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UCLA REWIND

Bruins Say They're Spoiling for a Fight

November 17, 2003|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

It has come down to this.

Never mind about that long-ago time -- actually less than two weeks ago -- when UCLA was tied for first in the Pacific 10 Conference

Never mind about the chance the Bruins will back into a bowl game, even if they lose to No. 2 USC on Saturday.

And never mind that most people can only wonder if UCLA can possibly keep the margin against the Trojans from being a humiliation even greater than last season's 52-21 loss.

The Bruins have only one goal in mind. They want to be spoilers.

"Basically that's what we're playing for. What else is there?" defensive tackle Rodney Leisle said. "We want to win, and that would ruin everything for them."

It would render all those bowl championship series calculations and visions of the Sugar Bowl moot.

And it would go down as one of the greatest UCLA upsets in the history of the rivalry.

There was the 1992 game when walk-on John Barnes passed for 385 yards and a 5-5 UCLA team knocked off No. 15 USC, 38-37, coming from 14 points behind in the fourth quarter and winning only after USC missed a two-point conversion attempt in the final minute.

And there was the game back in 1959 when USC came into the game 8-0 and ranked in the top five, and a 3-3-1 Bruin team spoiled the Trojans' unbeaten record, 10-3.

"That's our whole plan. We're going to try to ruin what they have going," tight end Marcedes Lewis said.

"This is our rivalry game. You could be 0-10, 0-11. I know we'll all be ready to go fight."

Tailback Tyler Ebell echoed Lewis.

"It will be a dogfight. Anything can happen. That's a rivalry game."

People always say that, that anything can happen in a rivalry game.

But this year, this game?

"It's not only important to keep it from being lopsided, it's important to win. We'll go out there with confidence," linebacker Brandon Chillar said.

Lopsided has been the trend the last two seasons, with USC outscoring UCLA, 79-21, shutting out the Bruins, 27-0, two seasons ago and winning by 31 last season.

It has been only five years since UCLA went into the USC game with an eight-year winning streak, but USC has won the last four, with no sign of stopping.

As for the Bruins, they gave no sign of putting up a fight in a 31-13 loss to Oregon Saturday.

Later, USC pounded Arizona, 45-0 -- the same Wildcats UCLA needed a 55-yard, fourth-quarter interception return to defeat.

In a UCLA locker room filled with what seemed like either blind faith or forced bravado Saturday, quarterback Drew Olson was one of the few who voiced what surely is obvious.

"In order to have a chance against the Trojans -- they've got a great defense -- things are going to have to change," he said.

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