USC vs. UCLA Roundtable: Is the Rivalry Back?

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Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

When USC and UCLA renew their long-standing series on Saturday afternoon at the Rose Bowl, they’ll do so with both teams being ranked for the fourth time since 1988, and the first time in Pasadena since the Trojans’ 52-21 victory in 2002. It’s become a series of streaks that has lacked uniformity when it comes to stature of the programs, though both of these teams enter the game with youth and bright futures ahead of them.

Home jerseys will be worn as an homage to the past, and the Rose Bowl is sort of on the line this week, giving it the criteria for a traditional USC-UCLA match-up. That raises the question, as asked to our friends within the digital media: Is the rivalry officially back?

The Media

Ryan Abraham (@insidetroy),

I don’t think the rivalry is “back” because I don’t think it ever went away. For some of the younger USC fans, winning 12 of the last 13 (including 50-0 last season) could make it seem like the series isn’t really competitive. But before that the Bruins rattled off eight straight wins against the Trojans and were very vocal about each and every victory. USC then ran off seven wins before the 13-9 fiasco in the Rose Bowl back in 2006. Now, the Trojans have won five-straight and still have a shot to match the eight in a row streak that meant so much to UCLA fans. Plus, seniors like Matt Barkley have a chance to finish their careers having never lost to their cross-town rival, and send UCLA seniors on their way without ever having beat the Trojans. Every year in this rivalry, from the records to recruiting, there is a lot at stake. It just so happens that this season a shot at the Pac-12 Championship is at stake as well.

Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman), Daily Trojan:

I don’t know if the rivalry went anywhere, but I see what you mean. It certainly has more at stake this time around, yeah, with both UCLA and USC able to clinch a spot in the Pac-12 championship game as the South representative, quite likely against Oregon. To me, what’s particularly unique about this game is what the aftermath will be like. UCLA wins, and suddenly USC is 7-4 on the season, and five or six losses is a realistic possibility — essentially putting the nail in the coffin on its 2012 season. It’d likely also play a big role in recruiting, springing UCLA and Jim Mora forward into the offseason. A win for USC, though, keeps the Trojans’ Rose Bowl dream alive and Lane Kiffin’s head above water. Really, quite a bit on the line this week.

Kyle Kensing(@kensing45), Saturday Blitz:

It’s difficult to say the rivalry is officially back based just on one match-up — bear in mind, the conference championship was technically still at stake in 2005. However, I do think this is the beginning of a true, competitive rivalry. Mora and his staff have done an outstanding job, far exceeding my expectations. He took over a favorable situation in that Rick Neuheisel had recruited well. But what makes Mora and Co. really impressive is how much the team’s improved during the season. USC is still the benchmark in the Pac-12 South, and will remain in that conversation, but the weight of the scholarship sanctions should limit the Trojans from reemerging in that wholly dominant role it once occupied. USC and UCLA are on pretty equal footing this year, and I suspect that will be the case for the immediate future.

Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres), Crystal Ball Run:

Well, the rivalry is “back” for now, in the same way that the Iron Bowl was “back” in 2010 before Auburn fell off the planet the last two years. The point being, that these things are fickle, and college football is a cyclical sport. What I do think is that both teams- for the first time, maybe in my lifetime- are set for long-term staying power atop the polls. Both have young, dynamic coaches, and as we know, they have a mighty large pool of resources and talent to choose from. USC will be fine “big picture” (even if they’re struggling in the here and now) and UCLA will do great things under Jim Mora.

Carlos Sandoval (@CarlosAtFS), Go Joe Bruin:

Yes. And this is mainly because UCLA is under a new head coach with literally the same amount of talent that his predecessor had at his disposal, managing to turn a 6-8 team that looked awful at every turn into an 8-2 team that looks to border juggernaut status. All while USC has proven they’re competent, but not invincible.

To see how the Reign of Troy staff answered the question on the rivalry, click on to the next page.

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Tags: Football UCLA Bruins USC Trojans

  • GoJoeBruinUCLA

    So glad only one of your staffers thought the rivalry doesn’t exist because some stupid, small tradition was discontinued ON THE ROAD in Pasadena in our home field. Of course, when fans let that dominate the narrative of the actual game, that’s when college football gets spoiled.

    • Michael Castillo

      There’s four traditional California Pac-12 schools. All four bring their full bands to the others and play both halftime and pregame shows. It’s what our collective tradition entails, and it’s a part of the ensemble of the four-way rivalry that was fought so hard by university presidents to uphold within the Pac-12 scheduling meetings. Within that, USC’s regular and traditional routine was compromised because UCLA took it as a slight, despite it being done for more than 30 years and 15 previous times at the Rose Bowl for a USC-UCLA game, dating back to 1982. There’s 1,000 more important things for UCLA to be concerned about than a pregame tradition of the opposing team that isn’t done with disrespect in mind, including parking lot security.

      And fans are clearly making the narrative of the game because of how BN went on a crusade to make it happen, whether or not they were the determining factor.

      Now, is that a reason for the rivalry not being ‘back’? Perhaps not. I personally do not agree, and guess what: that’s OK. That’s an opinion, and she’s granted a say in the matter. You shared your opinion in the roundtable and no one is out here commenting on yours or using subtle phrases as ‘your sister editor’ or anything of the like.

      • GoJoeBruinUCLA

        I’m entitled to voraciously disagree and even belittle opinions, too.

        BN went on to make it happen, UCLA fans haven’t mentioned it since. We won. Deal with it.

        As I said above, the Internet exists, making these things more noticeable and easier to lobby to the higher-ups at UCLA. All while a Pac-12 promo video made it a highlight reel to show the Drum Major stabbing our logo.

        And I don’t mind if someone commented on my opinion on the roundtable. I’d welcome anyone to challenge it.

    • PenguinOfTroy

      No, I said the rivalry is not alive and well. It has nothing to do with W-L EXCEPT for the fact that UCLA suddenly all offended by it now when they happen to have lost 12 of 13. Guess what? USC stabbed the field in the 1990s too. Didn’t hear UCLA fans crying to the AD to stop the drum major then. Back when UCLA won for years and years in a row we didn’t hear one peep about our traditions being “disrespectful.” If the rivalry was truly alive then UCLA would win a game more than once in a decade and wouldn’t have to throw a fit over something as harmless as sticking a sword in the ground.
      USC has lost to Stanford four years in a row but we still let the completely and utterly disrespectful Stanford band on our field at the Coliseum. You know what we do to them? We mock them back. That’s what true rivals do.
      My point is that UCLA needs to grow up before I’ll say that the rivalry is back. As it stands now they still have an inferiority complex, as evidenced by this whole ridiculous charade.

      • GoJoeBruinUCLA

        First of all, the sword thing wasn’t an issue until it was used in a goddamn highlight reel by the Pac-12. After that, it was a problem. Second, the Internet wasn’t much of a thing in the 1990s so these efforts don’t go noticed as often. You should know this.

        Inferiority complex? Please. The only thing we don’t burn you in is football. Academically? We scoff at anyone mentioning SC in the same breath as us. Basketball? NCAA championships? College town? Prestigious alum? Accomplishments and innovation? None of it is any contest: UCLA bests you in everything. So sure, when our little sister across town does something better than we do (football), we try to bring ‘em down a notch.

        And I’ll say this over and over: That’s your tradition, not ours. I don’t give a damn if you’ve been doing it for 40 years. We don’t have any obligation to preserve it.

  • GoJoeBruinUCLA

    And another thing, it was considered a rivalry in the 1990s but apparently W-L records determine rivalries only. So I guess the rivalry hasn’t existed for decades since UCLA and USC keep switching off every 10 years.

    • Michael Castillo

      If you want to make that argument, you should have made it in the roundtable.