USC Football Hosts Crosstown Rival UCLA
Nov. 22, 2009
No. 24 USC hosts UCLA in the 79th edition of the famous crosstown rivalry. Not only is post-season positioning at stake, but so are year-long city bragging rights, possession of the Victory Bell and key points in the Crosstown Gauntlet standings. It's a rare night meeting between the Trojans and Bruins (in fact, it's the series' second latest start time ever) and the first time in 30 years that the game is being held on Thanksgiving weekend. Troy has a 30-game winning streak at home at night. Both teams will don their home jerseys. USC is looking to sweep its traditional rivals in 2009, after posting a win at Notre Dame last month. This is Troy's 600th conference game. There are coaches on each staff with connections to the 'other' school, including some Bruin assistants who once worked for Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, and players whose fathers and brothers once wore the opponent's colors. UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel even earned his law degree at USC. Carroll is college football's second winningest active coach (84.1%). USC, playing one of the nation's most challenging schedules, has been ranked in the AP Top 25 for its last 101 games (but has its lowest ranking since 2001). The Trojans are coming off a much-needed bye following a record-setting home loss to Stanford. USC is hoping to shore up a defense that went from one of the nation's best in its first 5 games to one that has surrendered lots of yards and points in the past 5 outings. The Trojans are counting on defenders such as 2-time All-American S Taylor Mays, LB Chris Galippo and DE Everson Griffen (the Pac-10 sack leader). Offensively, USC is looking to become more consistent, guided by the likes of true freshman QB Matt Barkley, TB Joe McKnight (he is approaching 1,000 rushing yards in 2009), WR Damian Williams (he is also the nation's No. 2 punt returner) and OG-C Jeff Byers. UCLA enters its regular season finale coming off a home win over Arizona State last Saturday that extended the Bruins' winning streak to 3 and made them bowl eligible. The Bruin offense has emerged with the development of QB Kevin Prince, the running of TBs Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman and the pass catching of WRs Taylor Embree, Nelson Rosario and Terrence Austin (who doubles as a dangerous returner) and TE Logan Paulsen. The Bruins' opportunistic defense (tops in the Pac-10 in turnover margin and scoring defense) is led by LBs Kyle Bosworth and Reggie Carter, CB Alterraun Verner, S Rahim Moore, who is the nation's interception leader, and 2008 All-Pac-10 first team DT Brian Price, among the national leaders in tackles for a loss. The Bruins have a strong kicking game behind PK Kai Forbath, who leads the country in field goals, and P Jeff Locke, the Pac-10's top punter. The game--approaching a sell out--will be televised live nationally on FSN cable. The USC women's volleyball team hosts Arizona earlier in the day, while the top-ranked USC men's water polo team hosts the league tourney throughout the day.