This Saturday at the Rose Bowl, the UCLA Bruins, suffering from a dismal 4-7 season where little has gone right, will face a No. 5 ranked USC Trojan squad which has the top-rated defense in the nation.
Everyone is predicting an absolute massacre, as the Trojans are a 33-point favorite.
But no matter how bad SC beats down UCLA, the Bruin Nation can take comfort—there are several ways the Bruins are better than their private school counterparts.
As a Bruin alum (class of '91), I feel it's my duty to list those advantages which transcend football and makes UCLA the better institution, starting with...
ACADEMICS/ADMISSION STANDARDS: UCLA has been long known for its extremely high standards in academics and admission standards. It is rated higher than USC in every magazine and poll, including U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review.
While USC had admittedly made recent strides in this area and has strong film and business departments, the Bruins are still the champ here.
After all, getting an education is the reason one goes to college, not merely rooting for the football team.
And I feel that's more important.
NEIGHBORHOOD: This is an area where it's not even close.
UCLA is located in Westwood, on the southern edge of Bel-Air, Los Angeles' most affluent area. Multi-million dollar homes surround the campus, and Westwood Village is one of America's great college towns.
USC, on the other hand, is located just south of downtown Los Angeles on the edge of South Central L.A., an area plagued with crime, drugs, and gangs.
Trojan students are warned to be extremely careful when venturing outside the immediate campus area; a student was tragically killed on a neighboring street earlier this year.
COST: Again, an area where UCLA is SO much better:
UCLA yearly tuition and fees: $7,500
USC yearly tuition and fees: $47,000
That's six times the cost of the Trojans' Westwood counterparts, which makes the Bruins SIX TIMES better in this stead.
I'm sure parents feel the same way.
SC students will counter this statement by saying they get scholarships and financial aid, but there are only so many scholarships to go around, and financial aid has to be paid back.
As a friend of mine once said, "Why pay all that money when you don't have to?"
OVERALL ATHLETICS: Yes, USC has 11 national championships in football, and has been clearly better than UCLA this decade, however...
I know that Trojans don't want to hear this, but athletic departments are much more than just football, even though they provide most of the revenue.
Let's take a look at the number of NCAA championships won:
UCLA: 103 (and counting), the first school to reach that mark.
USC: 86, and not even in second place. Stanford, with 97, has more!
I should add the Bruins offer more sports than their Trojan counterparts; two of their most successful programs, women's softball and gymnastics, are sports where USC doesn't even field a team.
Which makes them far out of compliance to Title IX, much farther than UCLA.
ALL-TIME GREATEST ATHLETES: This is something that I love to point out to Trojan fans...
UCLA's greatest athlete was not only a four-sport letterman during his Bruin days, he became a true American icon on April 15, 1947, when he stepped onto the diamond at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and broke baseball's color line, changing American society forever.
I think I've described Jackie Robinson fairly well.
In contrast, USC's greatest athlete, while he was an All-American in football and track for the Trojans and became a huge celebrity in the 70s and 80s, turned out to be an alleged double-murderer who most people felt got off.
He got his comeuppance earlier this year when he was convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas; his sentencing is scheduled for tomorrow.
Clearly O.J. Simpson got his. I think we all agree there.
I hope I've helped people see that when it comes to what's really important, UCLA is the clear winner over USC.
No matter what happens this Saturday.