UCLA vs USC: Bruins Making Los Angeles Rivalry Compelling Again

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UCLA vs USC: Bruins Making Los Angeles Rivalry Compelling Again
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The balance of power in Los Angeles is shifting back toward Westwood

For years, USC owned the City of Angels. From 1999 through 2011, the Trojans beat UCLA 12 out of 13 times (although two of those were eventually vacated), going to the Rose Bowl five times while the Bruins toiled in mediocrity. 

USC enjoyed a dynasty under Pete Carroll, attracting all the biggest stars from California's football hotbed, while UCLA went from Bob Toledo to Karl Dorrell to Rick Neuheisel, making the Las Vegas Bowl their second home and losing out on top recruits to the school just east. 

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But now, those days are long gone.

UCLA, in its first season under Jim Mora, laid down the groundwork to end USC's L.A. football monopoly last year when it knocked off the Trojans at the Rose Bowl in a winner-goes-to-the-Pac-12-championship contest. 

This year, they continued to build that foundation. 

Behind a dominant run game, solid pass game and opportunistic defense, the Bruins went into The Coliseum and beat the revitalized Trojans under Ed Orgeron in comprehensive fashion, 35-14. 

For UCLA, it was the first road win in this series since 1997 and the largest margin of victory since 1970. 

Afterward, Mora put it simply, via CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman:

For now, the Bruins own the town. But in the future, for the first time in what seems like decades, it's going to be an all-out battle for the city. 

Back in 2011, USC brought in the No. 3 recruiting class in America, while UCLA ranked 45th. The next year, it was No. 9 and No. 17, respectively. Last year, it was No. 12 and No. 7

And not only did the Bruins bring the superior 2013 recruiting class to Westwood (something that hasn't happened since at least before 2002, which is as far as 247 Sports' data goes back), they brought in one that is already making a significant impact. 

Five-star defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes has 36 combined tackles, 4.5 for a loss and 0.5 sacks on the season, and against the Trojans, he even added a one-yard rushing touchdown. 

But the real gem of the class has been Myles Jack. After recovering another fumble and scoring another rushing touchdown against USC, the linebacker/running back/Swiss Army Knife now has 71 combined tackles, 5.0 for a loss, one interception, 10 pass deflections, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one blocked kick, 267 rushing yards and seven touchdowns...and probably did the electrical work in the locker room, too. 

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Following UCLA's win, the freshman, who somewhat exemplifies the direction this program is headed, talked about why he chose the Bruins, per ESPN's Kevin Gemmell:

“I saw the first year with them beating ’SC, beating Nebraska, going to the Pac-12 championship,” Jack said. “When they were recruiting me, everything [Mora] said, he backed it up with numbers. They won big games. They went to the Pac-12 championship. They went to the Holiday Bowl. I saw the change and I wanted to be a part of that. 

“If they are telling [recruits] the same thing they are telling me, it’s true. They aren’t lying. Everything they told me came true. They told me I could come in and compete for a spot, and came in and won the spot. They told me we were going to win big games. We beat ’SC, we were going to do big things, beat Nebraska. And we’ve done it. Coach is a man of his word and his track record proves it.”

Mora, whose 18 wins mark the best two-year start for a UCLA head coach in program history, was a little more direct, saying if "you win two in a row in this town, things start to change. That's going to help us in recruiting. If I'm a high school player, I want to play at UCLA right now."

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Of course, USC isn't exactly ready to surrender L.A. After losing 10 scholarships per year from 2011 to 2013, the Trojans can once again take full classes. And with either James Franklin or Chris Petersen reportedly coming on as head coach, per ESPN's Joe Schad, this program's arrow is unequivocally pointing up. 

During a wild Saturday in which so many other scintillating rivalries were going down the wire, UCLA vs. USC flew under the radar. 

But that won't be happening again anytime soon. 

 

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