Neither a conference title nor a bowl bid, Rose or otherwise, is on the line for either team. But both embattled programs need a victory to claim even a modicum of success this season. Staff writer Gary Klein previews the game as UCLA and USC meet in football for the 80th time:
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
You could say that bad blood between UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel and USC Coach Lane Kiffin, and between Kiffin and UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow, was dissipated when UCLA played at Tennessee last season.
But that was three time zones away in Knoxville.
This one's in their backyard.
No one was happier than Neuheisel when Pete Carroll bolted to the NFL. He sensed a rivalry-turning opportunity when the image-stained Kiffin, whose team the Bruins defeated in 2009, was chosen as Carroll's successor.
Kiffin and Chow have been cordial from a distance, but anyone who thought that Mike Garrett's plan to have Kiffin hire Chow was feasible does not know their history very well.
Chow smartly leveraged the situation into a contract extension but is now a possible fall guy for the Bruins' lost season.
If UCLA lets him go, it won't take long for USC fans to start the drumbeat for his return.
If Matt Barkley's injured left ankle is sound enough for him to start, the matchup will feature sophomore quarterbacks with a huge disparity in experience.
Barkley has started 23 games for the Trojans, including last season's 28-7 victory over the Bruins at the Coliseum, which featured a controversial 48-yard USC touchdown pass at the end of the game. Barkley has passed for 40 touchdowns with 24 interceptions in two seasons.
Richard Brehaut will be making the seventh start of his UCLA career. He has passed for five touchdowns with six interceptions this season.
Players from both teams are looking forward to facing friends from youth football or high school.
Then there are the Jones brothers. Marshall, a USC junior safety, might have to level his younger brother Malcolm, a UCLA freshman running back.
Marshall moved into the starting lineup three games ago and intercepted a pass against Notre Dame. Malcolm has rushed for 191 yards in 52 carries.
USC safety T.J. McDonald and his brother Tevin, a UCLA cornerback, the sons of former USC All-American Tim McDonald, won't be able to mix it up until next season on special teams. T.J. suffered a shoulder injury against Notre Dame; Tevin is redshirting.
The seniors might not be the only ones playing their final college games.
UCLA's Akeem Ayers, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound fourth-year junior, could make himself available for the NFL draft. Junior safety Rahim Moore also is a highly regarded NFL prospect.
USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith, a junior who is nursing a knee injury that could keep him sidelined against the Bruins, and junior defensive tackle Jurrell Casey are expected to consider entering the draft.
Players have until mid-January to declare.
Most recruits do not choose a college based on the outcome of one game, but it can help sway decisions. So, among the interested observers at the Rose Bowl and watching on television will be several high school players considering offers from both schools.
They include local players such as Crenshaw running back/defensive back De'Anthony Thomas, Lakewood tackle Torian White, Fontana Summit quarterback/receiver Devon Blackmon and Moreno Valley Rancho Verde tight end Junior Pomee.
Defensive end Brennan Scarlett and linebacker/running back Colt Lyerla, both from Oregon, and Harvey Langi, a running back from Utah, are among the out-of-state recruits eyeing both programs.
Quick hits: USC Athletic Director Pat Haden, 4-0 against UCLA as a player, quarterbacked the USC freshman team to a 25-21 victory over the Bruins in 1971 before playing on Trojans teams that topped UCLA in 1972, 1973 and 1974. UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero was an infielder for the Bruins varsity baseball team from 1971 to 1973, during which time the Bruins were 2-13 against the Trojans. . . . Brian Wagner passed for three touchdowns this week as USC's student football managers defeated UCLA's managers, 21-7, at UCLA. USC extended its winning streak in the series to three games. The series was suspended in 2007 after several participants required hospital emergency-room treatment in 2006 because of injuries.
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*--* PER GAME USC UCLA Points scored 31.2 20.7 Points given up 27.8 30.5 Passing offense 245.4 133.0 Rushing offense 182.5 179.9 Passing defense 262.0 215.6 Rushing defense 141.5 199.5 *--*