Crosstown rivalry still means something


“From the South Bay to the Valley

From the West Side to the East Side

Everybody's very happy

'Cause the sun is shining all the time

Looks like another perfect day, I love L.A.” -- Randy Newman

Come Sunday morning, only one school is going to be singing this song.

When USC and UCLA get together, it represents a year’s worth of sun shining, perfect days in Los Angeles for the winners because there is nothing like a victory in this classic crosstown rivalry.

There is simply something unique about two schools who share such close proximity in the same city. Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis but the two campuses are separated by only 13 miles and many of the players, fans and alumni have some kind of connection to the other side.

It’s not to say that a victory over the other team in this rivalry can make up for any problems in a season, but it sure goes a long way. If you’re a Trojan, a season just can’t be considered a complete success unless it includes a victory over UCLA. On the other hand, the Bruins went 7-6 in 2006 but it included a victory over USC that knocked the Trojans out of the national title game. You can imagine that one went over quite well in Westwood.

The winner also gains momentum on the recruiting trail as well. The two schools compete for many of the same recruits and, while many prospects are pre-disposed to choose one side or the other, there are certainly some who can be swayed by the latest on-field results.

This past offseason, the Bruins made a big push to try and take advantage of momentum generated from their 38-28 victory over the Trojans. The UCLA pitch was that the tide was turning and the Bruins were getting ready to take over the city. ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) bought the pitch. He was originally considered a lean to USC but once the Trojans declined to offer an in-season official visit, Pickett took a trip to UCLA and quickly made a pledge to the Bruins.

There are still several top local players who are considering both schools, including ESPN 300 prospects Adoree Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), JuJu Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco stars Damien Mama and Jaleel Wadood.

For Bruins coach Jim Mora, a second consecutive victory of USC would be another big building blog for his program.

The Trojans, on the other hand, want to nip in the bud any talk about the Bruins taking over the city. USC has won nine of the last 11 meetings between the two schools and the current Trojans want nothing more than to exact revenge for what happened in 2012.

USC players also want to continue the magical ride that has taken place since Ed Orgeron took over as interim head coach. It’s not simply that they want to win this game for Orgeron to assist in his quest to become the full-time head coach, it’s that the best way to show their appreciation is to go out and finish the season the right way with a win at home against the Bruins.

Finishing the regular season by beating the Bruins is certainly the way USC fans want the script to end this year. Of course, nothing would make UCLA fans happier than to be the fly in that ointment. If you don’t think those stakes are high enough then you don’t know this rivalry.

And only one team will be cueing up Randy Newman when it’s over.