Barkley going for the clean sweep

Matt Barkley / Getty Images

No. 21 USC (7-3, 5-3) is working to keep its emotions level as preparation continues for crosstown rival No. 17 UCLA (8-2, 5-2). Barkley says he's preparing the same as he has all season but can't deny it would be a big deal to make it a career sweep of the Bruins.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- "I'm treating it like any other game because you have to prepare they same way for every team," said USC quarterback Matt Barkley after practice this week, as the Trojans prepare to take on crosstown rival UCLA.

It's been Barkley's most consistent phrase all year and he stuck to it this week despite the undeniable significance of Saturday's game.

The winner not only earns prestigious bragging rights within L.A., but will also clinch the Pac-12 South Division and the right to play in the Pac-12 Championship game on November 30th.

"It's good that it's a relevant game for two years in a row," USC Coach Lane Kiffin said of the matchup, "and that's the way it should be."

Because of USC's two-year bowl ban, it's nearly a forgotten fact of last year's game that it was indeed for first place in the Pac-12 South.

Not forgotten, however, is the 50-0 margin of the Trojans' win. It's a mark this year's USC team is trying to put out of their head.

"I think years are totally irrelevant to the next year," Kiffin explained.

"They're a much improved team from last year," Barkley said. "They're an entirely different team, new coaching staff, new schemes, and so it's going to be a great matchup."

UCLA (8-2, 5-2) enters Saturday's contest as the AP's 17th ranked team, the first time since 2001 the Bruins have entered the rivalry game ranked higher than the Trojans (7-3, 5-3) who sit at No. 21 in the latest poll.

Though his preparation for the Bruins remains the same as it has his last ten games, Barkley admits it would be a proud accomplishment to graduate from USC after a career sweep of the Bruins, "I think it would be important to me," he said, "something I'll carry with me for years after this."

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