Battle for Los Angeles
There's a sign sitting outside the Los Angeles Coliseum that quite frankly tells UCLA fans to go back to Westwood. And in case the strongly worded sign didn't give them a hint, there's a UCLA fan propped up against a tree, holding a piece of construction paper labeled "resume" and a sign labeled "will work for food." And if the point is still lost in translation, just a few tailgates away there is a bruin pinata, carefully constructed with a knife through its head.
This side of Los Angeles is clearly Trojan territory.
On a college campus in south central Los Angeles, a crowd of a several thousand was slowly gathering. The quad in the middle of campus had been cleared, a stage set up at one end, a bonfire at the other. Large, four-foot tall, bright orange and yellow letters were propped up against trees and cast an eerie glow over the students sitting around them. By 8 p.m. the crowd had grown considerably in size, and everyone was waiting for something to happen.
All of a sudden, faint chants of "beat the bruins" started working their way toward the students and alumni gathered, and soon, in the dark, between two buildings, the Trojan marching band started filtering onto the field. They marched in to clears and applause and soon the whole crowd was chanting along with them.
It was time for the Conquest.
Spirit of Troy
The sun was quickly setting over the Southern Cal campus and cast long shadows from the light standards that lit up the track and field stadium. Down on the field, the 100 or so members of the USC marching band--the best band in the history of the universe--and boy, did they look tired.
Hitting hard 17
No one likes an Englishman who hits on fifteen when the dealer shows three. Unfortunately, we all have to deal with our little problems in life. The Englishman was mine. It got to the point where I was cheering for him whenever he hit 19 or 20... because he wouldn't take the dealer's bust cards anymore. Funny thing about it was, it was all working fairly well for both of us.
Best of the Road
Only six days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and some seconds are left of this trip--not that we are counting--and about five days, 16 hours, some minutes left until USC and UCLA kick off to start our last regular season game. Sigh. We've had some long drives on the road, some time to reflect, some time to debate and a lot of time to listen to Journey.
USC and UCLA should be a great note to end the season on--but we've already compiled our list of season bests. Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
The Game, In Real Time
As the Holy War gets under way, I thought I'd try to report on what's going on in real time. Now, I can't figure out how to make this thing update in real time and scroll across the front page of CSTV.com. But this has to be the next best thing. Here we go.
The Holy War
Rivalry games are big this weekend, and we are going to one of the most hotly contested games in the west, the Holy War between Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. A lot of hype surrounds this game--we've heard everything from how intense (some say bitter) the rivalry is to how important the game is for in-state bragging rights to how much is actually on the line this season (a Mountain West conference title, specifically). And while we are hesitant to get our hopes up--the New Mexico/New Mexico State rivalry never proved as divisive as expected--the stories we've heard from both current and former players have started affirming that something exciting is going to happen Saturday in Provo.
Let it Snow
Close to eight inches of snow are on the ground in Missoula, Montana, if not more by now. It started falling last night, softly at first, as we followed a winding two-lane highway through the mountains between Idaho and Montana. It started so softly, in fact, that it was impossible to tell it was snow until there was a light white dusting on the pine trees that populate the mountain slopes. But soon an hour had passed, the sun had set, the road was completely covered and by morning, there were eight inches of snow on the ground.
Well--according to the hotel desk clerk in Missoula, there might have been closer to nine or ten inches.
"I've never seen it quite like this," he said to me this morning as we both stood outside, staring at the tree branches weighed down by the snow. "At least not this early."
On the Brink
Alex Brink likes setting records for Washington State. The senior quarterback is WSU's all-time leader in career passing yards, touchdown passes (71) and pass completions (800). He also is the only quarterback to have five 400-plus yard games, leads the list of 200-plus yard games at 29 and counting and in the Pac-10 record books he ranks in the top five in four categories among active players.
And going into Saturday's game against Oregon State--a wild, wet contest played throughout spurts of downpours--it seemed like he would set some more. But sometimes Alex Brink has to settle for a tie.
He only threw six touchdowns Saturday--tying the school's record for interceptions in a single game.
To say that western Oregon is beautiful sells the landscape a little short. To say that it is beautiful, wonderful, marvelous, beautiful, striking and beautiful does not quite capture it adequately. Try and throw in a few more beautifuls, a few gasps, some ooh and ahhhs, and you might have a chance of coming close.
But probably not.