UCLA may be higher ranked then USC. They have a better record than USC. And they are above USC in the standings. But until they actually win the rivalry game, USC will be a step ahead of them. Photo by Jeff Lewis
“Inner City” rivalry sounds like a term that is better suited for the Crenshaw vs. Dorsey match up, but USC features wide receivers Robert Woods (Gardena Serra) and Marqise Lee (Gardena Serra), linebacker Hayes Pullard (Crenshaw) and guard Marcus Martin (Crenshaw). UCLA features running back Johathan Franklin (Dorsey), wide receiver Shaquelle Evans (Inglewood), defensive end Datone Jones (Compton), and cornerback Aaron Hester (Compton Dominguez). So yes, this is an inner city match up.
USC has had the series on lockdown, but look past the team names on the uniforms, the colors, all the NFL caliber players (on one of the teams), and the history of both teams over the past 10+ years.
When all of that is taken out, then the favorite is the team with the 8-2 record, the team that is ranked No. 17 in the AP poll, the team that has surpassed their expectations. The team that has not been a major disappointment. The team that leads the PAC 12 South.
That would be UCLA.
But USC has one major advantage, which is why most people would not pick them to lose this game. That would be the psychological advantage. USC has had their way with UCLA for so long now, why would anybody pick UCLA to win this game? Even though UCLA arguably has been better, even though UCLA is ranked higher than No. 21 USC (7-3), even though UCLA is entering the game with a lot of confidence, they are still playing a team that has had a monopoly on Los Angeles football for over a decade now. A team that beat them 50-0 last year.
UCLA is not only playing against a team with NFL caliber players, they are playing against recent history. UCLA has taken a major step in the right direction this season, but until they can compete with USC, and that means beat USC, then nobody will take them serious, and nobody will pick them in this inner city rivalry.
Many people seem to have short memories when it comes to this rivalry, and they forget that UCLA dominated USC in the 1990s, beating them eight years in a row at one point.
“We beat them every year when I was there, so I don’t know how it is to lose to those guys,” former UCLA wide receiver Jim McElroy (Washington Prep) said. “It was always great.”
McElroy played for UCLA from 1994-97, and he helped them overcome a 17-point deficit against USC in 1996. In that game he had nine receptions for 145 yards.
Back then UCLA flirted with national titles and they appeared in Rose Bowl games, along with beating USC on a regular basis. But starting with the Pete Carroll era in 2000, USC has had the city, and the series, on lockdown. UCLA has only defeated USC once over that time period.
If UCLA can pull off the victory over a team that they have been better than over the course of the season, then this season will be deemed a total success.