard does the talking Mike, and, boy, did it ever on Saturday afternoon.

The Obvious – Williams had little trouble against any of the Bruin defenders, including publicized junior corner Matt Ware.

The Not So Obvious – When UCLA beat Washington 46-16 in October, Bruins' defensive coordinator Larry Kerr had Matt Ware cover Husky star receiver Reggie Williams almost the whole game. After Saturday's game, Ware said, "They (USC) played (Mike) Williams in the right spots all day long." No doubt a lethal combination of Norm Chow design and UCLA ill-design.

The Obvious – In the last five Trojans' wins over the Bruins, the average winning margin over the UCLA is 19 points. In the past five games, the average score has been USC 36, UCLA 17.

The Not So Obvious – When UCLA had its eight-game winning streak over the Trojans, the average Bruins' winning margin was 10 points. In the Trojans' Dark Ages' streak, the average score was UCLA 32, USC 22.

The Obvious – The Trojans scored on their first four possessions of the game to virtually end it right there at 24-0 early in the second quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart, who finished the game wit 289 yards passing and two touchdown passes, was on fire in those first four possessions completing 14 passes out of 18 attempts. Zip it shut here please, but if Leinart isn't the Pac-10's Most Valuable Player at this point, somebody please push the famous Jim Healy laugh track response button.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart has now thrown an incredible 194 passes without an interception.

The Not So Obvious – Call it skill. Call it luck. Call it good play-calling. Trojans' offensive coordinator Norm Chow has combined a Vulcan mindmelt with Leinart's football aplomb to unleash, perhaps, the most powerful offense machine in modern Trojan football history. In Chow and Leinart, this may be as intelligent and football-smart a coach-player combination as seen at the University. Clearly, this is a system that brings the best out of both.

The Obvious – After carving up the Bruins' defense on Saturday, Norm Chow is said to have interviewed with Arizona on Sunday, despite reliable sources that say that Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has had the job the past two weeks.

The Not So Obvious – When Norm Chow sits down with his wife, he will look deeply into his and his family's needs. With everything he could want in terms of talents, money, prestige, and a son that wants to come to USC, is being a head coach something that is missing in Chow's life? As the late John McKay used to say, "It's better to be an assistant coach at USC than a head coach at (we will not name the institution out of respect)."

The Obvious – After the UCLA game, Trojans' coach Pete Carroll said, "There was nothing we couldn't do. We were in total command."

The Not So Obvious – One thing Pete couldn't control was Washington State's loss to Washington, a loss that could come back to haunt the Trojans in the final BCS rating. It was the Cougars' sixth consecutive loss in the Apple Cup. Perhaps even bigger, it's too bad that Pete couldn't have controlled LSU losing to Mississippi.

The Obvious – Defensive nose tackle Mike Patterson from Los Alamitos High returned a fumble 52 yards for a Trojan score to up the margin to 40-2.

The Not So Obvious – If you ever needed an example of the speed of the Trojans' defensive line, Patterson displayed it in astonishing fashion. Big Mike hauled his 285 pounds down the field like a glutton seeing the Rio buffet sign in Las Vegas.

The Obvious – UCLA quarterback Drew Olson was sacked six times by the Trojans' defense.

The Not So Obvious – If you ever wonder what a UCLA quarterback looks like after a six-sack beating from the Wild Bunch and company, you only needed to see Olson after the game returning to the team bus. The kid's face was puffy and red, with an assortment of bruises. He now joins an exclusive Wild Bunch 2 quarterback club.

The Obvious – The injury factor for the Trojans continues to mount as they approach the last game of the year against Oregon State on Dec. 6.

The Not So Obvious – It was a bad day for Trojans named John, as both starting offensive guard John Drake and No. 2 quarterback John David Booty suffered broken bones in their ankle and left wrist, respectively. Drake's loss is especially tough for the Trojans, for the kid was becoming a major factor with his strength and desire. Booty, who was already having a tough day with a fumble, was crushed by the Bruins' defensive end Dave Ball and is lucky to have his jambalaya still in tact.

The Obvious – The Bruins' Dave Ball and his senior class were as "down" as UCLA players could be finishing their careers having never beaten the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – After the game outside the Coliseum, Dave Ball was the second of the Ball Bruin twins to join their family outside the Coliseum. When he approached his father, Dave's sister, Lisa, with watery eyes, gave her "little" brother a consolation hug.

The Obvious – Normally, the Trojans' game program is $4 per copy, but Saturday's price was raised to $5 per sale.

The Not So Obvious – Oh that extra dollar in revenue adds up when you have a crowd of over 93,000 up from the 73,000 average.

The Obvious – USC was led in rushing by sophomore tailback Hershel Dennis, who had 69 yards in just 12 carries, 62 of those yards were produced in the first half.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans rushed 34 times compared to 41 pass attempts. The longest run of the day for the Trojans belonged to Agoura High walk-on Andre Woodert, who had a 22-yard sprint near the end of the game. Good for the kid.

The Obvious – The Trojans offensive line gave the Bruins a good look at why they are considered the Pac-10's finest.

The Not So Obvious – After Trojan offensive guard John Drake went down with his broken ankle and was replaced by sophomore Fred Matua, Trojans fans took a deep breath when all-everything senior left tackle Jacob Rogers went down early in the second quarter. Rogers pounded the Coliseum turf with his fist in anger, but later returned. He was held out later in the game being replaced by seniors Eric Torres and Nate Steinbacher.

The Obvious – The Trojans' Spirit of Troy, under the direction of Arthur C. Bartner, came marching into the Coliseum down the steps of the peristyle end.

The Not So Obvious - Prior to the game, the UCLA Marching Band, under the direction of veteran Gordon Henderson, came marching in through the famous Coliseum tunnel and intentionally played the Bruins' fight song, "Sons of Westwood", behind the end zone where the Trojans were warming up.

The Obvious – Prior to the game, the UCLA team huddled at mid-field and stomped on the "SC" logo before returning to their locker room prior to kickoff.

The Not So Obvious – There was almost an incident at the end of the half when both teams were leaving the field. The officials and Trojan coaches were needed to prevent the aroused Trojans and the angry Bruins from entering the tunnel at the same time. Trojans players were jumping up and down as UCLA was running by into the tunnel. Trojan coach Ed Orgeron prevented the SC team from proceeding up the ramp with the Bruins in what could have been an ugly confrontation of emotion.

The Obvious – Both teams displayed erratic special teams play, which included blocked kicks, poor punts, kickoff coverage boners, and extra-point snafus.

The Not So Obvious – If the Trojans are to reach New Orleans and play the Sooners, USC special teams will have to continue to improve as the Bruins know first hand what damage Oklahoma special teams can do.

The Obvious – Fans of both teams and viewers on television got a chance to see two of the best freshmen backs around in the Trojans' Reggie Bush and LenDale White and UCLA's Maurice Drew.

The Not So Obvious – While Bush and Drew had electrifying kickoff returns for touchdowns, both showed they need to hold on to the football as both fumbled during the game. Bush's fumble at the goal line was especially disappointing for Troy, and Bush lost the ball three times for the Bruins, though one miscue was recovered by UCLA. You can bet Bush will get special attention this week from Trojans' running back coach Kennedy Pola, who will also remind Bush not to carry the football away from his body, a typical high school habit.

The Obvious – The Trojan Walk before the game included running back recruit Adrian Peterson (6-3, 207) from Palestine, Texas, considered by many the nation's finest.

The Not So Obvious – Talk about a stud-looking back, Peterson came walking in with his Palestine letterman's jacket complete with award patches on the sleeves also highlighting his track prowess. Powerfully built and very mature looking, he looks much bigger than current Trojan tailback LenDale White. Don't get too excited Trojan fans, it is said that he is a "done deal" to Oklahoma. Of course, many moons ago, tailback Ricky Williams from San Diego was a lock to SC but took a "just-for-the-heck-of-it trip" to Texas, and you know how that went.

The Obvious – There was a huge group of recruits at Saturday's game as "radio personality" Garry P. has pointed out on our main page.

The Not So Obvious – With the Coliseum in full Trojan regatta and triumph, SC fans should be awaiting the word of wide receiver recruit Dwayne Jarrett from New Brunswick, who was in attendance on Saturday. Originally thought to be a huge Trojan lean, Jarrett (6-4, 190) has been swayed, naturally, by his other visits. If the Trojans can't complete the deal after Saturday's showcase, it wasn't meant to be. One areas of concern for Jarrett is the understandable family issue. Stay tuned.

The Obvious – USC receivers Mike Williams and Keary Colbert, perhaps the best pair of starting receivers in Trojan history, combined for 15 catches and 222 yards against UCLA.

The Not So Obvious – Not a bad day for Mike Williams and Keary Colbert to show their talents. Watching the pair in person on Saturday were Keyshawn Johnson, Lynn Swann, and Sam Dickerson, a Trojan receiver who will always be remembered for his game- winning touchdown reception with 1:32 remaining in the closed corner of the end zone to beat the Bruins 14-12. That famous touchdown pass, of course, was delivered by sophomore quarterback Jimmy Jones from Harrisburg, PA and thank you very much.

The Obvious – The USC defense held the Bruins to 11 yards rushing.

The Not So Obvious – My how times have changed. Gone is the era of dominant Bruin offensive linemen that once tilted the scale to Westwood. With USC offensive and defensive line recruiting in Full Monty, it may be a long time before UCLA recaptures their once dominant stride.

The Obvious – As the Trojan Marching Band was concluding our national anthem, there was a four-jet fly-over.

The Not So Obvious – No matter how many times you see it, it is still quite a sight to see those jets THAT close and disciplined streaking over the Coliseum. Later, the pilots made their way to the game and were introduced to the huge gathering.

The Obvious – USC freshman receiver Steve Smith had four catches for 27 yards.

The Not So Obvious – Although his numbers were not great, the Trojan are going more to Smith as their third receiver. Freshman Smith has shown some sharp instincts when he gets the ball and could be the next Keary Colbert..

The Obvious – The Trojans' outstanding junior linebacker Matt Grootegoed was held out again, and wonders if he will play again this season.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans now know after a number of weeks why Pete Carroll is so high on sophomore linebacker Dallas Sartz, Grootegoed's replacement. The kid was all over the field, and he worked nicely in concert with Champ Simmons and Lofa Tatupu to limit the Bruins' production. On one play, Sartz almost decapitated Bruin quarterback Drew Olson.

The Obvious – When USC was going through its Hackett era of poorly coached teams, the number of penalties would always indicate how badly things were going.

The Not So Obvious – On Saturday, the Trojan were penalized six times for 60 years, while the Bruins were zinged 13 times for 104 yards, a sure indication of a team in severe dysfunction.

The Obvious – So Monday will provide yet another release of the BCS rankings, and the Trojans figure to regain their No. 2 spot followed by pesky Louisiana State University.

The Not So Obvious – With the third and final bye week, the Trojans can continue to heal some wounds, and the Trojan staff can put in some valued recruiting time. With a Rose Bowl berth in the bag if needed, Troy seems in control of their gridiron fortunes through the Thanksgiving holidays. One thing they can't control, however, is the outcome of Saturday's Arkansas at LSU contest, a game in Baton Rouge that the Trojans hope is closest the Tigers get to New Orleans this season.

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