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End of last year's USC game isn't forgotten

Neuheisel says of near brawl, 'I think that is behind us,' but some players talk about payback and see it as motivation to do well Saturday.

November 29, 2010|By Chris Foster

A year has passed since a near brawl at the end of the UCLA- USC game. Has time healed all wounds?

"I think that is behind us," UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "I don't think it merits much conversation."

That party line didn't quite trickle down to the masses who will huddle Saturday.

"It was disrespectful," UCLA defensive tackle David Carter said. "We have a chance to come back and get them."

USC had the game in hand, running out the clock with a little more than a minute left last season. Neuheisel prolonged the Bruins' agony by calling timeouts, a gesture of defiance. USC quarterback Matt Barkley offered a 48-yard touchdown pass as a response to close out a 28-7 victory.

The ugliness that ensued, where USC players danced on the sideline and UCLA players marched menacingly across the field, is anything but old news, at least in Westwood.

"You're close to the end and you see play action and you see the ball over your head and their fans going crazy," UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers said. "That is definitely a lot of motivation. We're going to come out this year to win, not just a close game, but a great win."

Froth-at-the-mouth emotions are hardly new to this rivalry. A tense pregame scene preceded the 2008 meeting. Carter has seen such rancor since his first year at UCLA, when he was a redshirt in 2006.

"We were flicking off their band, they were flicking us off, our band was flicking off their band," Carter said.

The blind-eyed-hatred seemed headed toward violence last season, with UCLA players being pushed back by coaches and game officials as they neared the USC sideline.

Those hard feelings have simmered for a year.

"The slightest thing can set things off in this rivalry," Ayers said. "There was definitely some real anger last year. None of it was faked."

Ayers added, "There was nothing we could do about it at that moment. We get a fresh start in the first quarter. There is something we can do about it now to make sure that doesn't happen again. Pay back, you know."

Blood in the water

UCLA's defensive lapses aren't limited to the field. USC fans are believed responsible for pouring red dye in the water of fountains on the UCLA campus.

It's the second consecutive year that USC fans have infiltrated the UCLA campus. Last year, the Bruins' bear statue was painted red and yellow.

"That stuff doesn't affect me at all," Ayers said. "The only thing I can do about it is on the football field."

Quick hits

Defensive tackle Cassius Marsh and cornerback Andrew Abbott will go through the concussion protocol this week, with both players expected to wear no-contract red jerseys in Tuesday's practice.

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