The Task at Hand

As SC prepares for its game against cross-town rival UCLA on Saturday it is clear that this game should not be taken lightly. The possibility of a letdown is always just around the corner when a team wins a big game i.e. Rutgers vs. Cincinnati last week. The Trojans have been there before and in 2004 they almost got caught by UCLA after their blowout win against Notre Dame 41-10. SC squeaked out a win against the Bruins on their way to the Orange Bowl and a 55-19 trouncing of Oklahoma.

From the Daily Trojan:

The Trojans were in an eerily similar situation two years ago. Coming off a 41-10 win over Notre Dame and ranked No. 1, they were nearly ambushed by the Bruins.

Behind a pair of long Reggie Bush touchdown runs and five Ryan Killeen field goals, USC managed a 29-24 win before bludgeoning Oklahoma, 55-19, in the Orange Bowl.

But coach Pete Carroll expects better focus this time around.

"This is a fascinating opportunity for us," said Carroll, who is 5-0 against UCLA. "It draws us in and calls for a centering of focus, it makes it easy."

This is not unlike that time. SC has been riding high since the loss at Oregon St. They have handled the toughest part of their schedule and have put themselves into position to return to the BCS Title game for a third consecutive year all they have to do is beat UCLA. But as I have said in the past rivalry games can be tricky. The Bruins need this win to salvage some part of a disappointing season. It is matter of pride and dignity for them not to have another loss at the hands of their nemesis Pete Carroll.

Not winning could also have UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell out of a job. But winning may also have a less than desired effect for the Bruin faithful, KD could get to keep his job and I can assure you that is something that a number of Bruins fans will have a hard time swallowing. At some point UCLA will break the losing streak that now stands at 7; no team can dominate forever. But until UCLA gets a coach who can fire this team up, outside of just getting up for a rivalry game, UCLA will have a tough time convincing anyone that this is a top-notch football program that can attract the coaches and recruits that are so important to competing at this level let alone be successful.

Also from the Daily Trojan:

As the talking points at DumpDorrell.com point out, UCLA has only a single road win over teams with winning records, 7-16 overall against those with a mark of .500 or better under his regime.

Dorrell has gone through coordinators like tissue, his bland demeanor on the sidelines reflective of how his Bruins have performed on the big stage.

The worst crime, however, is reducing the cross-town showdown between UCLA and USC into a second-rate rivalry.

That's a pretty good summation but I only use it as an example of how a great rivalry has gone bad. While it's understandable that you want to beat your rival convincingly a win is far more delicious when the teams are close in talent and the game is not one sided. Yes, we were all happy at how we dominated last year but who had any doubt of the outcome? It would have been far more of a concern if that game were a lot closer, regardless of how well UCLA played last year. I mean was there ever any doubt?

In the grand scheme of things I am uninterested in the trials and tribulations of the program across town but it should also be noted that not taking this game seriously and looking ahead to a bigger game could spell disaster in the quest for that very prize. As I have said numerous times here on CC Pete Carroll will have this team ready to play. Many will make fun at his methods, but the evidence shows that they seem to be working at this point. As hard as the loss to Texas was to swallow just being there is more than some programs will ever see. The hate that UCLA fans have for SC is understandable, they are our rivals and there will always be some visceral reaction towards us especially with the success we have had of late.

So the focus is on the next game not the one after it. I'm pretty confident that is exactly what is being done, anything else will not bode well.

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