The short answer? Nothing. The fact that we're actually talking about a back-and-forth between the two teams is the shot in the arm this rivalry needs.
Right now, as the L.A.Times reported, we have the Bruins not allowing the Trojans to plant their sword at midfield. The LAist also let us know that the both schools are protecting their mascots from the opposition as pranksters roam, looking to start trouble.
UCLA is using the standard downplay move that's become popular when an opponent has been kicking your teeth in for quite some time. Players and Jim Mora himself let the L.A.Times know they just want to play well, that this is just another game—no big deal.
Meanwhile, USC is looking to let the good times roll. After last year's 50-0 victory, Matt Barkley and his teammates are talking about continued success. Even the new kid on the block—transfer Silas Redd, who hails from Connecticut—fired a mini dart at UCLA:
"I knew it was a big game," he said, "but we always looked at the Notre Dame game as the biggest rivalry."
Much like the Pete Carroll and Rick Neuheisel feud in 2009, this type of rhetoric is almost what this rivalry needs.
Why almost, you ask?
Quite simply, the chatter is nice, but what this rivalry really needs is some competitive fire. Having the Pac-12 South hanging in the balance is a welcome addition, but none of this means anything if UCLA goes out and gets embarrassed again.
The Bruins (No. 17) being ranked ahead of USC (No. 18) for the first time in a long time means nothing if the Trojans come out and walk the dog against Mora's boys.
The almost is because we thought Neuheisel was a shot in this rivalry's arm in 2009. But all he did was keep losing to the Trojans. That's no way to create a feud people respect or rebuild the rivalry.
There's nothing wrong with USC and UCLA taking verbal jabs at each other. However, if they really want this crosstown battle to get back on the map, the onus is on the Bruins to show up Saturday.
If they do that, this rivalry can finally be the real deal.
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