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November 30, 2013

Momentum in UCLA-USC series runs in streaks

LOS ANGELES—The rivalry that splits Los Angeles like an earthquake fault has often been one-sided.

UCLA and USC — or is it USC and UCLA? — have taken turns playing king of the Santa Monica Mountains.

UCLA’s 38-28 victory last season shook things up, and the Bruins can hope it signals a shift in the terrain — another eight-game winning streak?

Or, from USC’s vantage point, was it merely a bump along the landscape? The Trojans won five more consecutive games after a streak-stopping, 13-9 loss in 2006.

Everyone might have a better idea of what last season’s result meant, or didn’t mean, after the Bruins and Trojans play football for the 83rd time Saturday at the Coliseum.

UCLA players enter the game thinking control of the city is within their grasp.

“When I first got here, people thought, ‘Another UCLA football team trying to do what they can to win football games,’” Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley said. “Now I think people understand it’s not a UCLA football team coming to play. It’s the UCLA football team coming to play.”

No surprise that USC linebacker Devon Kennard, a fifth-year senior who had to sit out last year’s game because of a torn chest muscle, sees things differently.

“We’ve got a great opportunity to go out there and take back L.A.,” he said, “and that’s what we’re focused on.”

The rivalry was born with Alpha Dog dominance, and both sides have been wanting to woof about superiority ever since.

Getting another victory this season would “put this program right where we want it to be,” UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks said.

The Bruins’ place being? “Beating the people we should beat,” Kendricks said.

It’s an idea that has roots.

The same year the stock market crashed, so did UCLA. USC christened the series with a 76-0 pasting in 1929 and had a 12-2-4 series record until Red Sanders arrived in Westwood in 1949.

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