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From opposite ends, a tale of two city teams

T.J. SIMERS

September 14, 2008|T.J. SIMERS

What's the first thing that crossed your mind after watching the way USC manhandled Ohio State?

Yeah, poor UCLA.

I wanted to know what Uncle Pete had thought after catching the outcome of the UCLA game?

"That was a big score," he said with a grin while stumbling for what to say next. "That's a hard place to play, but that's a big score. A big number."

Yeah, but if Kai Forbath hits both field-goal attempts earlier Saturday, Rick Neuheisel's gutty little Bruins lose only 59-6 to BYU and it's not the worst loss since the Depression.

No question Neuheisel is going to have an impact on UCLA football history.

Upon reflection, though, maybe that preseason newspaper advertisement should have read: "UCLA's monopoly on embarrassing losses in L.A. still stands."

Twelve weeks to go for Neuheisel to dream up some story about maybe losing an early round NCAA game only to bounce back and win the whole pool in the hopes of firing up his charges for the game with USC.

At the very least, here's hoping Forbath gets back on target, maybe even scoring twice as many points against USC as Ohio State, who already has the national monopoly on embarrassing losses.

It no longer matters if it's a national championship game, or the biggest regular-season game in a decade, the Buckeyes are party-poopers.

Uncle Pete, meanwhile, loves these big encounters, these so-called challenges, and after demolishing Ohio State, 35-3, he said, "We didn't do anything special; we didn't try hard . . ."

Whoa there, big guy. If USC didn't try hard against the likes of Ohio State, what does that say about the chances of bottom feeders like UCLA and the rest of the Pac 10?

"We didn't try too hard," Uncle Pete said. "There was a 't-o-o' in there."

If USC didn't try "too" hard to beat Ohio State, poor, poor UCLA. At least when Karl Dullard coached the Bruins, UCLA managed to score in every game.

"We had a nice night," is all that Uncle Pete would concede after opening the season with two smashing victories. "We're not through the first quarter of the season yet."

But who gives the Trojans a game the rest of the way?

"Pac 10, Pac 10," Uncle Pete said, and at least he didn't say Notre Dame.

USC gets two weeks to prepare for Oregon State before back-to-back home games, and that's home games against Oregon and Arizona State. They also get Cal at home.

And what must they all be thinking with powerful and hyped Ohio State returning the No. 1 defense in the land from a year ago and USC turning it inside out?

The Trojans had two more opportunities to score: a Mark Sanchez pass intercepted in the end zone, and Sanchez taken down for a sack on fourth down with USC in scoring territory.

That sounds as if Sanchez didn't have a good night, but he's already vaulted to the top of the Heisman Trophy list, leading the No. 1 team in the nation to a pair of convincing wins.

It looks as if he's still favoring a knee that is encased in a brace, so how good will he be once the knee allows him to roam even more freely?

USC beat Ohio State as they might Arizona or Washington State. It was easy. This was a major league whoopin', although no one should be surprised. In four previous meetings with Big Ten teams -- each one coming in a bowl game -- Uncle Pete's guys have trounced the opposition.

Add up all five games, and USC has outscored the Big Ten, 182-69. But at least the Big Ten teams found a way to score.

Poor UCLA.

JEREMY HOGUE. Nice guy. Academic All-American center for USC. Harvard Law School. Now CEO for Sovereign Healthcare. FSN Trojan analyst. Really smart guy. Four hours before kickoff predicted Beanie Wells would start for Ohio State. Said he would donate $100 to Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA if Wells didn't. The kids thank the really smart guy for making such a dumb wager.

DR. FREDERIC NICOLA will have the knife in hand Monday morning, and I know how jealous some of you might be, but I was more interested in knowing what he was doing today.

How would you like to face surgery knowing the doctor spent the previous day at a Raiders game?

Dr. Nicola is the team's doctor, and he joined the team in Kansas City. I assured him I'd be rooting for the Raiders, and while previously I couldn't possibly imagine such a thing, I think it's important Dr. Nicola be in a good mood when he returns to work Monday morning.

FOR 22 married years, Jim and Barbara Pfeifer enjoyed their USC Saturdays together at the Coliseum -- Barbara finally getting the best seat in the house, as Jim noted before the game, "from up above."

Barbara passed away in May, and so her USC family and friends gathered downtown Friday night to celebrate her life, the Trojans finishing off the tribute with a win Saturday.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers

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