Has the torched in the Pac-12 South passed from USC to UCLA? Before the win over the Trojans on Saturday, the Bruins had won only one out of the last 13 matchups in the annual battle for bragging rights in Los Angeles. However, UCLA's victory, combined with the ongoing sanctions at USC could signal a shift in the series.
Has UCLA Surpassed USC as the Pac-12's Top Team in Los Angeles?
Coach Terry Donahue, former head coach of the UCLA Bruins, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
First thing, the UCLA quarterback, Brett Hundley, is really a fine player. He’s very mobile. He’s a lot like a lot of these quarterbacks that are doing so well around the country. He’s big, about 6’3”, maybe a little taller, and has really good pocket presence. He can buy you a second chance against the pass rush. He’s very mobile, he’s very calm in the pocket and just doesn't make a whole lot of mistakes. He outplayed Barkley the other day and he is only a freshman. I think he is going to be a difference maker for UCLA as long as he stays healthy. The other thing I think the sanctions are starting to hurt USC. Like this recruiting class they've got signed up to come in this next year, a lot of people have them ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the country, but there’s only 15 players. Over the four years of eligibility players can get disenchanted with football, the kids can get hurt, or the players may not make it academically. USC depth is going to be impacted for several years and it looked like that played a part in UCLA winning the game this year.
David Fox (@DavidFox615):
UCLA is perfectly positioned to take over the top spot in Los Angeles over the coming years. I don’t think we can overestimate the the promise redshirt freshman Brett Hundley has shown all season, essentially outplaying the preseason Heisman favorite in a head-to-head matchup. USC is about to lose Matt Barkley, the scholarship limitations are about to cut into the Trojans depth and now the program has a question of leadership in Lane Kiffin. If UCLA can’t take over in Los Angeles in the next three or four years, then I don’t know when the Bruins will be able to do so. However, this is a program that has underachieved for more than two decades. Just because UCLA has taken the lead in L.A. this season, that doesn’t mean it’s going to continue. For example, UCLA went 10-2 back in 2005, but that evaporated in short order. Considering that, next season might be more telling than anything we’ve seen from UCLA this year.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
No. That will never happen until UCLA wins multiple Pac-12 championships in a short span and is competing for National Championships. The Bruins have all the necessary pieces to develop into a college football power, but have a long way to go to accomplish the type of dominance the Trojans claimed for the last decade. And until the powers that be in Westwood put their full financial support to developing the program, UCLA football will always be a basketball school. This weekend's win was a great statement, but to say they UCLA brand has surpassed the USC brand in SoCal and on the recruiting trail is foolish.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
Last Saturday’s win over USC could be an important milestone for UCLA’s program for the next five years. With the Trojans still dealing with the effects of NCAA sanctions and reduced scholarships once again in this recruiting class, it’s going to be difficult to have another shot at the national championship in 2013 or 2014. The Bruins aren’t going to be a national title contender next year, but they will be picked ahead of USC and the pieces are in place to win the Pac-12. At least for the next couple of years, I think the torch has been passed to UCLA. New coach Jim Mora is off to a good start and has the Bruins poised to land another solid recruiting class. The Trojans will always be the No. 1 brand in Los Angeles, but scholarship reductions and the loss of Matt Barkley will make it difficult to surpass UCLA in the Pac-12 South next season. In terms of long-term projection, I’d still take USC as the top program in Los Angeles. However, I think UCLA will edge the Trojans for the next few seasons.
UCLA certainly has bragging rights this season after defeating USC 38-28 on Saturday. And it's the Bruins, not the Trojans, who will be playing in the Pac-12 title game for a potential Rose Bowl berth, while Lane Kiffin's team will most likely have to settle for a bowl in mid- to late December at best. Still after just one season, it's hard to anoint UCLA as THE team in L.A., although it appears the Bruins' immediate future is a little more promising. Not only does Jim Mora have redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley to build around next year and beyond, but he will enter 2013 with more job security than his counterpart Kiffin. Who saw that coming entering this season? Kiffin not only has to pick up the pieces from what many thought was going to be a championship season, he will have to do so next season without quarterback Matt Barkley and several other key players who will either graduate or leave early for the NFL Draft. UCLA may not have surpassed USC just yet, but the Bruins are certainly gaining on their Trojan brethren and the gap seems to be narrowing with each passing week.
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