Sunday, September 18, 2011

The tale of two football programs

How ironic things have turned out for the football teams at USC and UCLA. When USC was slapped with a two-year suspension from going to a bowl game, plus had its number of scholarships reduced by the NCAA, the Trojans' cross-town rivals, the UCLA Bruins, were all set to take advantage of USC's ill fortune, which all came from the NCAA's investigation surrounding Reggie Bush. Newspaper letters columns were filled with gleeful prose from Bruin fans who predicted that UCLA would benefit with great recruiting and winning seasons.
But that hasn't happened and if UCLA had been holding onto a tiny thread of hope that it would over take USC in football, it was all dashed this weekend.
In an early afternoon game at the Rose Bowl, UCLA met Texas in a home-and-home series rematch from last season's whooping that the Bruins put on the Longhorns in Austin. Coach Rich Neuheisel had been touting quarterback Richard Brehaut all week, saying as much that Brehaut was the player to lead the Bruins offense. But, in a surprise change, it was Kevin Prince who Neuheisel started under center, not Brehaut. Prince didn't waste time putting his team in the hole. He threw three interceptions that Texas took advantage of and by the time Neuheisel replaced him with Brehaut, the Longhorns had a 21-0 lead.
Meanwhile at the Coliseum, USC played host to Syracuse in an early evening non-conference game and the Trojans gave their best effortt of the season. After sputtering in two starts against MInnesota and last week against Pac-12 newcomer Utah, quarterback Matt Barkley passed for five touchdowns, all five to a different receiver, and the Trojans sailed to a 38-20 victory.
At the Rose Bowl, the famed stadium was nearly half empty as the official attendance announced was just over 54,000. USC had over 73,000 seats filled. If the Bruins can't draw a big crowd for a team such as Texas, then not only are the fans angry with Neuheisel but also the TV networks, and the visiting team. The Longhorns had to be disappointed in playing in a stadium where plenty of good seats were available. 

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