This college football weekend brings us the penultimate games for both the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins before they play each other next weekend. The Trojans end with two rivalry games, beginning with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this week, while UCLA tries to keep its bowl hopes alive beginning with a game at the Arizona State Sun Devils on Friday.
1. Backup Vs. Backup. Lane Kiffin hopes to have Matt Barkley back out on the field this week, but even if he gets the Golden Fleece back up on two good legs, will Barkley last the whole game? With Notre Dame's Dayne Crist sidelined with injuries of his own, this storied game could very well be decided by two quarterbacks with little starting experience, Mitch Mustain and Tommy Rees.
2. Pistol Vs. Pro. Bruins Nation wonders whether UCLA's foray into the pistol offense needs to be curtailed for the sake of the collective sanity of everyone involved:
Let's go back to the start of Spring Ball. CRN and Norm Chow started toying with the idea of the pistol, possibly as a formation set. In summer/fall, the decision was made to practice almost exclusively in the pistol, as a way to improve our stagnant running game. It's success in doing so was evident in the Houston, Texas, and Washington State games, as well as the fact that for most of the year we were a top-50 rushing team nationally. However, our improvement running the ball has been offset by a complete and utter regression in the passing game. We now rank 115th in passing efficiency, and it's not like most of out opponents are world-beaters when it comes to shutting down quarterbacks.
3. Who's behind the trigger? Even if they figure out where they want to go schematically in the long term, in the short term, UCLA's having quarterback problems of their own. The oft-injured and now-concussed Richard Brehaut is practicing in a no-contact jersey.
4. 1st Round Guhhhhhhh. It's been big news for what, a week? And we're already sick to death of the Dillon Baxter/Jordan Campbell/1st Round story. We think this might have something to do with Teague Egan's face. Is it superficial to hope he's cleared by the weekend just so we don't have to hear about it during the broadcast? Conquest Chronicles will have the latest news on Baxter's status as the game approaches.
5. The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is lovely this time of year. Mathematically, the Bruins are still in contention for a bowl. Can they pull it together in time to secure a a postseason game?