O/NSO - UCLA preview edition

"Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again." There will be no Simon and Garfunkel Sounds of Silence at the sold-out Rose Bowl this Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. when the Arroyo Seco erupts in four hours of fire and fury as the top-ranked USC Trojans (11-0, 7-0 Pac-10) and the UCLA Bruins (6-4, 4-3) collide in the 74th edition of the nation's most intense city rivalry.

The Obvious – "Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk with you again." There will be no Simon and Garfunkel Sounds of Silence at the sold-out Rose Bowl this Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. when the Arroyo Seco erupts in four hours of fire and fury as the top-ranked USC Trojans (11-0, 7-0 Pac-10) and the UCLA Bruins (6-4, 4-3) collide in the 74th edition of the nation's most intense city rivalry.

The Not So Obvious – The beauty of this annual struggle between the Trojans and the Bruins is how the entire southern California region takes sides in the greatest sports day in Los Angeles. The majority of the local population never even attended either university, but come this glorious afternoon, even students at UC Irvine, Pepperdine, Biola, and ELAC take sides in this one. THIS IS THE BIG ONE!

The Obvious – Should the Trojans beat the Bruins, they will be all but assured the top seed in the BCS championship and a spot in the 2005 Orange Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – If the Bruins win, there would be a three-way tie for third in the Pac-10 with Oregon State and Arizona State, and if they lose, it would create a two-way tie for fifth place with Oregon. For coach Karl Dorrell's Bruins, a loss puts the Westwooders in Phoenix with a match with Notre Dame, but a loss for the Trojans still presents a tender consolation prize in the 2005 Rose Bowl game against Michigan.

The Obvious – The Men of Troy are out to win their sixth consecutive game against the admittedly frustrated and optimistic Bruins.

The Not So Obvious - Should coach Pete Carroll's lads accomplish their 12th win of the season courtesy of the Bruins, all eyes will turn to Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. (PST) when ABC presents the Tostitos BCS Selection Show to make the official announcement that the Cardinal and Gold have punched their ticket for Miami and the BCS championship in the Orange Bowl.

The Obvious – On regional television this week, UCLA coach Karl Dorrell, perhaps feeling the intensity of the big game that he felt as a player, commented that his Bruins were looking forward to playing the No. 1 team in the country and said, " We're going to give them all they can handle."

The Not So Obvious – If you ever wondered who Trojans wanted to beat more, Notre Dame or UCLA, consider if the Trojans' two rivals played each other, Trojan fans would root for the Domers to cream the Bruins.

The Obvious – The Trojans opened a 20 1/2 favorite over the Bruins.

The Not So Obvious – What the Trojans don't know is which team, much like Notre Dame, will show up. Will it be the Bruins that crushed Stanford, 21-0, a team that gave the Trojan fits, or the blue and gold team that was shocked the following week at home by Washington State 31-29, a team that Troy destroyed 42-12 in Pullman? The Trojans are 4-7 in the Rose Bowl against the Bruins, although Troy has won the last two in Pasadena.

The Obvious – The weather forecast for Saturday's game is for partly sunny skies and a high of 65.

The Not So Obvious – The real forecast is whether the Bruins' light defensive front four can withstand a massive Trojan offensive line that figures to attack the UCLA with a relentless attack of tailbacks in Pac-10 Co-Offensive Player of the Year Reggie Bush and Second-Team All-Pac-10 selection LenDale White.

The Obvious – ABC will televise Saturday's game nationally with kickoff at 1:30 p.m. (PST).

The Not So Obvious - This is ABC's big day with their championship series in showing the Trojans and Bruins and later the Big 12 Championship featuring No. 2 Oklahoma and Colorado. The good news is Keith Jackson, Dan Fouts, and Todd Harris will again do the Trojans-Bruins. Last week, both Jackson and Fouts agreed the greatest college football team they had ever seen was the 1972 Trojans, a team Fouts actually played against.

The Obvious – Most experts agree, the most important USC-UCLA game was the 1967 game featuring tailback O.J. Simpson for the Trojans and quarterback Gary Beban for the Bruins.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday's game has a number of similarities to that 1967 game. In 1967, the national and Pac-10 championship was at stake, as well as the Heisman Trophy. This Saturday, the national championship and the undisputed Pac-10 championship is on the line as well as Heisman repercussions.

The Obvious – The Trojans have won 31 of their last 32 games.

The Not So Obvious – The Bruins have won 17 of their last 32 games.

The Obvious – Both teams have explosive offensive attacks and respected offensive coordinators in the Trojans' legendary Norm Chow and the Bruins' Tom Cable.

The Not So Obvious – Chow and Cable were neither quarterbacks, running backs, or receivers in their collegiate playing careers. In fact, both were offensive guards with Chow opening holes at Utah and Cable doing the same at Idaho.

The Obvious – There is little question that a major key to the game will be the Trojans' defensive line's ability to control the Bruins' rushing attack that goes over 206 yards per game.

The Not So Obvious – With the Trojans allowing only 80.6 yards rushing per game, perhaps the most intriguing contests will be the battle of Trojans' All-Pac-10 senior tackles Shaun Cody (6-4, 295) and Mike Patterson ( 6-0, 290) with the Bruins All-Pac-10 second-teamers junior center Mike McCloskey (6-5, 274) and strong guard Steve Vieira (6-6, 274). Patterson vs McCloskey and Cody vs Vieira could really be a major factor.

The Obvious – Notre Dame had great rushing success against the Trojans, especially in attacking the edges of the Trojans' front.

The Not So Obvious – The Bruins have a fine offensive tackle in senior Paul Mociler (6-6, 295), who will test the Trojans' defensive ends. It will be interesting if UCLA puts in some designated cutback plays, which really hurt the Trojans against the Irish.

The Obvious – The Trojans are 3-0 when they play the Bruins as the nation's number one team.

The Not So Obvious - The 1962 Trojans featured quarterback Pete Bethard and tight end Hal Bedsole and had a tough 14-3 victory over the Bruins. The 1967 Trojans, led by tailback O.J. Simpson and linebacker Adrian Young, edged the Bruins, 21-20, highlighted by the historical 64-yard O.J. run. The legendary 1972 Trojans pounded UCLA, 24-3, behind the force of five All-Americans.

The Obvious – Trojan coach Pete Carroll is 3-0 against the Bruins.

The Not So Obvious – Bruins' coach Karl Dorrell is 0-1 as the UCLA head coach but was 3-1 as a player.

The Obvious – The Trojans will bring to the Rose Bowl a number of all-star performers including Pac-10 Co-Offensive players of the Year in quarterback Matt Leinart and tailback Reggie Bush, Co-Defensive Player of the Year in defensive tackle Shaun Cody, and All-Pac-10 first-team selections in defensive tackle Mike Patterson, linebackers Matt Grootegoed and Lofa Tatupu, and punter Tom Malone.

The Not So Obvious - The Bruins will challenge the Trojans with two All-Pac-10 first-team selections in defensive back Matt Clark and place kicker Justin Medlock, who could have a major impact if Saturday's game is tight in the final quarter.

The Obvious – The Rose Bowl has sold all 91,136 seats for Saturday's City Championship.

The Not So Obvious – It figures that the Rose Bowl will appear very cardinal on Saturday as the Bruins gave the Trojans' ticket office 35,000 seats and, of course, they were sold in a hurry. The real question is how many more Trojan fans will get tickets from other sources? The Rose Bowl could look very much like a Wisconsin Rose Bowl takeover.

The Obvious – One of the most challenging aspects of a game at the Rose Bowl is driving to the Rose Bowl and parking.

The Not So Obvious – Well, let's get readdddddy to drive. Rose Bowl lots will open at 7:00 a.m. and don't forget to write down the section where you are parked. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find your car in the dark at the Rose Bowl.

The Obvious – The Bruins have three tailbacks in Maurice Drew, Manuel Wright, and Chris Markey, who all have had 100-yard rushing games, which brings a sense of urgency for the Trojans All-Pac-10 middle linebacker junior Lofa Tatupu to play inspite of a painful sternum injury.

The Not So Obvious – Ironically, the Bruins also may be without tailback Maurice Drew with a lingering ankle problem. Trojans fans should be respectful of backup Chris Markey ( 5-11, 195), a true freshman from Luling, Louisiana, who reminds the O/NSO of Notre Dame freshman Darius Walker. This kid is a former Mr. Football in the Bayou state and the kid has skills.

The Obvious – Both universities have wonderful guided tours for prospective students.

The Not So Obvious – This past week, a group of students from an Orange County high school took a Bruin campus tour. When their tour guides were asked if they were going to the game on Saturday, the two girls said they would be there, but the male guide said, " I went to the last two but we got killed. I don't need to see it a third time." As the story goes, the male guide repeatedly reminded his group that USC is the No. 1 team in the country when recounting numerous rivalry stories.

The Obvious – Both the Daily Trojan and the Daily Bruin have been running extensive coverage of Saturday's game.

The Not So Obvious – In one of this week's most stunning Daily Bruin articles, UCLA senior staff writer Derek Lazzaro came out of the Trojan closet and wrote an article explaining why he would be rooting for the Trojans. Lazzaro said, " Before you call me a traitor, let me say I have a good reason for my allegiance. I come from a USC family . My parents went to USC, and my grandfather has worked there for 50 years as a senior vice president and vice president emeritus. And besides, it's fun to root for a team that actually wins games. From my perspective, USC simply does a better job of making people feel like they are part of the family – the Trojan family."

The Obvious – The local media has also done a fine job of covering this year's game.

The Not So Obvious – The OC Register is running a USC-UCLA senior spotlight, which features players from both teams and their comments about the rivalry. Despite the recent poundings taken by the Bruins, All-Pac-10 corner Matt Clark said, " We have the same talent as USC, but we just weren't able to put it together these last couple of games, and it hurts a lot."

The Obvious – The Bruins' secondary and linebackers will be well tested by Norm Chow to defend the Trojans' Star Wars offense.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans Mike Williams is no longer around to torment the Bruins' secondary, but with Steve Smith returning to his starting receiving role on Saturday along with Dwayne Jarrett and tight end Dominique Byrd, the Bruins may have their hands full more than they realize.

The Obvious – The Trojans' offense is averaging 37.4 points per game.

The Not So Obvious – The UCLA defense is allowing 25.6 points per game.

The Obvious – USC All-America quarterback Matt Leinart, coming off a five touchdown and 400-yard devastation of Notre Dame last weekend, will bring his gaudy passing statistics to the Rose Bowl and has positioned himself to win the Heisman with another standout performance on national television.

The Not So Obvious – The Bruins will hope that their improved offense under the guidance of respected coordinator Tom Cable will be able to make more than a dent against the vaunted Trojan defense. UCLA quarterback Drew Olson has thrown for 18 touchdowns to ran fifth on the UCLA single-season list. In his last six games, Olson as thrown at a 59% clip with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Obvious – The USC defense is allowing 11.5 points per game.

The Not So Obvious – The UCLA offense is averaging 31.6 points per game.

The Obvious – Last week, thousands of Trojan fans entering the Coliseum early received Anthony Davis trading cards.

The Not So Obvious – The first 10,000 fans on Saturday dressed in Bruin Blue will receive a free set of UCLA football trading cards. Well, the O/NSO knows of at least 35,000 fans that won't cut the color identification requirement.

The Obvious – In their own styles, the Trojans' Reggie Bush and the Bruins' Maurice Drew are two of the most explosive runners in the country.

The Not So Obvious – While Reggie's number speak for themselves, it should be noted that Drew averages 40.63 on each of his eight rushing touchdowns. Drew credits Bush with helping him compete as a player in Los Angeles. Drew said, " He (Bush) has helped me become a better player. He returned a punt one week and I try to do it the next week. We compete."

The Obvious – Pete Carroll concluded his fourth November schedule without losing a game.

The Not So Obvious – Carroll is 1-1 in December having beaten Oregon State, 52-28, last year in the final game of the regular season and losing to Utah, 10-6, in the Las Vegas Bowl in his first season. Karl Dorrell is 0-1 in December having lost to Fresno State, 17-9, last year in the Silicon Valley Classic.

The Obvious – The Trojans will be wearing their away uniforms to the Rose Bowl, although many wish each team could wear their home uniforms like the old days that ended in 1981.

The Not So Obvious – Most fans are aware the Bruins will wear blue and gold, the UCLA colors. However, did you know the blue stands for the Pacific Ocean and the Gold is symbolic of California's gold rush?

The Obvious – Both teams feature physical tailbacks in the Trojans All-Pac-10 second-team selection LenDale White (6-2, 235) and Bruins' senior Manuel White ( 6-2, 245).

The Not So Obvious – While both can really punish a defender both have the ability to move the pile and break a big one, each has surprising speed for their size.

The Obvious – "Fight On" is the official fight song of the Trojans while "Sons of Westwood" is the official fight song of the Bruins.

The Not So Obvious – In the "Fight On" lyrics, there is no mention of UCLA. However, in "Sons of Westwood", there is mention of the Trojans. The final lyrics says, "And if by chance you see/ a man from USC/ every Bruin starts to roar!"

The Obvious – The Trojans will start true freshman sensation Jeff Byers at left guard in place of the healing senior John Drake.

The Not So Obvious – The Bruins, too, will start a true freshman in La Mirada's Shannon Tevaga (6-3,295), a player that came to a number of Trojan practices as a senior and considered Troy at one point in his recruiting.

The Obvious – In the Trojans' respected media guide, the publication traditionally has not displayed facial photos of their freshmen in the individual bios.

The Not So Obvious – The UCLA media guide does have facial photos of most of their players in the individual bios. However, some of the photos are from graduation, the prom, or just your standard player in a football uniform pose.

The Obvious – The Trojans secondary will be challenged by the Bruins' duo of Craig Bragg and the return of Tab Perry.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans' corners of redshirt freshman Eric Wright and Justin Wyatt have done an outstanding job for the most part in cementing a spot that was of concern earlier. They will be tested by Bragg, who has become UCLA's all-time receiving leader with 180 receptions. Craig (6-2, 195) has 20 touchdowns in his career and 11 have come from 40 yards and beyond. One of the weakness of the Bruins' wide receivers has been a case of dropping the football on more than one occasion.

The Obvious – Saturday's game will showcase three of the best tight ends in college football in the Trojans Dominique Byrd and Alex Holmes and UCLA's Marcedes Lewis.

The Not So Obvious – Both Byrd and Holmes have been major factors for Norm Chow's offense and Lewis has really come on for the Bruins. Marcedes (6-6, 255) has really developed as a tight end after giving up UCLA basketball. Like Byrd, Lewis is a major threat, but it will be interesting to see how he deals with former Long Beach Poly teammate and Trojan strong safety Darnell Bing (6-2, 220), when the two inevitably collide at some point on Saturday.

The Obvious – The Trojans have still allowed only one touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Not So Obvious – The Bruins have allowed only six touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

The Obvious – The Trojans' place kicker Ryan Killeen made a nice comeback from a slump with two field goals against Notre Dame last weekend.

The Not So Obvious – A major scoring threat for UCLA is their All-Pac-10 place kicker Justin Medlock, the sophomore from Fremont, California. Medlock , who was a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award for the nation's finest place kicker, has two field goals over 50 yards this season (50& 52).

The Obvious – Over the years at halftime of home games in the Coliseum, Art Bartner's Trojan Marching Band has had a guest conductor from the world of motion pictures or the music industry.

The Not So Obvious – Fans at Saturday's game will be treated by Gordon Henderson's UCLA Marching Band that will feature a halftime with motion picture composer Bill Conti, who will conduct music from some of his famous movie scores including "Rocky," "For Your Eyes Only," and "The Right Stuff." If you must know, the Bruins' band will be facing the pressbox.

The Obvious – The Trojans punter Tom Malone was selected All-Pac-10 punter with an average of 43.66

The Not So Obvious – UCLA's Chris Kluwe was right behind Malone at 43.25. We can surmise that .66 edged out .25 for first-team selection.

The Obvious – UCLA lost its last home game, 31-29, to Washington State.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans have won their last eight road games.

The Obvious – The Trojans and the Bruins are not the only big televised game on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Assuming the Trojans take care of their gridiron business, cardinal and gold fans can measure Troy's potential opponents on the tube. At 3:00 p.m. on CBS, there is the SEC Championship with No. 3 Auburn facing Tennessee. At 5:00 p.m. on ABC, it's the Big 12 Championship wit No. 2 Oklahoma and Colorado. Other games of note include No. 4 Cal at Southern Mississippi (4:45 p.m./ESPN), No. 12 Virginia Tech at No. 10 Miami (10:00 a.m./ABC), and the traditional Army-Navy game (11:30 a.m./CBS).

The Obvious – So it has all come down a Saturday in Pasadena. What all started in late August with Virginia Tech on the East Coast will finish with UCLA on the West Coast and the Trojans are poised yet again with a date football history.

The Not So Obvious – Will the Trojans be facing the UCLA ghosts of upsets past, conjuring up memories of quarterbacks Gary Beban, Norman Dow, and John Barnes or will the top-ranked Trojans punish the Bruins with a relentless team attack that left Notre Dame spinning and helped send coach Tyrone Willingham packing? There is no better setting to find out than the Rose Bowl, the Trojans' home away from home.


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