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UCLA players try to downplay matchup with USC

Bruins have won only one of the last 13 games in the crosstown series, and although they are confident about their chances of beating the Trojans on Saturday, they want to keep a low profile.

November 12, 2012|By Chris Foster

UCLA football players tried to hold the line Monday.

"I don't remember last season," linebacker Dalton Hilliard said.

And …

"It's another game, another shot at playing well," running back Johnathan Franklin said.

But this is USC and some things can't be held in. The Bruins face their rivals Saturday having won only one of the last 13 games in the series.

Don't remember last season? USC quarterback Matt Barkley throwing six touchdown passes in a 50-0 victory?

"Since the end of that game ended until today, I've heard about it," Franklin said. "I'm sure it will be talked about forever."

USC is another game? That team across town that has seemingly held the college football monopoly in Los Angeles?

"We definitely understand that whoever wins, the other team will hear about it all year," Franklin said. "The car flags will come out."

Even Coach Jim Mora knows the obvious when he sees it.

The Bruins, he said, need to take the same approach they have taken every week, a successful formula that has them 8-2 overall and leading the Pac-12 Conference South Division.

But …

"We want to try to normalize this week as much as possible … which will be impossible," Mora said.

So Mora will let the Bruins run with the emotion, except when it is time to get down to business.

"My experience tells me that best way to handle it is to keep our mindset the same as it has been every week," Mora said. "We all know human emotions are going to be ratcheted up. I think it's important for myself, and my staff, to do good job of managing that."

Managing, he said, means, "amongst all hoopla, make sure you stick to the routine and stick to the moment."

Mora told the Bruins to study when they normally study, see tutors when they usually see tutors, and dedicate the same amount of time to football. And, obviously, keep the chatter to a minimum.

But the Bruins know all too well that this game is different.

Hilliard can say "we have to treat every team as a faceless, nameless opponent." But he is also honest, saying, "We're not stupid, we know who we're playing."

Franklin, a senior, said that this game "means everything. It's my last shot at it. I haven't beaten them."

So while the Bruins try to put a just-another-week spin on this week's game, they cannot completely sell it.

"This team, this year, we know what our eyes are set on and we're going to go get it," safety Andrew Abbott said. "We got an opponent that is in the way of us achieving our goals. We just got to play ball."

What's in a name?

There are some words USC folk hate to hear.

NCAA investigation are two of them.

Southern Cal are two more.

USC officials dislike the moniker so much that until 2011 they had a reminder in the media guide not to use "Southern Cal," which said, "it's like calling San Francisco 'Frisco' … "

The memo apparently didn't make it across town.

Mora uses it and Franklin has picked it up.

Talking about growing up in Los Angeles, Franklin said, "It was always SC this and SC that … Southern Cal this and Southern Cal that."

Raising the Barr

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr was selected the Pac-12 defensive player of the week. He had eight tackles, three for a loss, in the Bruins' 44-36 victory at Washington State. That included 21/2 sacks. He also blocked a punt.

Barr moved from receiver to linebacker this season.

"Coach Mora likes to take credit, but it was my idea," Barr joked.

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