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Run-up to game will have a little less pep on one campus

December 02, 2008|David Wharton | Wharton is a Times staff writer.

The buzz surrounding the USC-UCLA rivalry won't be quite as loud in Westwood this week, with students and alumni barred from holding their traditional pregame pep rally.

University policy prohibits any large-scale or amplified events on campus during the week before the official start of final exams, a spokeswoman said.

Administrators could not say the last time the pep rally was skipped. They tried to compensate by holding a celebration before the Bruins' homecoming game against Stanford in October, but some fans are not satisfied.

Especially not with USC having its rally Thursday night.

"The Trojans are going to have theirs, but the Bruins won't have squat," said Joshua Gallegos, an alumnus who said he has been attending rallies since 1975. "It's unheard of."

The decision does not appear to have sparked an uproar on campus.

"Students have mixed emotions about it," said Sade Spence, a junior majoring in international development studies. "Some people can't even attend the game because they have finals that day."

Getting defensive

The Bruins' defensive players are feeling good about going the last seven quarters without surrendering a touchdown. At the very least, they didn't have to spend much time watching film of last week's Arizona State game.

"It was pretty quick," tackle Brigham Harwell said. "We didn't have too many mistakes."

Harwell figures that he and his teammates are playing their best football, understanding defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker's schemes and executing their assignments.

But they also know that playing well against Washington and Arizona State doesn't guarantee success against the Trojans, who have the second-ranked offense in the Pacific 10 Conference.

"They're a monster," Harwell said.

The Bruins' offense wasn't feeling quite as confident after Arizona State scored on three interceptions and a fumble.

"You just can't have turnovers," wide receiver Marcus Everett said. "That's how you lose."

Championship format

While the Bruins and Trojans fight for bragging rights in Los Angeles this weekend, other teams across the nation will be playing in conference championship games.

Coach Rick Neuheisel said that under the current Bowl Championship Series format, he does not favor the Pacific 10 holding a title game at the end of the regular season.

"It gives [teams] one more chance not to do well," he said, "as opposed to one more chance to perform for the beauty pageant."

But his opinion might change if college football adopted a playoff system. In these difficult economic times, he said, "I think you would see a [conference championship] because it creates one more revenue game."


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