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Here we go again...

Before the season I was very careful not to buy into the hype too much about this team. The reasons I think were obvious and don't really bear repeating. The fact is the MSM loves a good story and they love to build things up and when they don't turn out the way the MSM hopes they often turn on those they attempted to build up.

So after SC was knocked off its perch against Stanford it served notice that if you expect to stay on top you need to continue to play at the highest level and take NOTHING for granted. I remember Kirk Herbstreit say last season before the ucla game that SC had nothing to worry about...we know how that turned out. Today I heard Trevor Mattich say on ESPN's College Football Live that SC could go 3 and out all day because ucla's offense was so bad that SC's defense will score more points that SC's offense. It's that type of talk that drives me nuts. Not team is that bad that he could say such a thing and it pisses me off that some would look at any team with such disdain. This is a nasty rivalry and anything can happen so that sort of talk is just nonsense.

But it doesn't end there as Paul Oberjuerge in today's Daily News also gets into the act.

Remember when USC was assumed to be the best team in the nation?

All of 10 weeks ago?

Those Trojans seem finally to have shown up. At the same time all their starters on offense finally did. But two defeats too late to live up to those mid-September expectations.

Perhaps you noticed their most recent work: USC 44, Arizona State 24, four days ago.

That would be the Arizona State that was 9-1, ranked No. 7 in the nation, playing at home, poised to appear in the Rose Bowl for the first time in a decade and, actually, primed to step squarely into the BCS title-game mix.

And the Trojans nuked 'em. Stomped them. Scored on eight of their first 10 possessions, rolled up 508 yards and would have hung half-a-hundred on the Devils if Pete Carroll hadn't called off the dogs in the final minutes, with USC driving inside the ASU 25.

Then you have the Bruins. Still unsure of their quarterback situation, still unsure of their tailback situation, still unsure of their coach's situation. And that is no way to go into a game with the no-longer-slumbering giant across town.

Please, ucla knows who they are playing.

I have already stated that year feels different yet I can't really put my finger on it. The bruins are so wrapped up in their coaching nightmare that a god many of them aren't really focused on this game in the traditional sense. A win probably doesn't change things but they are not in their traditional rooting mode, it is almost like watching a death march.

It is not hard to understand why as they are on pins and needles as to who will be their next head coach. Yes, I think Dorrell is gone and it is easy to see the anxiety they are going through because the next coach they get will be there for a very long time and if he isn't successful it will be another 5-7 long years in Westwood.

But that aside, this game is played by the players not the coaches. They know what's at stake, a possible trip to the Rose Bowl for both teams and the revenge factor for USC. The bruin offense is playing like a wounded Duck but their defense is playing pretty well so I am not going to take this game for granted. Do I think we will win? Yes I do but I refuse to be cocky about it and I want our players to be focused.

That brings me to something else. Part of the reason that the MSM is so reviled by some is that they either don't get it or are just too cold hearted to understand it.'s Stewart Mandel is just such a person.

Ever since the Trojans' Thanksgiving-night smackdown of then seventh-ranked Arizona State, it seems USC fans have reemerged from their two-month hibernation to resume thumping their chests.

You bet we have Stewie! It was writers like you that put SC on a pedastal before they ever played a game. Fans buy into the hype that is why they are called FANS! USC has accomplished more in the past 4-5 years than most other D1 Programs and whether you like it or not and whether it is right or not USC's accomplishments give our fan base the right to "Pump Their Chests out!" That is what being a fan is all about. You have lost that passion because your profession won't allow you to show that emotion but that is not my problem that's yours.

We are a proud fan base just like any other fan base and we have more the earned the right to be fired up for our team. But that also means that we should also be tempered in our enthusiasm as we were cocky last year and it didn't go our way.