“THE FOOTBALL MONOPOLY IN LOS ANGELES IS OFFICIALLY OVER.“
— Rick Neuheisel
I remember when I first cracked open the seal to my crisp, freshly delivered Los Angeles Times sports section, only to have this unrestrained sentiment come flying out from the page like a bat out of hell.
There he was, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel in all his glory, standing and pointing East towards downtown Los Angeles with a rather unyielding demeanor.
Although these aforementioned words were all that was written on that full-page ad that day, it was unmistakable whom he and the UCLA athletic department were referring to.
It was the University of Southern California Trojan football team.
And even though Neuheisel might be pointing toward a different direction than downtown—depending on where you perch for the morning paper—as a UCLA fan it made you want to rise up and direct that paper towards its proper bearings.
The drama was just too good to pass up.
Finally a Pac-10 team—the main rival UCLA, no less—claims they have had enough of this "winning championships on their own turf" thing. No longer would they stand around and count the days until tip-off in November.
UCLA is not only ready to compete. They. Are. Ready. To. Win.
Now, fast-forward one season ahead where this once audacious remark could not have more fruition. Not only are the Bruins 3-0 going into Pac-10 play, but the Trojans are a rather entertaining 2-1 to go along with it.
I predicted that the Trojans would be 2-1 at this point, but with the loss coming from the hands of potential Heisman Trophy winner Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State football team. Not the unassuming, rebuilding Washington Huskies.
But that way is all the more sweeter.
After a defensive effort worthy of much accolade, the Huskies came together and put together a career-defining win on their own home field for head coach Steve Sarkisian and the fans.
Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt’s defense showed that they are quietly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-10, and Sark displayed his ability to use the weapons he has—A.K.A. Jake Locker—to the best of his abilities.
Which always is a sign of a good up-and-coming head coach.
Going into this game there was a plethora of signs that should have lead anyone with an unbiased discernment toward the situation to think the Huskies could very well pull off the upset.
USC was shaky on the offensive front because of a tenderfoot signal caller who was already bested for the position by a younger, more tenderfoot quarterback by the name of Matt Barkley. I’m sure you have heard of him because I assume you watch ESPN, and the two seem go hand-in-hand.
This factor, combined with the coaching staff exodus northwestward from USC, laid out the groundwork for a compelling sentimental encounter between the two. With the Huskies coming out on top, of course.
So, how does this lead to UCLA Bruins having any sort of chance against the USC Trojans?
Well, these past couple weeks have really shown just how beatable USC really is.
In fact, they are more beatable right now than any other time in this past decade.
After the seemingly annual loss of the majority of the starters to the NFL draft, USC has always had the assumption of reloading—not rebuilding—attached to it.
But that is not the case this year.
Usually when a team reloads, they are relying on their dignified coaching staff, which has presumably been in this position before, to manage their team to victory. But this year is different.
Instead, USC is rebuilding/developing both their players and coaching staff.
At the same time.
This is, simply put, too big of a feat to accomplish—especially in what looks like an up year for the rest of the Pac-10 teams. It cannot be done.
UCLA has a former USC offensive coordinator, Norm Chow, on their side and chomping at the bit to stick it to them (similar to UW). It appears that the Bruins have pieces falling in all the right places in order to come out on top in this heated rivalry game.
And yes, I know that UCLA beat USC just three years ago, but this year the victory is going to be different. It is going to have a different connotation to it. A different tone.
This year, it will not be a shocking headline that has the whole nation rethinking what picture should be next to the word upset in the dictionary.
This year, I fully expect UCLA to have a distinct competitive edge going up against their longtime rivals.
This year, UCLA is not only going to beat the Trojans, but they are going to knock them down a few pegs and reorganize the pecking order of Pac-10 football.
Also, make sure to take a look that the most recent Bleacher Report NCAA FBS Top 25 Poll voted on by all the Bleacher Report Featured Columnists Community.
My Poll - Week Four
5. Penn St.
6. Ole Miss
7. Ohio State
8. Boise St.
12. Virginia Tech
17. Oklahoma St.
18. Florida St.