The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to be thankful. In order to be thankful for what you have, it is important to remember where you have been.
So I’d like to remind you of a few things. Remember last week when this writer said there was no way Johnny Manziel and his maniacal style of QB play could dethrone the mighty Tide? Remember when this writer said there would be no way the Tide would have a letdown after the epic battle against LSU? Remember when this writer said Texas A&M would not be able to move the ball because they struggled at the hands of LSU and Florida?
Okay, enough remembering. I’m thankful for a new week and a new opponent.
Who would have thought UCLA would be ranked higher than USC heading into their showdown on Saturday?
Okay, I know there isn't much of a difference between No. 17 and No. 18, but everyone thought USC would be favored by double-digits and two wins away from playing in the BCS National Championship.
Funny how things work out in the world of college football.
Just ask Alabama, you can't assume anything.
USC was one of the favorites to win it all this year, now they have to beat UCLA on the road just to win the Pac-12 South.
This is the undoubtedly the biggest rivalry on the West Coast, and it finally has some flare back.
The winner earns a spot in the Pac-12 Championship, and a chance to represent the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl.
This rivalry hasn't been too competitive of late. USC has won the last five by an average of 24.6 points. The Trojans have won 12 of the last 13 meetings against the Bruins.
However, Jim Mora Jr. has changed the mindset down in UCLA. The (8-2, 5-2) Bruins have been one of the best teams in the Pac-12 this year.
USC vs. UCLA: Brett Hundley Hopes To Complete UCLA's Return To Relevancy Against Matt Barkley's Trojans
They meet again, this time in the Rose Bowl on Saturday afternoon. It’ll be the 82nd edition between the two. Unfortunately, it’s been a decade since the Southern California-UCLA college football matchup started drifting away rivalry to one-sided domination.
Following a couple relatively competitive contests won by the Trojans to bridge millenniums, Pete Carroll’s arrival in 2001 as USC head coach signaled the end of any competition between the two, on the field or off. From blowout victories to Heisman Trophy winners to enticing fans and blue-chip recruits alike, the Cardinal-colored cross-town rival has had it all over the Bruins.
UCLA managed to scratch out a 13-9 decision in 2006, but that’s the only “gotcha” it can claim against USC since the 1990s. In the interim, the Trojans re-emerged as a national power and made Los Angeles pretty much all its own.
Not even the energy, enthusiasm and verbal challenges by Rick Neuheisel upon his return to UCLA as coach of his alma mater managed to register a blip on the relevance screen.
It’s amazing. The top dog in the Southeastern Conference – heck, the top dog in the entire country – gets its comeuppance one week and suddenly a nation of college football followers receives a reprieve from getting hit over the head with the reality that the SEC is helmet and shoulders above every other circuit.
In short, the best league this side of Sunday play won’t be taking centerstage for a weekend. It’s slate is pretty paltry. In its top-billing place, well, it ain’t much more than paltry, either.
But at least a pair of Pac-12 powerhouses will square off Saturday night in Eugene, Ore., when No. 2 Oregon (10-0, 7-0 conference) hosts No. 13 Stanford (8-2, 6-1). That, clearly, is the highlight game of Week 12 in the 2012 campaign.
It may, however, not be the best contest between quality opponents. Look for that “honor” to fall to Big East frontrunner Rutgers – hey, the 22nd-ranked Scarlet Knights are 8-1, 4-0 in the conference, and tough as nails across the board – facing underrated and unranked, but dangerous Cincinnati. The host Bearcats are 7-2 (3-1 Big East) and very easily could be unbeaten at this point, if not for some sloppy ballhanding.
He comes across as the crusty curmudgeon to many, if not all who reside outside the confines of Crimson Tide bliss. But, for those of who are don’t bow down to the right-here, right-now bottom-line philosophy of “a win is a win is a win … no matter how crappy you perform,” Alabama football coach Nick Saban spoke the truth about his squad’s showing the past two weeks.
Point being – the previously top-ranked Tide didn’t play well the Saturday of either week. Initially, they got away with that, sneaking out of a Baton Rouge, La., with a last-minute victory they really didn’t earn. Stuck in the same, “resting on their laurels” rut, they gave a similar effort next time … and paid for it.
In short, he could see trouble brewing when ’Bama faced off against Louisiana State, if not earlier. The warning signs were there. Frankly, the Tigers dominated the Tide two weeks ago. They outgained their visitors all evening, and if not for that 72-yard TD drive down the stretch, LSU would have doubled up ‘Bama in that all-telling stat.
In another all-telling stat, the Tide lost the turnover battle, too. They coughed it up twice; LSU not once.