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USC-UCLA Power Rankings: Week 9

Reviewing the on-field hits and misses for L.A. teams after Week 8 of the 2010 college football season. This week: Both the Bruins and Trojans come up short against the cream of the Pac-10.

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1. UCLA's good deeds. Bruins Nation community members got to spend some time Saturday with a young Bruins fan and cancer patient on whose behalf they've been collecting research fund donations:

What a wonderful boy Tyler is!  He is outgoing, friendly, sweet and has such an amazing spirit.  The amount of heart and fight he must have to overcome the obstacles he has faced, and continues to face on a daily basis, is inspiring.   Through it all, he has a beautiful smile on his face.

2. Richard Brehaut. A capable performance from a kid with few expectations from a game-management standpoint: 13/27 completions, with one interception but those completions netted 228 yards and two touchdowns.

3. USC's defensive mettle (really). Conquest Chronicles likes what they saw from Monte Kiffin's band on Saturday, despite the high numbers on the scoreboard:

Despite all their shortcomings, despite giving up almost total 600 yards and 311 yards rushing, despite allowing 53 points, the defense did enough to win the game. That statement might sound ridiculous, but it is true. This squad stopped Oregon on seven of their first 11 possessions. They held the number one offense in the country just long enough to give the offense a chance. Going into this game everyone knew that USC needed just a few stops to make the game winnable. They got those stops. They did their job.

 

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4. Matt Barkley. He's only a sophomore, so it's no shame at all to say this, but the flickering darkhorse Heisman love affair is  over with for this season. He got little in the way of formidable help from his line on Saturday, and threw for 264 yards, but his completions were streaky at best and he threw two interceptions to one touchdown. His QB rating of 96.89 is his lowest of the season, and it's not particularly close.

5. UCLA's defensive ethos. Bruins Nation isn't pleased with the offensive output Arizona was able to generate on Saturday:

This afternoon's game stretched the concept of the 'bend, but don't break' defense that has all too often embodied this era's UCLA defense to the extreme. Come to think of it, I am not so sure that the 'don't break' aspect of that phrase really applies to this afternoon's game, despite the close margin of our defeat. Out of 8 possessions, Arizona scored 5 times in the first 3 Quarters, on drives of 80, 85, 44, 74, and 80 yards. Add in a 68 yard drive in the 2nd quarter that resulted in a Red Zone fumble, and it does not look like the defense was doing much other than bending (and missing tackles).

6. USC's big-picture stakes.  The high point, from a football standpoint, of the Trojans' 2010 season has been passed, but there's a lot of football left, and UCLA waiting at the end of the tunnel:

'SC needs to finish the season strong just to get better. We have seen progress but we still have a long way to go.

USC is also playing for the future.

A strong finish goes a long way on the recruiting trail. Players will take notice. Savvy players know you don't judge a program on a few losses but they will take notice if a program starts to mail it in when there isn't anything material to play for like a bowl game or a conference title.

7. USC's offensive depth. A lack of experienced players to spell the Trojans' stellar starters helped to do USC in Saturday night. Conquest Chronicles accepts it's the way of the world:

For all the attention we give the defense with regards to depth it sometimes gets lost that even our most reliable players start to tail off. It doesn't take much to mistime a catch or break away from a defender.

8. UCLA's injury report. Via Bruins Nation, here's the Daily News' rundown of the butcher's bill for Week 9:

Sophomore wide receiver Jerry Johnson and sophomore F-back Damien Thigpen were hurt in Saturday's game. Thigpen suffered a broken clavicle, and Johnson broke his ankle. Thigpen already had surgery, and Johnson is waiting on a second opinion to determine if he needs surgery.

Junior middle linebacker Steve Sloan, who became starter because of the loss of sophomore Patrick Larimore (shoulder) last week, strained a hamstring and is questionable for this week's matchup with Oregon State.

That leaves UCLA with only freshman Jordan Zumwalt in the middle, with scout team linebackers Isaiah Bowens and Mike Schmitt backing him up.

9. USC's cornerbacks. Conquest Chronicles gives low marks:

Shareece Wright was supposed to be one of the best cornerbacks in the Pac 10. Supposed to be. Wright's coverage was consistently soft and he got beat deep for a touchdown. And it seems as though the corners are incapable of shedding blocks and providing help in run defense. The group as a whole also is responsible for those aforementioned long touchdown passes, which were all the result of blown coverage.

10. UCLA's tackling (again). This is a dishearteningly familiar refrain for Bruins fans in 2010:

The tackling was simply atrocious. What was even more disheartening was to witness the putrid (have been using this word a lot wrt to our defense this season) performances of our two "captains":  Akeem Ayers and Rahim Moore. There were few plays it appeared as if Ayers basically quit. He was jogging instead of running and giving up.

We love Rahim's passion for the game and for the four letters. However, the painful fact is that he is a very poor tackler lacking in fundamentals.