Crosstown ramifications

An impressive list of local recruits will be at the Rose Bowl on Saturday as guests of UCLA, but the highly anticipated crosstown showdown is also a spotlight of sorts for USC.

The Bruins have made tremendous strides under first-year coach Jim Mora this season, while the Trojans have limped their way through a bumpy 7-3 campaign that began with BCS championship aspirations. The rivalry, though, is as lively as it has been the past decade. For the first time since 2001, UCLA is ranked ahead of USC heading into the matchup, creating a balance that has both fan bases abuzz with excitement.

USC quarterback Matt Barkley famously used the phrase "unfinished business" when he announced he would return for his senior season. Dreams of raising the BCS trophy have since vanished. At stake on Saturday will be a spot in the Pac-12 championship game as the South Division representative. That's an appealing prize for a program coming off a postseason ban.