What's at stake? Comparatively? Oh, everything. In order of areas of concern that are least to most pressing:
1. USC offense: Bring that beat back. Matt Barkley's healed up sufficiently, per Lane Kiffin, so on the scoring side of the ball, given the opposing defense (if you want to call it that), everything's fine, right? Will the lost rhythm even make a difference if the Bruins can't stop the Trojans' ground game?
2. UCLA offense: Was last week a blip? Richard Brehaut, he of the star turn in Week 13, if it was any more than a flash in the pan, can make up some ground for the Bruins' woeful defense with quick passing.
3. USC defense: Even if UCLA's offense was a blip, will it matter? The Trojans' secondary is the 112th-ranked unit in Division I-A against the pass. Even with falloff from last week, Brehaut & Co. should still be able to move the ball.
4. UCLA defense: SOMEBODY TACKLE SOMEBODY ALREADY. The Bruins, for their part, are 103rd nationally against the run, giving up a bewildering 6.6 yards per rushing attempt. USC coaches, time to open up those tailbacks like they've got freeways of green in front of them.
5. Saving what can be saved. There's no postseason for either team this year. But this game is always a story. Somebody's breaking a two-game losing streak to close out their season, and somebody's going home with a lot of uncomfortable questions. Kiffin can dissemble until he's blue in the face, but just ask the fans -- this is a Big Damn Deal:
Kiffin may not see it as a big deal when it come to recruiting but is sure as hell matters to the fans, alums and boosters...you know, the people have pay a significant portion of the bills.
These comments only show me that there is nothing big planned for the team to get the fan base fired up. He is kidding himself if he thinks that this game doesn't matter to current players and prospective recruits...
Bruins Nation concurs:
We need this game. There are dozens of HIGH caliber recruits that will be in attendance. These guys could be the ones that put us over the hump. Maybe if we can stomp on the Trogans, we can convince them to do the same. It's a long shot, especially for guys like Tony Steward and Colt Lyerla, but these are the athletes we desperately need in Blue and Gold.