USC Trojans: Andrew Abbott
November, 15, 2012
By Pedro Moura | ESPN.com
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PRESSWIREPlayers from both UCLA and USC remember last season's game with different perspectives.
LOS ANGELES -- When USC's Robert Woods and Dion Bailey were youngsters in Carson, Calif., their Pop Warner team was among the best in the state.
Then, one Saturday morning, they suffered a crushing loss to a team from Carlsbad, quarterbacked by an older prodigy named Tate Forcier. Bailey, now a sophomore linebacker for the Trojans, says he still remembers everything about it vividly today: the first touchdown they allowed, when he knew it was over, when he knew how badly he wanted to forget it and how hard he found he would work to do so.
"That," he says now, pausing for effect, "is the worst I've ever lost."
Bailey and Woods lost 28-6 to a team they never saw again. Take the margin of that loss and more than double it against your biggest rival, and that's about how badly UCLA lost to USC last Thanksgiving weekend: 50-0.
Bailey said he couldn't imagine facing his classmates after a loss of that magnitude.
"Here, at this school, with our tradition, if we lost 50-0, I probably wouldn't show up to school," Bailey said this week. "We didn't have any games after, we weren't bowl-eligible. That was our last game.
"I'd probably just show up for finals, keep my head down and avoid eye contact with everybody."
Of course, UCLA's players had to go to school the week after their devastating loss to USC last season. And they had to play in the conference championship game six days later, too -- against Oregon, the fifth-ranked team in the country.
Given all that, USC receiver Marqise Lee understands what has happened to the UCLA football team since that fateful night at the Coliseum.
"I'd change my mindset, too," Lee said. "Play harder. Play better. That's what they're doing."
UCLA safety Andrew Abbott, a Bruins captain and a former receiver of Matt Barkley's in high school at Mater Dei, said this week that the game was partially responsible for the drastic change he and his teammates made sometime in between December and September.
"It's something that kind of drove players individually," Abbott said. "The team remembers it, and we thought about it and it helped us in the offseason. But it wasn't something like we were like, 'We lost 50-0, let's go get extra work in.' We didn't do that."