There’s a lot happening in sports this week, so this is just a bits and pieces column, starting with the Rams and Chargers and their Fight for L.A. beginning for real this week as the NFL season opens.
The Chargers are very much the underdog in the Fight for L.A. The Rams played in Los Angeles for almost 50 years before moving to St. Louis and moved back here a year before the Chargers.
They play in a real (if aging) NFL stadium, not a soccer stadium.
That being said, the Chargers can contend for a playoff spot in arguably the NFL’s toughest division, the AFC West.
The Rams will need Jared Goff to turn into a combination of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady to even sniff the playoffs this year.
The Chargers open the season Sept. 11 at Denver at 7:15 p.m. in the last game of the opening week of the season.
The Rams host the Indianapolis Colts, minus Andrew Luck, at 1:15 p.m. Sept. 10. Missing Luck is a lucky break for the Rams.
STARTING TO GRIP: Dodgers fans are starting to feel real nervous. Winning one out of the last 11 games will do that to fans, who are generally pessimistic to begin with.
Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger have missed time with injuries, making it more obvious than ever who the key hitters in the lineup are. The starting pitching (with the exception of the always great Clayton Kershaw) has been horrible and Pedro Baez continues to show he can’t be trusted when the stakes are high out of the bullpen.
The magic number is stuck on 13, but if I told you in April that the Dodgers magic number would be 13 on Sept. 6, you would have been ecstatic. The Dodgers will rebound from this slump and win the division.
WHAT A COMEBACK: I posted on my Facebook page that Chick Hearn had put the UCLA game in the refrigerator when the Bruins trailed 38-10 in the second quarter Sept. 3. No way did I see that comeback coming.
Credit the Bruins for not quitting while scoring the second greatest come-from-behind win in NCAA major football history. Quarterback Josh Rosen was outstanding down the stretch, throwing for 289 yards and four touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone.
Rosen inserted himself back in the Heisman Trophy race with that performance and gave Bruins fans something to remember forever.
The Bruins might exceed expectations this year. They host Hawaii at the Rose Bowl at 2:15 p.m. Sept. 9.
TROJAN QUESTIONS: A friend of mine was highly critical of our other Southern California college football team after its opening performance.
The USC Trojans opened with a 49-31 win over Western Michigan. Who is Western Michigan, you ask?
They play in the Mid American Conference, which they dominated last season on their way to a 13-1 record. The only blemish was a 24-16 loss to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl.
The Trojans were favored by 28 points, but opening week point spreads are notoriously shaky.
We will find out much more what the Trojans have this season after they face Stanford Sept. 9.
WHAT AN UPSET: Speaking of shaky point spreads, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas was a 45-point favorite to Howard University Sept. 2 in Las Vegas.
Howard won, 43-40, in what is considered the biggest upset ever in college football.
Howard is a historically black college in Washington, D.C., that has a rabid Los Angeles alumni chapter, many of whom traveled to Las Vegas for the game.
Going back 50 years, when southern universities were still segregated for the most part, HBCUs provided many top-notch football players a path to the NFL.
The Rams Deacon Jones played at South Carolina State, Grambling State turned out Green Bay Packers defensive end Willie Davis, Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Buck Buchanan and Oakland Raiders defensive back Willie Brown.
More modern players like Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) and Mike Strahan (Texas Southern) also played at HBCUs.
In all, 29 members of the NFL Hall of Fame played at HBCUs. It was nice to see Howard put HBCUs back on the map, if only for one week.