Wednesday, September 9, 2009

From the bottom to Rocky Top
UCLA's excursion to Knoxville, Tenn., this Saturday is full of noteworthy sidebars that add a Southern California flavor to the Vol's attempt to pay back the Bruins for an embarrassing upset in last season's opener at the Rose Bowl.
First, this is Rick Neuheisel's most important game in his short term as head coach. A victory would but UCLA's program on more respectable ground, especially in the eyes of other teams in the Pacific 10, and also the media.
Neuheisel goes up against Lane Kiffin, who was hired by Tennessee after being fired by the Oakland Raiders. Before that Kiffin was the co-offensive coordinator at USC, a job he shared with Steve Sarkisian, who is now coaching the Washington Huskies.
Kiffin hired Ed Orgeron, the former Mississippi coach who was also once a USC assistant under Pete Carroll, his defensive line coach.
And just to add more Cardinal and Golf whipped cream to Rocky Top, Norm Chow, the UCLA offensive coordinator was at USC with Kiffin and Orgeron when the Trojans were winning Heisman Trophies and national championships.
So there is a lot of incentive for the Bruins, who could vault closer to the AP Top 25 if they can upset the Vols, who are favored by 8 points. One key to a UCLA victory will be the play of quarterback Kevin Prince, a red-shirt freshman, who hasn't played much in the last three years. The Fresh Prince of Westwood had a pedestrian yet respectable debut last weekend against San Diego State, but he will have to pick up the pace in front of Tennessee's boisterous home crowd. Look for the Bruins to make it close.

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