LOS ANGELES — Two weeks ago, it appeared that the winner of this year’s USC-UCLA football game would only be playing for the right to play in a second- or third-tier bowl game in December.
What a difference a week — and key victories for both teams — makes.
A week after getting obliterated by Stanford, 56-35 Oct. 15, the Bruins bounced back Oct. 22 with a huge 40-24 victory over then-20th-ranked Cal. The win left the Bruins with a 5-2 record, 2-2 in the Pac 12 Conference.
The USC Trojans had an even better bounce-back game. After losing to Notre Dame in South Bend, 41-31 Oct. 17 in interim coach Clay Helton’s first game, the Trojans ended No. 3-ranked Utah’s hopes for an undefeated season with an impressive 42-24 victory Oct. 24. The Trojans are now 4-3, 2-2 in Pac 12 play.
Utah is still leading the Southern Division of the Pac 12 Conference with a 3-1 record in conference, but the Utes still have to play the Bruins Nov. 21 in Salt Lake City.
If the Bruins and the Trojans both win the rest of their games, the Nov. 28 rivalry game could be for the Pac 12 Southern Division championship and a berth in the Pac 12 championship game Dec. 5 in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
Of course, Stanford, at 5-0, is leading the Pac 12 Northern Division and has already beaten both the Trojans and the Bruins, so neither team can start planning to play in one of the Football Bowl Championship playoff games yet.
But things are certainly looking better for both teams than they were 10 days ago.
The Trojans travel to Cal for a noon game Oct. 31, while the Bruins play host to Colorado at noon the same day.
BOLTS READY TO BOLT: To their fans, the San Diego Chargers are often referred to as the Bolts, a reference to the lightning bolts on their helmets.
The Chargers last week made it official: they will apply to the National Football league to relocate to Los Angeles for the 2016 season.
The Chargers are the first of three teams hoping to move to Los Angeles — the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders are the others — to announce they will begin the formal relocation process.
Chargers executive Mark Fabiani went on a San Diego-area sports radio station Oct. 25 to say the Chargers would apply to move to the much-larger TV market because the Raiders and Rams are ready to do the same.
“At this point, yes, because there’s no sign that the other team or teams are not going to file,” Fabiani said.
“Everyone assumes all three teams will file, and in that case we can’t afford to lose our market in Los Angeles and Orange County.”
Although they have been based in San Diego since 1961 (the Chargers spent their first season in the old American Football League at the Coliseum in 1960), the Chargers have sold as much as 30 percent of their season tickets in Los Angeles and Orange counties since the Rams and Raiders moved after the 1994 season.
The Chargers are in a partnership with the Raiders to build a new stadium together in Carson.
The Rams have their sights on the old Hollywood Park race track in Inglewood.
None of the three teams can file for relocation until after the regular season ends in January, although the NFL could decide at its December owners meeting to move up the process and allow teams to file for relocation by the end of the year.
The Chargers have been asking for a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium for at least 15 years without much progress.
The Rams have a stadium that was built in 1995, but under the terms of the team’s list, the Rams can leave after this year if the stadium is not considered among the top tier stadiums in the league.
The Raiders play in the Oakland Coliseum, which is older and more dilapidated than the Chargers’ facility.
While San Diego and St. Louis have made offers to help their teams stay, Oakland has made no such offer.
On Oct. 27, the NFL held a town hall meeting in St. Louis for Rams fans to voice their opinions about the possibility of their team leaving.
Similar meetings were held Oct. 28 in San Diego and Oct. 29 in Oakland.
It’s all part of the NFL relocation process that could see a team playing in the Coliseum as early as next year. Whether a new stadium will be built in Carson or Inglewood will be up to the league, which probably won’t make a decision until after the Super Bowl in February
OLYMPIC BID: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti left Tuesday for Washington, D.C., to attend a meeting of Olympic and sports officials from more than 200 nations.
Garcetti joined the LA2024 Bid Committee at the Association of National Olympic Committees General Assembly, a gathering of Olympic officials from around the world. He was scheduled to return Friday.
“This is just a chance to get to know them, to introduce our city’s bid to them, to tell them why it’s such an amazing city, and a new city since 1984,” Garcetti said before leaving town.
The trip is also an opportunity “to really listen to how the Olympic movement is trying to be a more sustainable, cost-effective and relevant event,” Garcetti said.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and other IOC members also were in attendance at the event, which is taking place in the United States for the first time in more than 20 years.
This is the second out-of-town trip Garcetti has taken to support Los Angeles’ bid to host the Olympics since Los Angeles replaced Boston as the U.S. candidate in September. Garcetti visited the IOC headquarters in Switzerland in September.
NO MORE MATTINGLY: It was no big surprise that the Dodgers and manager Don Mattingly parted ways last week.
Mattingly didn’t want to manage with only a year remaining on his contract after leading the Dodgers to three straight National League Western Division titles and the new Dodgers front office brass didn’t want to extend him after he failed to get past the National League Divisional Series for the second year in a row.
Mattingly did a fine job with the Dodgers this year, leading them to 92 wins with only two reliable starting pitchers and a bullpen that imploded regularly during the first four and a half months of the season.
But the Dodgers are going to overhaul their roster even more this off-season, trying to reduce payroll and get younger at the same time.
Look for Mattingly to get hired by the Miami Marlins as soon as the World Series ends.
The Dodgers will take a little longer to hire their next manager. It could be bench coach Tim Wallach, who has yet to manage in the Major Leagues; or third base coach Ron Roenicke, who managed the Milwaukee Brewers as recently as May.
Or, the Dodgers could make Gabe Kapler, the director of player development, the next manager. Kapler is a former major league outfielder who grew up in the San Fernando Valley.
He has one year of minor league managing experience, but he is a favorite of the front office and many national baseball writers expect him to be the choice.
BALLS FOR BANNING: At one point in time Banning High School was one of the strongest football programs in the Los Angeles City Section. On Oct. 23, the National Football League paid tribute to that football tradition by presenting three golden footballs to the school in honor of the three former Banning High football players who have appeared in the Super Bowl.
They players are Vince Ferragamo who played quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV in 1980; Courtney Hall, who was an offensive lineman for the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX in 1995; and Bob Whitfield, who was an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999.
The NFL makes similar presentations to every high school attended by a player who played in a Super Bowl.
Banning received the three golden footballs, each inscribed with the player’s name and the Super Bowl in which they took part, during halftime ceremonies of the Oct. 23 game against George Washington Prep.
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