UCLA has invited its top recruits to the Rose Bowl on Saturday for the rivalry game against USC, a privilege reserved for the home team.
“The recruits are going to enjoy the pageantry of the crowd, the stadium. What a great weekend to come to Southern California and see the city excited for this game,” Coach Rick Neuheisel said Wednesday. “It’s a great thing to be a part of and I hope they want to be part of it on our side.”
Among those expected to attend is the Bruins’ major recruit, quarterback Brett Hundley of Chandler, Ariz.
“Big game, huge rivalry. Recruiting is an added incentive for us to do well,” sophomore quarterback Richard Brehaut said. “The coaches worry about it more than the players, but in addition to sending our seniors out with a win, I’d love to show these kids this is a turning-point game for us, and make them want to be a part of our program.”
If USC wins, however, it could prove more attractive to an undecided recruit and reap the benefits of the Bruins’ hospitality.
“You can’t worry about that,” Neuheisel said. “Fear is not part of the equation.”
Saturday night reply?
Neuheisel said he’d heard of USC Coach Lane Kiffin’s cross-town shot to Times columnist T.J. Simers that two Pacific 10 Conference coaches had called Kiffin to say, “Please don’t let [Neuheisel] win this game,” adding, “If you call the other seven coaches, they would probably say the same thing.”
“I’d love to say something,” Neuheisel said. “It’s not necessary to respond.”
Neuheisel said he was pleased with practice, reminding the players that “a big-time stage requires big-time effort.”
Recovering concussion cases
Freshman defensive tackle Cassius Marsh and sophomore cornerback Andrew Abbott each practiced in limited-contact red jerseys and said they expected to play Saturday after suffering concussions.
“I’ve had no lingering effects and I’m doing great on the memory tests,” Abbott said.
Said Marsh: “I’ll be back Saturday. They checked my short-term memory, did a post-concussion test. I passed it. I’m cool.”
With three field goals Saturday, Kai Forbath would break the NCAA record for most field goals in a career. One more makes him UCLA’s all-time leader.
Forbath said he is still shaken by what happened to Boise State’s Kyle Brotzman, who missed a game-winning field-goal try with two seconds to play and a go-ahead field-goal try in overtime Friday in the Broncos’ 34-31 loss at Nevada, blowing the team’s shot at a possible national title-game appearance.
“I watched it, I feel so bad for the guy,” Forbath said. “Being a kicker, I never want another guy to miss. It’s bad karma.
“I saw what [Brotzman] said, that he still had the first kick in his mind and couldn’t get past it before the second. It’s so crucial to clear your mind. Easier said than done.”
Rees has ‘Rudy’ moment
Non-scholarship senior holder Danny Rees is the Bruins’ nominee for the Rudy Award, which will be voted on by fans through Dec. 13 at https://www.collegerudyawards.com.
Rees, a second-year holder for Forbath, said he has long been inspired by the film about the Notre Dame walk-on, Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. Rees’ brother, Tommy, played quarterback for the Fighting Irish last week at USC.
“Rudy had it a lot harder than me, but I always believed not having a scholarship doesn’t mean you can’t fight for finding a spot on the field any way you can,” Rees said.
Rees, among 55 Rudy Award nominees, has been a 10-time selection on UCLA’s honor roll and he volunteers at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.
With no bowl bid on the line, Saturday’s game has lost some luster. Tickets remain for sale at uclabruins.com and at (310) UCLA-WIN.