One question going into the season was whether a team with 26 transfers would appreciate something like the Crosstown Rivalry?
“It’s another game to me,” USC QB Caleb Williams said. “I’ve been in other big rivalry games so far in my career, so I’m just treating it like another game.”
I suppose Williams is referring to last year’s Oklahoma-Texas and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State games.
The stakes are so high on Saturday that it should be easy for even the transfers to appreciate the Crosstown Rivalry.
From a coaching standpoint, Lincoln Riley might see it as an advantage. He wants the players to play as if it is another game so maybe the transfers will be less emotional at the Rose Bowl. Pete Carroll used to say USC won big games because it played to its normal level while opponents often played worse because they were too pumped up for the game.
From a purely historical perspective, however, it’s probaby safe to say some of the transfers aren’t too concerned about the rivalry, unless it will increase NIL opportunities.
- Yesterday, I said UCLA was providing the few colorful quotes this week. Apparently, it’s a deliberate plan.
“One of the first things that we talked about as a group and as a team is focusing on us,” Williams said. “Not focusing on social media . . . with other teams, what they have to say, or what they’re doing or anything like that.”
That said, I’m sure USC is letting its players know about any incendiary quotes and I’ve heard players were made aware of the L.A. Times column predicting a UCLA victory.
- Alex Grinch will be under the spotlight, as usual, Saturday, as he tries to get a four-quarter performance out of the USC defense
“It’s all hands on deck,” Grinch said. “You’ve got to make sure that if you’re not on a body in coverage, then you’ve got to go attack the quarterback. From a run-fit standpoint, we’ve got to win and not just be in your gap, but destroy blocks.
“Find ways to eliminate some plays (before you) even allow them to get started. If they get every play started, it’s very tough to play defense.”