Forum Spin Doctor
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA Bruins trudged off the Coliseum field following a 66-19 loss to Southern California last year with a feeling they'll always remember. And Bruins center Robert Chai believes that's a good thing.
"I remember thinking as I stood in the tunnel, `I don't ever want to feel this again,'" Chai said. "I don't want anyone on this team to forget what that felt like."
The outcome might have been expected, but the margin of victory wasn't. USC entered with an 11-0 record and UCLA was 9-1.
"All year long, you talk about this game," Chai said. "You talk about it at the beginning of the season, talk about it during the season, talk about it during summer training. You talk about USC, that you want to beat them. And unfortunately the past couple of years, we haven't done the job."
Chai has a short memory - USC has beaten UCLA seven straight times, not just the last couple of years. When the teams meet Saturday at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins will be shooting for their first win over their crosstown rivals since 1998.
"Very frustrating. It makes you sick," Bruins cornerback Trey Brown said. "This is our opportunity to shut people up and earn some respect. It's been way too long. It's got to stop sometime."
While the Bruins may have been thinking about the Trojans for some time, as Chai said, that apparently hasn't been the case at USC. Coach Pete Carroll believes every game is a championship game, and his players have embraced that philosophy.
Now that it's UCLA week, though, Carroll and his players are free to speak on the significance of playing the Bruins.
"We love this matchup and we love playing it, whether it's at the Coliseum or at the Rose Bowl," Carroll said. "We don't get to play another game for a long time - this is the last game we get to play this year.
"Next year, we get to play another game, so we will deal with that when the time comes."
No. 2 USC (10-1, 7-1 Pac-10) can clinch a berth in the BCS title game with a victory - just like it did last year. If the Trojans lose, they'll play in the Rose Bowl game.
They swear they won't be caught looking ahead.
"The history of all sports says yes. The history of this football team says no," Carroll said regarding that possibility. "We haven't had problems with that. That is not a factor I'm concerned about at all."
Win or lose, UCLA (6-5, 4-4) will oppose Florida State in the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 27 in San Francisco.
The Trojans have a 41-27-7 record in the series that dates back to 1929, when they beat the Bruins 76-0. UCLA won eight straight before USC began its current seven-game winning streak.
Some of the wildest games have been played at the Rose Bowl, where UCLA has played its home games since 1982. Before that, the teams shared the Coliseum.
UCLA won a 20-19 decision in the first game the teams played at the Rose Bowl when the Trojans failed on a 2-point conversion in the final seconds. USC's Todd Marinovich threw a touchdown pass in the final minute to give his team a 45-42 victory in 1990.
UCLA won a 38-37 decision in 1992, and four years later, the Bruins rallied from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to win 48-41 in double overtime.
Two years ago, the Trojans earned their berth opposite Oklahoma in the BCS title game by beating the Bruins 29-24 in a much closer game than most anticipated. USC was 11-0 going in and UCLA was 6-4.
The rivalry is unique because it involves two teams in the same city with plenty of players who know each other.
For example, USC center Ryan Kalil will be lining up against a familiar face in Bruins defensive tackle Kevin Brown.
"Kevin Brown - I love that guy to death," Kalil said. "We played in the Cali-Florida Bowl together and I'm going to have to go hit heads with him now. So I'm going to have to think about that."