Thursday, November 26, 2015

UCLA Bruins Riding the Wave of College Football's Crosstown Rivalry in Los Angeles (VIDEO)

This is the time of year in college football I love the most. The college rivalries are awesome, and L.A.'s crosstown rivalry is more interesting than ever. The Pete Carroll era at USC is ancient history; the Trojans are corrupt shell of their former selves. Amazingly, I find myself warming up to UCLA's football program, and believe me, this is a first.

At the Los Angeles Times, "Beating USC turned tide for Jim Mora and UCLA, and Bruins are still riding the wave":

Security was sparse at UCLA's football practice Tuesday.

The workers the school employed to guard the practice field before the Bruins played rival USC in 2012 haven't been seen in a few years.

Even the rhetoric has been dialed back. Jim Mora, UCLA's coach, used to routinely refer to the Trojans as the team from "Southern Cal," a variation of University of Southern California that is universally disliked by the USC faithful.

He still slips in the term occasionally, though in recent days it has seemed like he was trying to avoid mentioning UCLA's next opponent by any name at all.

This is evolution.

When Mora arrived in Westwood, USC was firmly established on top in the crosstown rivalry. The Bruins were wannabes.

Since then, the momentum has flipped entirely. Mora-coached teams have three consecutive victories in series.

The teams meet again Saturday at the Coliseum, where two years ago Mora could be heard shouting "We own this town!" in the tunnel near the USC locker room.

"Beating USC validated Jim's position as the head coach," said Dan Guerrero, the UCLA athletic director who hired him. "It was important for him to flip that switch."

But ruling the home roost was only part of Mora's end game.

The winner Saturday advances to play in the Pac-12 Conference title game Dec. 5. From there, the Pac-12 champion goes to the Rose Bowl game...