LOS ANGELES -- Wes Horton's father, Myke, went to UCLA, played on the football team there and raised his sons to be Bruins fans.
But Wes Horton is not a Bruins fan anymore. The fifth-year senior is a key piece of USC's defensive line as the Trojans' most dependable, longest-tenured defensive end, and he feels comfortable saying now that he does not like his father's university.
That's why Saturday's game means so much to Horton, especially since it's the final time he'll play against UCLA. He's never lost to the Bruins, and he doesn't plan on doing so this year.
"We don't want to hear UCLA walking around in their baby blue and gold talking about how they beat the Trojans," Horton said after the Trojans practiced Wednesday. "Over the years, we get after UCLA. That's the standard that we hold to here.
"We're not gonna be this year's team that gets beat by UCLA, because we know we're capable of beating them when we put it all together."
Horton understands his coaches' need to repeat the one-game-at-a-time mantra heading into this weekend's game. But he also understands what non-coaches make of the UCLA game every year -- which is to say, they treat it like more than just another game.
"I've been here five years -- I know what it's all about," Horton said. "I know all the old-timers, all the alumni, all the Hall of Famers, they're all gonna be watching this game and watching how we handle a good UCLA team this year."
Horton said the Trojans can't make the same "little stupid mistakes" they've made in recent losses to Oregon and Arizona. Instead, he said, they have to carry over the way they played against Arizona State last week.
"We can't take these guys lightly," Horton said of UCLA. "In years past I think they've been good but not great, but this year they've got a great quarterback, a good offense and it's gonna be a war."
Horton is one of only five redshirt seniors with the program in 2008 who play for the Trojans in 2012. For that reason, he said, it's his job to educate some of the "younger guys" who "don't really understand the significance of this rivalry."
In other words, he has to teach them that every game USC plays against the Bruins won't be as easy as the 50-0 blowout in 2011.
"They've seen us really get after UCLA, and haven't really seen the UCLA that we've seen in the past, with USC and UCLA just battling, game in and game out," Horton said. "But this team's no joke."