AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 USC has won back-to-back national championships, Heisman Trophy candidates Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. But No. 20 UCLA plays host to the big game in town this weekend, against No. 10 California in a matchup of undefeated teams. Across town, No. 1 USC plays Arizona in what should equate to little more than a tuneup for Notre Dame next week. UCLA and USC are each 4-0 to start a season for the first time since 1988, and a combined crowd of better than 150,000 at the Rose Bowl and Coliseum today would set a single-day record. College football is king in Los Angeles. “There’s a lot of buzz because they seem like they’re on a collision course to meet later in the year,” said Charles Arbuckle, a college football analyst for ESPNU and former UCLA tight end. “USC is so strong and for so long, the hardest part for me was that even if we were really good, they always gave us a good game. Now they’ve really separated themselves and Pete Carroll has done an excellent job recruiting. The quarterback engineered an exhilarating second-half comeback to complete one of college football’s best finishes last week. The tight end draws double-team coverage every down because he is a mismatch for any defender on the field. The running back, who has freakishly muscular legs, hurdles would-be tacklers as though he was playing a game of leap frog. He also is a threat to score every time he returns a punt, although opponents aren’t inclined to give him many opportunities. “Karl (Dorrell) is bringing back the tradition. Those (UCLA) guys are playing with a different attitude and different swagger, which was what made me go there from Houston.” Arbuckle played on the 1988 UCLA team that started 7-0 but lost to Washington State. Later that season, USC, playing without Heisman candidate Rodney Peete (measles) defeated UCLA and Heisman candidate Troy Aikman 31-22. Peete, a co-host on Fox’s Best Damn Sports Show Period, remembers how the city was so into college football back then. “It was a great, great time,” he said. “The year before (in 1987) we met and the game decided who went to the Rose Bowl. I remember it being exciting because it built off the previous year. There was a lot of hype on USC and UCLA. You go back to the history of the two teams and see how often that game decided who was going to the Rose Bowl. “Even though I’m an ‘SC guy, I wanted UCLA to be undefeated and for that game to come down to who wins the Pac-10. The whole city gets behind it.” UCLA players won’t talk too much about the prospect of being unbeaten when they play USC on Dec. 3, but it’s hard to ignore the fact it has been 17 years since both schools have enjoyed such success. “It’d be a dream,” UCLA linebacker Justin London said. “But we’ll continue to let it be a dream until we make that happen.” Said USC linebacker Oscar Lua: “It’d be great. It would just extend the rivalry.” The schools have met with undefeated records three times – 1939, 1952 and 1969. Can you imagine a fourth? “Absolutely. As big as the city is, it’s a football city,” said Ken Norton Jr., USC’s linebackers coach and a former UCLA linebacker. “It’s great when both teams are doing well. There’s a lot of fans in this city and it’s split down the middle. It’s a great rivalry.” USC has done plenty to dissuade the theory that the best football is played in the South. This year’s success of UCLA, Cal and Arizona State has given West Coast football a measure of credibility. Carnell Lake, a former Bruin who played on the 1988 team and had a successful NFL career, will be an honorary captain Saturday at the Rose Bowl – his first time back since being inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2000. Lake lives with his family in Jacksonville and finds himself defending West Coast football “all the time.” “Being in the Southeast, everyone talks about Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Miami, Florida State and I constantly remind them when I was playing at UCLA we did very well against East Coast teams and Midwest teams,” he said. “The team that wins the national title brings a lot of attention. The Pac-10 has a number of teams in the top 20. There’s no question there’s a lot of attention there.” With the Trojans and Bruins on such a roll, is the NFL falling off the city’s radar? “It’s hard to tell what the market is like in Los Angeles now and what people want,” Dorrell said. “It’s all very good right now.” Los Angeles is 8-0. Very good indeed. Jill Painter, (818) 713-3615 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The team is undefeated and plays a nationally televised game against a top-10 team this afternoon. Its name isn’t USC. It’s UCLA.