O/NSO - UCLA preview edition

A BCS national championship invitation, a singular Pac-10 championship, the Heisman Trophy, monumental streaks of record, combatant smack-talk, and they'll all intersect on Saturday afternoon at a sold out Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as the top-ranked USC Trojans (11-0, 7-0 Pac-10) finally engage the No. 11 UCLA Bruins (10-1, 6-1) in the 75th meeting of the country's greatest cross-town rivalry before 92,000 fans and a national television audience (1:30 p.m., PST, ABC).

The Obvious – A BCS national championship invitation, a singular Pac-10 championship, the Heisman Trophy, monumental streaks of record, combatant smack-talk, and they'll all intersect on Saturday afternoon at a sold out Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as the top-ranked USC Trojans (11-0, 7-0 Pac-10) finally engage the No. 11 UCLA Bruins (10-1, 6-1) in the 75th meeting of the country's greatest cross-town rivalry before 92,000 fans and a national television audience (1:30 p.m., PST, ABC).

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps not since the great 1967 game, which featured all of the above mentioned Hollywood glitz and glamour, has a Trojan/Bruin game displayed such enormous gridiron star power and high rent ticket demand. With a 33-game Trojan winning streak, a six-game winning streak over the Bruins, a gaudy invitational guest list of high school superstars and celebrity viewing, the stakes are enormous for the Trojans on Saturday afternoon, but who's willing to say after heart-pounding wins at Notre Dame and with Fresno State, this cardinal and gold season of destiny is going to fall at the feet of the Trojans' bitter rivals from Westwood?

The Obvious – The Trojans, riding a 26-game Coliseum home winning streak and a record 32nd straight AP poll as numero uno, opened a whopping 22-point favorite to hand the Bruins their seventh consecutive rivalry defeat.

The Not So Obvious – There is the conventional wisdom that when these two local adversaries get together, you can throw out all the point spreads and statistics. Perhaps there is some credence to this point spread, when you consider the Trojans placed the most players on the All-Pac-10 first team with nine selections, including the only unanimous selection by Pac-10 coaches, All-America tailback Reggie Bush. UCLA, on the other Lexus gauntlet, placed just one Pac-10 first-team player, tight end Mercedes Lewis, on either side of the ball. But then again, this is USC versus UCLA and we know all too well the rags-to-riches names of Norman Dow, John Barnes, and even the Trojans' John Fox.

The Obvious – The Trojans are confident their near impregnable Coliseum winning streak will have an effect on Saturday's game.

The Not So Obvious – In 38 Pac-10 Conference games to date, the home teams have 18 wins and the visitors 21. Of course, Troy has won the last four UCLA games at the Coliseum with the Powder Blues last visiting victory coming back in 1997 (31-24).

The Obvious – In honor of this week's great rivalry, former Trojan All-America tailback Anthony Davis spoke on Wednesday night to a sold out gathering at the WeAreSC monthly dinner at the Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro.

The Not So Obvious - Of the game against the Bruins on Saturday, Davis said, " Too many horses. How can a bear compete with a horse? If they (USC) play on all cylinders, the truth is USC beats up people in the fourth quarter. I have some experience playing on No. 1 teams. They rise to the occasion." Old No. 28 did say he expected the Bruins to challenge the Trojans with some intense enthusiasm.

The Obvious – Talk shows are alive in Los Angeles giving predictions and analyzing everything and anything about both clubs.

The Not So Obvious – In attendance at the WeAreSC dinner was 12-year-old Ryan Davidson, the "fight on" cancer survivor from Wisconsin and the Trojans' No. 1 fan. His courageous story has captured the love and affection of the entire cardinal and gold universe. Ryan and his family are in Los Angeles for Saturday's big game and as expected, Ryan predicts a Trojan victory because he "watched what Arizona did to UCLA." Well, who's to argue with that simplistic logic? As if the heavy underdog Bruins didn't have enough challenges, once Pete Carroll's Trojans see the angel-faced Ryan, that point-spread just might need to be reevaluated.

The Obvious – Weather forecast for Saturday's titanic at the Coliseum calls for mostly sunny and a high of 65 degrees.

The Not So Obvious – The real weather forecast is whether the Trojan defense can hold the powerful Bruin offense to enough poor field position and three-and-outs to allow the paper mache UCLA defense, a unit with no All-Pac-10 first-team performers, to be subjected to an overwhelming number of snaps by the Trojan offense. Like a WWF tag team match, the fate of Saturday's contest may rest on the shoulders of the Trojans' All-Pac-10 first-team backfield duo of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush and the Bruins counterpart All-Pac-10 second-team duet of Drew Olson and Maurice Drew.

The Obvious – Saturday's game will be telecast at 1:30 p.m. (PST) on ABC with Keith Jackson, Dan Fouts, and Todd Harris.

The Not So Obvious – Of the Trojans' incomparable offense awaiting the Bruins, Keith Jackson told the NY Post "This is the best offense I've seen. The 1971 Nebraska group was phenomenal in their time, but they didn't have all the things these guys have. I've gone back and looked at some footage so I don't sound like a fool. I'm totally convinced USC is the best ever."

The Obvious - The Trojans lead the series 40-27-7, having won the last six years, including last year's game, a game in which the Trojans are surely sick and tired of hearing that the 29-24 win over the Bruins was a "lucky" victory, tainted by some late "bad calls by the officials."

The Not So Obvious – Like a heavyweight championship fight, expect Pete Carroll, who is 4-0 against the Powder Blues, to wave the three knockdown rule. If given the opportunity, the Trojans will pinball the Coliseum scoreboard on the Bruins. With the joint full of some of the best prep players in the land like Alabama lineman Andre Smith, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and running back Marcus Sims, Colorado lineman Butch Lewis, Texas running back Mike Goodson, and SoCal linebacker Allen Bradford, there won't be any mercy compassion and the Trojans will be out to leave "No Doubt."

The Obvious – Like in the old days, both the Trojans and the Bruins are courting a number of recruits that will be in attendance.

The Not So Obvious - Anthony Davis, who stayed after the WeAreSC dinner at the Papadakis Tarverna to sign personalized autographs on a beautiful color picture of a run against the Bruins, recalled his recruiting battle between USC and UCLA coming out of San Fernando High. Davis revealed, "When James McAllister (a prep All-America running back from Pasadena Blair) decided on UCLA, I decided I was going to SC. Marv Goux took me aside and said,‘You go to SC and you get meat and potatoes. If you go to UCLA, you get cookies and milk.'"

The Obvious – The Trojans' Pete Carroll and the Bruins' Karl Dorrell were named Pac-10 co-Coaches of the Year.

The Not So Obvious – A Trojan win by Carroll and the road to the College Football Hall of Fame lays more pavement. A Bruin upset victory by Dorrell and he emblazons his name along legendary Bruin coaches Tommy Prothro and Terry Donahue.

The Obvious – Trojan senior punter Tom Malone (42.3) looks to be in his best physical shape in a long time and the bye week probably benefited the Lake Elsinore native as much as anybody.

The Not So Obvious – While most are talking about the match between the rival quarterbacks, running backs, and lines, the O/NSO believes that Malone could be as big a factor as any. With the Bruins' Maurice Drew (29.1 per return) statistically the best punt returner in the country, the type of punts, direction, and hang time will be critical. It was a 96-yard punt return touchdown last year by the Bruins' graduated Craig Bragg that brought UCLA back from the dead. Might Malone by design punt'em deep and out of bounds? It has certainly been done before against the Trojans' Reggie Bush.

The Obvious – The Trojans offense, which had all 11 starters receiving All-Pac-10 on either the first team, second team or honorable mention, is averaging 48.6 points per game, second best in the country.

The Not So Obvious – UCLA's defense, which had only one All-Pac-10 second-team selection, is allowing 30.6 points per game, seventh in the Pac-10.

The Obvious – The Trojans offense line, led by All-Pac-10 first-team studs Taitusi Lutui, Ryan Kalil and Sam Baker, will try and obliterate the undersized Bruins patchwork defensive line.

The Not So Obvious – Don't think that the Trojans physical offensive line, which also features All-Pac-10 second team selection Fred Matua, hasn't been paying attention to the Bruins during the season. Trojan All-Pac-10 honorable mention offensive tackle Winston Justice said, "Every time you turn on ESPN, you see Maurice Drew scoring touchdowns. You can't help but follow them," It won't be hard to convince the Trojan offense that they will need to score points, control the ball, and keep it away from the potent Bruin offense.

The Obvious – The Bruins start sophomore Brigham Harwell (6-1, 274) at one defensive tackle spot.

The Not So Obvious – The irony to Harwell playing defensive tackle is that's what Pete Carroll basically recruited Brigham to play when the kid was coming out of Los Altos High and idolized Shaun Cody, also an alum of Los Altos. Harwell wanted to play linebacker and didn't like the truthful recruiting pitch of the Trojans. Well, old Pete turned out to be right and the kid went from linebacker to defensive end to defensive tackle. Harwell is very quick but figures to be challenged by the Trojans' attacking girth and athleticism.

The Obvious – On Saturday, the Trojans will salute athletic director Mike Garrett on the 40th anniversary of his Heisman Trophy selection, the Cardinal and Gold's first.

The Not So Obvious – Call it a Twilight Zone coincidence or shrewd Trojan marketing, but both Garrett and Reggie Bush are the featured photos on Saturday's game ticket.

The Obvious – Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year Reggie Bush will have one last time to impress Heisman Voters, who have till Dec. 7 to get their votes in.

The Not So Obvious - Commenting on Reggie Bush, Anthony Davis said, " He just broke my (all-purpose) record and it couldn't go to a better guy. He's on another planet. He's one of the greatest that has ever come through and one of the greatest clutch players. It's like he's running from the police."

The Obvious – The UCLA offense is averaging 40 points per game, sixth in the country.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans defense is allowing 21.5 points per game, second best in the Pac-10.

The Obvious – The Bruin offense all starts with senior quarterback Drew Olson (6-3, 225), the former Piedmont High star, who has had an out-of-his-mind 2005 campaign, completing 67 percent of his passes along with 30 touchdowns and a passing efficiency rate of 172.47.

The Not So Obvious – Olson's passing efficiency is actually better than the Trojans' Matt Leinart, the Johnny Unitas Award winner for best senior college quarterback. It this game comes down to the execution of Olson and Leinart, the one thing that has put Lefty above all the others, including the likes of Notre Dame's Brady Quinn and Fresno State's Paul Pinegar, it's his game management skills and ability to audibilize at the most critical moment. We think this will be the difference in the game as Leinart, the 2004 Heisman winner, will make up for last year's game with the Bruins, a game in which he threw for 242 yards but no touchdowns. Don't look for a no-touchdown, repeat performance.

The Obvious - Last year against the Trojans, Drew Olson threw for 278 yards and one touchdown but had two interceptions.

The Not So Obvious - If Olson gets a running game, he will probably equal or even surpass last year's total yardage. The key will be if he exceeds last year's two interceptions by Troy and that is entirely possible given the Trojans recent interception barrage of eight thefts in their last two games.

The Obvious – The Bruins have studied the Trojans for weeks and it's expected coach Karl Dorrell's club will take the same path as Notre Dame and Fresno State in the ball control, dink, dunk, and run department, an attack that has given the Trojans' defense fits.

The Not So Obvious –The big difference that the O/NSO sees amongst the Irish, Bulldogs, and the Bruins, is the offensive lines. We see coach Karl Dorrell's offensive line as inferior to the Irish and Bulldogs, a good sign for the Trojans. The Men of Troy's front four are simply better athletes and players than the Bruins' offensive line, especially with the loss of Bruin center Mike McCloskey and probable loss of tackle Brian Abraham. Trojan fans should prepare, however, for the dink and dunk attack, with a large dose of tailback Maurice Drew, think screens and draws, and repeated pass attempts to 6-6 tight end Marcedes Lewis, the Pac-10's first-team tight end, who had four receptions for 29 yards and a late four-yard score against the Trojans in 2004.

The Obvious – In anticipation of Saturday's contest, Los Angeles and it's massive media market has been abuzz all this week with a Super Bowl type atmosphere.

The Not So Obvious -You know Saturday's Coliseum headliner is a major event when there is a pre-game flyover.

The Obvious – The Trojans offense is averaging 571.3 yards per game, best in the country.

The Not So Obvious – The UCLA defense is allowing 435.4 yards per game, eighth in the Pac-10.

The Obvious – Lane Kiffin, a former quarterback for Fresno State, is the offensive coordinator for the Trojans while UCLA's director of defense is veteran Larry Kerr, a 1975 graduate of San Jose State, who previously coached for 10 years at Colorado State and earlier with the Terry Donahue Bruin staff.

The Not So Obvious – How each coordinator attacks the other will have as much to do with the outcome as anything. It will be intriguing what happens after Kiffin's scripted 15-20 offensive plays to start the game. If there is a big difference at this point between the two offensive systems, it's the use of the tight ends. UCLA's star senior tight end Marcedes Lewis has 55 catches, 10 touchdown receptions, and is the leading receiver for the Bruins while respected the Trojans' normal starting senior tight end, Dominique Byrd, has 19 catches and no touchdowns (no misprint). However, Kerr's defense still ranks 7th in the Pac-10, a lethal brew when confronting the Trojans' space age offense.

The Obvious – Saturday's game will also be a battle each team's radio teams with the Trojans' 1540 trio of Pete Arbogast, Paul McDonald, and John Jackson and the Bruins' 570 threesome of Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, and Wayne Cook.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday's game will also be nationally broadcast on Westwood One with Joe Meyers and former UCLA tight end, Ricky Walker.

The Obvious – The UCLA offense is averaging 444.4 yards per game, sixth best in the country.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojan defense is allowing 351 yards per game, best in the Pac-10.

The Obvious – The Trojans' defensive coordinator is head coach Pete Carroll, a former two-time all-conference safety at Pacific, and the Bruins offensive coordinator is Tom Cable, a former starting offensive guard for Idaho.

The Not So Obvious – Both coordinators have taken their respected units as far as they can, considering talent and injuries. Carroll's defense, despite it's near catastrophic series of defensive injuries at linebacker and cornerback, remarkably still ranks as the Pac-10's best. The game will probably hinge on the Trojans' ability to contain Cable's well-designed offense, especially the right arm of Drew Olson. Despite the Trojans' perceived defensive woes, they do headline the Pac-10's first-team with the defensive end tandem of senior Frostee Rucker and sophomore Lawrence Jackson, probably the best pair in the country.

The Obvious – The Bruins like to roll and half-roll quarterback Drew Olson out of the pocket so he can better survey the field.

The Not So Obvious – We expect that the strength of the Bruins' passing attack - the mobility of Olson - to play into the strength of the Trojans' dynamic defensive ends. The intensity and violence that Rucker and LoJack bring will be a challenge for Olson. We do see the Bruins trying to neutralize the Trojan tandem with sucker screens and delayed draws. Rucker, second on the Trojans in tackles (50), and Jackson, who leads the team in sacks (7), must set the tone and get into the head of Bruin quarterback Drew Olson early and often.

The Obvious – Starting UCLA junior defensive end Justin Hickman (6-1, 261) is an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection.

The Not So Obvious – Hickman is the son of former Trojan star offensive guard Donnie Hickman, a star during the mid-70s and whose picture is featured in USC press guides. Donnie was a 1976 all-conference selection along with the likes of Trojan legends Ricky Bell, Marvin Powell, and Gary Jeter. No bad company, indeed.

The Obvious – The Trojan rushing offense is averaging 249.2 yards per game, fifth-best in the country.

The Not So Obvious – The UCLA rush defense is allowing 219.5, last in the Pac-10.

The Obvious – It figures, given the past history of the UCLA defensive line, Heisman frontrunner Reggie Bush should have a field day as long as the Trojans keep calling No. 5's number.

The Not So Obvious – If the Trojans' vaunted offensive line can't move out the likes of light UCLA true freshman defensive tackle Chase Moline (6-1, 274), who was playing in the CIF playoffs for champion Mission Viejo this time last year, there should be a call for a federal drug test. Aside from the usual performances by Trojan tackles Sam Baker and Ryan Kalil, a key will be how dominant All-America left guard Deuce Lutui and the emotional right guard Fred Matua are with the undersized Bruins' defensive tackles. Should they do their jobs on Saturday, Reggie Bush should have a highlight afternoon and become the fourth San Diego resident to capture the famed award along with Marcus Allen, Rashaan Salaam and Ricky Williams.

The Obvious – The Bruins must decide how to defend Reggie Bush and LenDale White.

The Not So Obvious – While most figure the day will probably belong to Roadrunner Reggie, the O/NSO believes that LenDale White, who gave Trojan fans a scare with an early week shoulder scare, is the X-factor if healthy for the Bruins. Aside from the fact that White is due for an Arizona State-type game, it's his physical running style which will most challenge the Bruins front seven. White, who averaged 4.7 yards last year against the Bruins, needs to be the sledgehammer inside the Bruins five-yard line. No time to worry about Reggie and the Heisman. If Bush hasn't already sealed the deal by now or throughout Saturday's performance, then it just wasn't meant to be. "Just win, baby!" as former Trojan assistant Al Davis likes say.

The Obvious – The Trojans and the Bruins have big-time linebackers when healthy but both units have been disrupted this season by injuries.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans' middle linebacker junior Oscar Lua (6--1, 240) and the Bruins' senior Spencer Havner (6-4, 245), are both extremely physical and can knock you into LaLa Land. However, the loss of injured Trojan super soph Keith Rivers and the return of Bruin senior Justin London (6-1, 234) may play a key factor. The Trojans certainly could have used Rivers for his speed to track down the likes of Bruin tailbacks Maurice Drew and shifty Chris Markey (5-11, 203), the Louisiana sophomore. The Bruins will have London to help challenge the Trojans' physical offensive line.

The Obvious – Prior to Saturday's kickoff, the Trojans will honor their departing seniors with the Heritage Tunnel.

The Not So Obvious - With a significant gathering of past Trojan stars forming the spirit tunnel, the only question is whether Matt Leinart will be announced as part of the alphabetical order or will Lefty be saved for last?

The Obvious – The UCLA rush offense is averaging 148.9 yards per game.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans rush defense is allowing 116.3 yards per game.

The Obvious – Anybody who thinks Bruin junior tailback Maurice Drew (5-8, 205) is not an All-American is seeing this game with cardinal and gold sunglasses and forgets he was once highly recruited by the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – Drew, who openly says the Bruins are as good as the Trojans and attended the Fresno State game, was injured against the Trojans last year and had minus five-yards rushing in two carries. If there is one play in the Trojans' narrow win against Fresno State that has Pete Carroll on Maurice Drew pins and needles it's the touchdown run by the Bulldogs' Wendell Mathis through the heart of the Trojan defense nearly untouched. Like Reggie Bush, Drew can take it inside and outside at any time. Drew, who admires the style of Barry Sanders, claims to be free of injury, but you can be sure that Pete Carroll will have his defense ready to test the physical resolve of the history major and former Concord De La Salle prep All-American.

The Obvious - If the Trojans' front four gains control of the game, the road to Pasadena will be a lot clearer.

The Not So Obvious - Look for the performance of Trojan sophomore nose guard Sedrick Ellis (6-1, 285) against Bruin junior center Robert Chai (6-3, 285) to play a major factor. Ellis should be able to control this battle but could face a stiffer challenge if injured Bruin senior starter Mike McCloskey (6-5, 280) can manage some playing time. However, the biggest key is probably the performance of Trojan senior tackle LaJuan Ramsey (6-3, 290), who must stuff the Bruins' line and keep Drew from finding a Wendell Mathis opening.

The Obvious – The USC pass offense is averaging 322.1 yards per game, fifth-best in the USA.

The Not So Obvious – The UCLA pass defense is allowing 215.9 yards per game, best in the Pac-10.

The Obvious - Heisman winner Matt Leinart of USC was named first-team All-Pac-10 quarterback for the third straight year.

The Not So Obvious - Matt is just the second player ever to be named the all-conference quarterback three times joining fellow Heisman winner Gary Beban of UCLA, who was so honored in 1965-66-67.

The Obvious – The Trojan receivers led by All-American and All-Pac-10 first-team selection Dwayne Jarrett (14.3 ypc and 14 tds) and Steve Smith (16.7 ypc and 5 tds), who will face perhaps their stiffest challenge in attacking the Bruins' respected secondary.

The Not So Obvious – If the Bruin athletes are equal to the Fresno State secondary and take their cue, the Trojan receivers will be strongly, physically challenged before, during, and after their routes. Bruins three-year starting senior strong safety Jarrod Page (6-2, 220), who says he admires NBA star Allen Iverson, is the lynchpin for the lads from Westwood. He'll get help from soph corner Trey Brown (5-10, 189), the son of former Bruin running back great and Kansas City Chief Theotis "Big Foot" Brown. It really gets down to the Trojans' Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith being physical, holding on to the football, and making the right "reads" on their pass patterns. The Bruins must decide whether to get physical and play some "press" coverage. If Jarrett and Smith can beat the strategy, we could be seeing the Coliseum scoreboard light up like Time Square on New Years Eve.

The Obvious- If the point spread turns out to be correct, the most tired performer may be Traveler, the Trojans' nationally known horse.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday's game will be of special significance for Traveler's rider, Chuck O'Donnell, who will be making his last ride on the famed steed. Quite a Kodak moment when you consider that Chuck took his first Traveler ride at 13-years-old.

The Obvious – The UCLA pass offense is averaging 295.5, fifth in the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojan pass defense is allowing 234.7, fifth in the Pac-10

The Obvious – The Trojans have been able to stop passing attacks when they have stopped the opposition's running attacks.

The Not So Obvious – The fact that Bruin senior quarterback Drew Olson, a history major whose father once captained the UCLA rugby team, is statistically having a better year than the Trojans' Matt Leinart and it's a little frightening, especially when you add the potential of the Bruins' rushing attack. The feeling here is that Trojans' All-Pac-10 super hitting safeties Darnell Bing (first team) and Scott Ware (second team) can and will set the tone early with some physical introductions to the Bruins' possession receivers. The Trojans will need disciplined games from senior corner Justin Wyatt and sophomore Josh Pinkard,

The Obvious – The Bruins were hurt earlier this season when talented senior receiver Junior Taylor, who burned the Trojans last year with five receptions for a team-high 89 yards, was lost due to injury.

The Not So Obvious – Besides tight end Marcedes Lewis, the Bruins have solid possession receivers in 6-1 junior Marcus Everett (12.9 ypc, 1 td), who started as a high school freshman at Chaminade Prep, and talented 6-4 junior Joe Cowan (13.8 ypc, 3 tds), whom the O/NSO liked very much coming out of St. John Bosco. Look for Everett and the taller Cowan, whose father played quarterback at Washington, to test Trojan senior corner Justin Wyatt, in the same manner that Notre Dame tall receiver Jeff Samardzija tested Wyatt. Cowan, who had a touchdown pass against the Trojans last season, also figures to be test the 5-9 Wyatt.

The Obvious – The Trojan kickoff coverage has been "wretched" to be politically correct.

The Not So Obvious – The UCLA kickoff return average of 18.1 ranks last in the Pac-10, a relief for most Trojan fans to learn. A major component on Saturday will be the kickoff distance of freshman Troy Van Blarcom, who has had streaks of touchbacks throughout the season.

The Obvious – The Trojans marching band, known as the Spirit of Troy and directed by the legendary Arthur Bartner, will sit behind the Trojan bench between the 10 and 30-yard line.

The Not So Obvious – The Bruins Marching Band, known as the Solid Gold Sound and under the direction of veteran Gordon Henderson, may have a new performing spot this year at the Coliseum. In the past trips to the Coliseum, the Bruin band has been traditionally placed behind the closed end zone. If past practice this season is continued, Henderson's band will be relocated to the peristyle end on the press box side beyond the end zone.

The Obvious – Trojan field goal kicker Mario Danelo leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage, connecting on 9 of 10 attempts.

The Not So Obvious – Last year, the Trojans needed placekicker Ryan Killeen, who was at Thursday night's WeAreSC dinner seating with Ryan Davidson, to boot a school-record five field goals to ensure victory over the Bruins, the true difference in the game. Trojan fans should feel comfortable with Danelo who has proven his mettle throughout the season.

The Obvious – The Bruins have a long-range, left-footed bomber in junior placekicker Justin Medlock (6-0, 186), a second-team All-Pac-10 selection, who says he patterns himself after New England Patriot kicker Adam Vinatieri.

The Not So Obvious – Last year against the Trojans, Medlock a sociology major, made one of two field goals from 43 and missed from 39 yards out. So far this season, Medlock, sociology major, has converted on 11 of 15 field goal attempts, ranking fourth in the Pac-10.

The Obvious – At this point in the season, the Trojans and the Bruins rely on freshmen to carry some of the load.

The Not So Obvious – Who would have thunk that at this point in the season and with so much on the line the Trojans would be starting New Jersey true freshman Brian Cushing at linebacker and the Bruins would be starting defensive tackle Chase Moline from Mission Viejo?

The Obvious – The Trojans are averaging 66.4 yards in penalties per game, seventh in the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious – UCLA is averaging 54.0 yards in penalties per game, fourth in the Pac-10.

The Obvious – Saturday's 2005 final Trojan home game of the season is a sellout.

The Not So Obvious – The Coliseum sellout insures the Trojans of winning the Pac-10 home attendance standings. Prior to Saturday, the Men of Troy were averaging a conference leading 90,974 and were ranked seventh in NCAA attendance while the Bruins were ranked third in the Pac-10, averaging 64,218 per Rose Bowl contest.

The Obvious –Should the No. 2 Texas Longhorns win the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday and the No. 1 Trojans do their part, fans across the country will immediately begin some intense team comparisons.

The Not So Obvious - Well, you can get a head start to that scenario on Saturday when the No. 2 Longhorns precede the Trojans/Bruins in the Big 12 championship against Colorado on ABC at 10:00 a.m. (PST). Boy, that match-up should get your blood running (yawn). It's the type of championship that makes one appreciate there is no Pac-10 championship game, except for ones like this Saturday's game between the Trojans and the Bruins.

The Obvious – Adding to the intense day will be the return of the ESPN Game Day, the national pregame phenomena.

The Not So Obvious - We'll find out around 8:55 a.m. on Saturday morning if the ESPN Game Day crew, staged in the Christmas Tree Lane of the Coliseum's peristyle end, can survive the response of the locals when Lee "Mel Brooks" Corso puts on either a Trojan helmet or the head piece of a Bruin bear for his game prediction.

The Obvious – By Saturday night, we'll all know the finalists in the BCS but quite possibly not the destinations.

The Not So Obvious – ABC will televise the BCS Bowl Pairings Show on Sunday at 1:00 p.m (PST).

The Obvious – So a regular season with so much expectation and pressure finally culminates on Saturday against the Bruins of UCLA, as it should and the whole country watching.

The Not So Obvious – Rose Bowl? Fiesta Bowl? Sugar Bowl? Orange Bowl? Late Saturday afternoon, we'll know if the Rose Bowl is indeed the Trojans final date with destiny. The strong rumor mill is if the Trojans stub their toes in route to Pasadena, a date in Tempe will be their consolation prize. One thing for certain, a Trojan victory over the Bruins and the Rose Bowl ticket lottery will have cardinal and gold fans praying to their e-mail computer screens, but a loss on Saturday and an alternative trip to Tempe will be no "Fiesta" celebration, even if the Fighting Irish do.


USCFootball.com Top Stories