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USC put up a billboard with Matt Barkley on it back in August, and it was within a stone's throw of UCLA's campus
UCLA fans didn't need to be reminded of last season's 50-0 loss at USC.
But it might have been the first thing they saw before they even arrived on campus for fall semester.
Prior to college football's opening weekend, fans in and around UCLA got a glaring reminder of the rivalry between the Bruins and Trojans when a billboard featuring USC's Matt Barkley was revealed right next to UCLA's campus.
"WE PLAY TO FINISH" read the billboard in capital letters, with the 'LA' in 'PLAY' highlighted.
Regency outdoor advertising, the company which owns the billboard, is owned by two brothers, both of whom are USC alumni.
USC had 29 billboards at the time, but this one was a little too close.
So close you could almost throw a football at it from UCLA's campus.
It lasted only a day or two before the billboard was covered up, but UCLA's new coach Jim Mora Jr., who has installed a new no-nonsense attitude into the football program and resurrected it back into relevancy, surely hasn't forgotten.
And knowing that motivation is the single most powerful and important mental tool to prepare a team for a big game, he likely advertised it to his players all week.
And by advertise, I don't mean renting a billboard.
UCLA comes in with just two losses, but they didn't have to play Stanford and Oregon as USC did. However, UCLA's Brett Hundley has been strikingly effective this season. The freshman has shown domination (the offense racked up 600+ yards three times with him under center), leadership (he led the Bruins down the field for the game-winning field goal in a 45-43 win at Arizona State) and poise (winning four road games).
USC's seven wins have come by double digits with veteran quarterback Matt Barkley, but its offense is averaging 34 fewer yards per game than UCLA. USC's defense is allowing 24 fewer yards per game, and both teams feature a running back averaging about six yards per carry this season.
USC might seem like a lot to go up against with a new coach and a freshman quarterback, but if Texas A&M's freshman Johnny Manziel could go into Alabama and lead his offense to three touchdowns in the first quarter, anything is possible.
It's a seemingly equal matchup on paper, but the Bruins have the motivational edge, just at Florida did against Georgia in 2008.
In 2007 when Georgia and Florida squared off at the annual "biggest cocktail party" in Jacksonville, the Bulldogs added some fuel to the rivalry after scoring their first touchdown of the game. Knowing a 15-yard penalty would ensue, the Georgia sideline sent all its players to the end zone for a massive celebration to establish an intimidation precedent on the way to a 42-30 victory.
Florida got the best of Georgia the following season by a score of 49-10.
College athletes can get adrenaline boosts from added motivation, and USC may have given one too many booster shots to the rival race horse.
With that in mind, give the edge to the home team in what will be the hottest "advertised" matchup of the week.
Take UCLA to cover 4 points