The angle being taken for this weeks game against ucla is a predictable one.
While USC has struggled of late, ucla is being seen as "surging". While one has seemingly lost its identity the other looks to be finding theirs. I think there some truth to those lines of thought but I would not bet the ranch on it. It doesn't tell the whole story but the press will run with it anyway.
That is fine, depending on what side of the street you are on it makes for great reading.
But there is always an outlier that defies objectivity...
That leads us to Bill Plaschke.
We all remember his "Westwood Ho!'" piece in the L.A. Time back in 2001 where he proclaimed...
"This is a Bruin football town, and has been a Bruin football town, and will continue to be a Bruin football town..."
I can't seem to find all those National Titles ucla won in football. I see they have one Heisman Trophy winner but they really aren't all that are they? Oh sure, they had a nice run in the 80's and 90's when USC was down...really down, but ucla still couldn't take advantage of their supposed dominance in L.A. to parlay it into something bigger.
Plaschke breathlessly is hoping for a turn in the tide
And, yes, this is still UCLA, seemingly cursed since I wrote that it was a Bruins football town in October 2001.
Since that column, which I'll hear about approximately 1,345 times this week -- heck, every week -- the Bruins have only that 13-9 victory in 2006.
No, I'm not writing about Bruins dominance now. But I do think it's foolish not to believe that, this time, UCLA has a puncher's chance.
"We'll be excited about taking our swings," Neuheisel said.
While Saturday's win, their sixth this season, assures the Bruins of bowl contention, a seventh would make them a virtual lock for a bowl bid, piling motivation on motivation.
"The game is always big, but this year is going to be even more special," Verner said.
You would be crazy not to be worried about next week.
It is not like USC has played with the style that we have been used to seeing. It is hard to read ucla...the only way they could go is up so any positive progress would be seen as a sign of life.
And because Plaschke has had such a hard-on for ucla over the years he now sees an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon...unfortunately, for a myriad of reasons, most bruin fans don't want him. Take it for what you will.
I said last week that the press was going to set the narrative...and they are playing it step by step. You can tell they are looking for a new new story hook their wagon up to. They have seen all they want to from USC...a win by ucla this Saturday gives the press a whole new line of reporting.
I am by no means conceding this game...I have seen enough of ucla this season to know that regardless of their latest "surge" they are keeping more than a few things together with spit and toilet paper. I am not going to get all worked up over the match-ups, but USC has some work to do. Barkley needs to get back where he was in the early part of the season. The defense needs to get back to basics....
There is no question that ucla has some ballers but they have some issues as well. Plaschke can pump up Prince all he wants but he has not been lights out even under the tutelage of Norm Chow. He has had some nice games but he has stunk up the joint too a few times this season. Of course, some of that is because of the supporting cast around Prince but some of it is Prince as well. You can't blame the O line forever...you still have to make plays.
I have no idea how this game will play out...there are some obvious problems with both teams but many are saying that the momentum is leaning ucla's way.
But momentum is a tricky thing...it can be fleeting. Just when you think you have it, it is snatched away from you at the drop of a hat.
The true character of a team is how they react in the face of adversity. USC has not been in this spot in a long long time. You can't teach this, it is learned.
SC has had their teeth kicked in over the past few weeks so the question now is how will they respond?