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This greatest-hits package has Walker as the producer

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UCLA’s attempt to bring the rivalry back to the cross-town rivalry began on USC’s first play, when defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker delivered a message to USC quarterback John David Booty, with Reggie Carter happily playing the role of courier.

Walker saw this as a personal battle between himself and the quarterback. Not Pete Carroll, Steve Sarkisian, Lane Kiffin or anyone else on the USC coaching staff.

“I just made my mind up: we’ve got to put pressure on Booty,” Walker said. “That was my whole game plan.”

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So Walker sent Carter on a linebacker blitz right from the go. Carter forced Booty to rush an incomplete pass, knocked him to the ground and then stood over the Trojan.

“I told him to get used to it,” Carter said. “It’s going to be here all day.”

Carter, Walker, the suddenly fleet feet of Patrick Cowan and the rest of the Bruins made good on his vow, keeping the heat on USC, hanging tough to the very end for the 13-9 upset.

The question now is whether they can keep the pressure on for good, make this a two-team town and a tossup game year-in, year-out. Was Saturday afternoon’s hard-earned victory the peak, or the start?

When the euphoria from this game wears off and the Bruins reconvene for practice, they will be preparing for the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 27. Yet another season that will end before January. That’s not acceptable to an increasingly intolerant UCLA fan base that has watched Carroll’s successful run at USC over the last five years -- and UCLA’s futility in this matchup that predates it -- and wondered why they can’t have some of that success themselves.

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero shares their wishes, if not their frustration with Coach Karl Dorrell. If there’s any heat on Dorrell, you won’t find matches in Guerrero’s pockets. Fresh off the victory Saturday, Guerrero didn’t say “Told you so,” but he did use the word “validates” twice.

“We made an investment in Karl,” Guerrero said. “I don’t like what I see in college athletics a lot, where coaches are being replaced without an opportunity to show their stuff in a general sense.

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“That being said, we have expectations and we want to move this program forward. We want to compete on a national level. I understand that takes time. If I didn’t think things were on the right track -- I mean, look at my career. I’m not hesitant to make those decisions [referring to his quick hooks for Bob Toledo and Steve Lavin after Guerrero took the job]. But I don’t see that [with Dorrell]. I saw a lot of things this year that showed that we were on the right track.”

It depends what parts he watched. This same Bruins team that took out the second-ranked team in the nation Saturday lost to the second-worst team in the Pacific 10 Conference 10 weeks ago. This three-game winning streak to finish the regular season was preceded by a four-game losing skid.

In October the Bruins went to Notre Dame and outplayed the Irish for most of the afternoon, only to lose when the coaches became overly cautious on both sides of the ball and Notre Dame staged a last-minute comeback.

That game indicated to many -- including me -- that while Dorrell might be a winner (he’s now 17-7 over the last two seasons) he didn’t have the makeup of a champion.

But maybe we have to wait a little longer for the picture to develop. (That is, if anyone’s still using film and not digital cameras).

Walker said he learned his lesson from that collapse, when the Bruins backed off their attack on quarterback Brady Quinn that had worked all day.

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“If I ever get myself in that situation again, I’m going to play to win,” Walker said.

So, fittingly, the big play of this game was made by a Bruins defender, when Eric McNeal tipped and then intercepted a Booty pass to snuff a drive with 1:10 remaining.

It’s evident Dorrell is learning too. Walker’s hire showed Dorrell realized that he needs experienced, accomplished coaches on his staff, not just a bunch of guys from Northern Arizona.

And Dorrell continues to emerge from his shell. During a timeout in the fourth quarter he got the entire team off the bench, crowding past the sideline and onto the field. The USC players stepped onto the field as well, and both sides started jumping around and posturing like the Sharks and the Jets.

Dorrell said he told his players, now that they were in position to do something great, what were they doing to do about it?

“We were all excited about this challenge,” Dorrell said. “And they were too. It was a great, festive atmosphere.”

With both sides participating. After giving so much in the previous seven meetings with USC, the Bruins finally stood firm.

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When the Trojans tried to muscle their way on third and fourth and short, UCLA repeatedly turned them back.

Afterward, Dorrell worked the recruits who gathered in the UCLA locker room.

“Wasn’t that a great win?” he said, to smiles and nods.

This is one of Dorrell’s tasks, to turn this victory into a haul come signing day.

(One recruit’s dad sounded ready, saying, “We want to play for you, Coach!”)

In one day, the Bruins had buzz again.

As Walker said: “This is where we are. Let’s see where we can take this.”

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J.A. Adande can be reached at j.a.adande@latimes.com. To read more by Adande go to latimes.com/adandeblog.

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