LOS ANGELES (AP) – The stakes are pretty low in the 91st Crosstown Showdown by the usual standards of Los Angeles’ biggest rivalry game.
UCLA have already secured bowl eligibility for the first time under coach Chip Kelly, but the Bruins’ record (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12) and their recent play is not particularly inspiring.
Southern California (4-5, 3-4) are still stuck in their limbo season, where they continue for two months without a permanent head coach and with a high chance of missing a bowl match.
But the excitement is, of course, unquenchable when two teams separated by 13 miles of highways meet with each player wearing their colored home jerseys. Dozens of players on both teams were high school teammates or grew up together in the sprawling Los Angeles metropolitan area, and the knowledge breeds expectation, not contempt.
“Everyone wants to beat their rival and have those bragging rights,” said UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. “So I think there’s a little more passion and a little more juice and a little more energy.”
When the Bruins visit the Trojans at the Colosseum on Saturday, the disappointments of the current season will be overshadowed by the chance to lift the victory bell.
“When it comes to UCLA, man, we always have a lot of juice,” said USC linebacker Drake Jackson. “We’re ready to get out there … Just let them talk. See them when we see them.”
Even though neither team is playing for a conference title or even an excellent season, there are still significant stakes. The Bruins are hoping to play into a top-level bowling match that is likely to secure another season for Kelly, while the Trojans could desperately use this victory to keep them away from one of the worst records in the history of this West Coast power plant. .
It’s especially meaningful to many UCLA players who did not participate in the Bruins’ last victory over Trojan horses in 2018. Thompson-Robinson was a beginner at the time, but he barely played that victory before losing the last two showdowns as UCLA’s starter. .
“It’s definitely been a game I had put a circle around in my calendar, primarily because it’s a rivalry,” said UCLA senior cornerback Qwuantrezz Knight. “Every kid in this program is looking forward to that game. It’s for everything. It’s for bragging. It’s for who runs the city.
USC freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart is
The Slovis beat the Bruins twice with flair, setting the school record in singles with 515 yards of passing as a rookie in 2019, before throwing a last-minute TD pass to win last year. Darts is new to rivalry, but he gets it now.
“I really just did not understand how intense the rivalry was,” Dart said. “When I came from Utah, I was not so aware of the rivalry when I was growing up, but now I’ve seen it. Emotions are running really high. It’s for the city.”
An effective rushing attack has been a bell for the Bruins this season: UCLA has rushed for at least 200 yards in all of its six wins. USC’s defense is in the middle of the pack to stop the race, but provides nearly 400 total yards per game. match.
TROJANS AT THE TOP
UCLA has won only five of the last 22 editions of the Crosstown Showdown since 1999, though four of those victories have occurred within the last nine years. More worryingly for the Bruins, they have only one win at the Colosseum in their last 11 visits.
USC leads the rivalry 51-32-7 overall, and Trojan horses have lost only 13 times to unranked UCLA teams. The Trojans are even 6-4-1 when they come into the showdown with a record under .500.
Slovis is not the only USC star missing this showdown: Star receiver Drake London is out for the year with a broken ankle, and Trojan horses are still working to replace his unique production.
Gary Bryant Jr. entered the starting lineup after London went down and Kyle Ford has gone up. Tight-end Michael Trigg is also back in training this week after missing three games with an injury.
Whatever the Trojans do to Dart and his recipients, Kelly believes UCLA may be ready.
“The way they operate in that offense is really (they see) what you are expressing defensively, and then they counteract what you are trying to counter,” Kelly said. “If you have to pack the box, their system is that they are going to throw it away. But if you withdraw from them, you play it really, really loosely, and they’ll run it. “
Aside from the arrow, most of the USC list has fond memories of last season’s showdown. The Trojans’ 43-38 victory in a thriller on an empty Rose Bowl included an exceptional individual effort on a 65-yard touchdown by London, and it was completed by Amon-Ra St. Brown’s 8-yard TD catch with 16 seconds left.
“I clearly remember that whole match, man,” said USC cornerback Chris Steele. “It was definitely a great match. Probably one of my favorite games as a Trojan, so I’m just looking forward to stacking them.”
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