LOS ANGELES — This is how it should be in the biggest college football crosstown rivalry in the country.
USC versus UCLA for a chance to move on to what’s next.
In the old days, a win often meant a spot in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. But here in 2015, USC vs. UCLA is for the Pac 12 Southern Division championship and the right to play Stanford in the Pac 12 title game Dec. 5 at Levi’s Stadium on Santa Clara.
The winner of the Pac 12 championship game will advance to the Rose Bowl.
It’s been an up-and-down season for both schools. USC enters with a 7-4 record after losing to Oregon 48-28 Nov. 21.
UCLA is 8-3 after defeating Utah, 17-9.
USC is playing for interim coach Clay Helton’s job, although the loss to Oregon practically ensured that the Trojans will have a new head coach in January, if not sooner.
UCLA is hoping to extend its win streak to four games over USC, but despite winning the last three games, UCLA has been outscored by USC over the last four games in the rivalry.
That’s because USC’s last win in 2011 was a 50-0 rout that the few remaining Bruins still remember all too vividly.
Don’t expect that kind of blowout this year, but do expect a good hard-fought game that should still be competitive in the fourth quarter.
UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen continues to grow, while USC’s Cody Kessler has faded during a senior season he entered as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
As usual, USC has the best athletes, but the Trojans have trouble playing as a team sometimes, a problem Jim Mora won’t tolerate as UCLA’s head coach. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. in the Coliseum. My prediction: USC 38-35.
A SOLID HIRE: Kudos to the Dodgers for hiring Dave Roberts as their new manager.
Number one, he’s a home-grown talent. He played college ball at UCLA and spent three years with the Dodgers, 2002-04.
Number two, he’s the first minority to manage the Dodgers. Yes, 68 years after the Dodgers broke the players color barrier with Jackie Robinson and 41 years after Frank Robinson became the first black manager, the Dodgers now have a black manager. Roberts also is half Japanese, a fact probably not lost with the Dodgers management noting the region’s large Asian population.
Number three, Roberts is a people person who should be able to bring all of the personalities of the Dodgers together to unite for a common goal — a championship.
Gabe Kapler, who was a finalist with Roberts for the judge, is perceived as too much of a protégé of Dodgers President of Baeball Operations Andrew Friedman to have commanded the respect the he would need from the players.
Roberts, coming over from San Diego, won’t have that problem. That World Series ring he helped lead the Boston Red Sox to in 2004 also will speak volumes to the Dodgers players who hunger after a ring of their own.
Now if only the Dodgers could straighten out their television situation, resign Zack Greinke, sign another top starter and a setup man for the bullpen and trade for a new second baseman they would be set for 2016. I don’t think Santa can help with that list.
PLAYOFF RANKS THINNING: The Los Angeles City and CIF Southern Section football playoffs enter the semifinals Nov. 27, and the ranks are thinning fast.
Gardena Serra was eliminated Nov. 20, falling to Mater Dei, 28-27 in the Pac 5 Division. That leaves St. John Bosco as the lone area survivor in the Pac 5.
The Braves face the Bishop Amat Lancers this week after a 52-14 win over Loyola, while Mater Dei faces Corona Centennial. Centennial defeated Orange Lutheran 49-27.
Friday’s winners meet in Angel Stadium in Anaheim for the Pac 5 championship Dec. 5.
The only other Southern Section teams remaining are in the Southeast Division where top-seeded Whittier La Serna advanced with a 68-42 win over Harvard Westlake and Cathedral edged Downey 22-20.
La Serna faces St. Francis this week and Cathedral plays La Mirada, which eliminated Dominguez, 38-13 last week.
In the L.A. City section, longtime rivals Crenshaw and Dorsey stayed alive for a potential matchup in the City Division I title game Dec. 4.
Dorsey defeated Sylmar, 43-33 Nov. 20 to advance to the semifinals against Narbonne Nov. 27.
Crenshaw spanked Garfield, 54-19, and advances against Arleta this week.
In Division II, top seed Los Angeles hammered Huntington Park, 80-0, Nov. 20. The Romans face Jefferson this week, a 47-45 winner over Canoga Park. Fairfax versus Chatsworth is the other semifinal game
In Division III, West Adams defeated Franklin, 62-34, and faces Belmont in one semifinal this week.
Manual Arts is in the other semifinal after a 41-30 win over Marquez. The Toilers face Hollywood, a 36-7 winner over North Hollywood.
CERRITOS LOSES: The Cerritos Falcons were defeated by the Long Beach City Vikings in a Southern California junior college playoff game Nov. 21, 34-30.
The Vikings scored the winning touchdown with 34 seconds left, one play after quarterback Jack Lowary hooked up with receiver Mike Wilson on a 47-yard pass play from the 49-yard line on a third-down-and-28 play.
Lowary scored on the next play.
The Falcons let a 23-10 third quarter lead get away, but the Vikings scored 17 points in a 2:25 span at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth to take the lead.
The Falcons regained the lead with 4:08 left in the game on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Walker to Dashawn Gordon, which left the Vikings just enough time left to win.
Long Beach City faces Saddleback for the Southern California championship Nov. 28. Cerritos ends its season with an 8-3 mark.