Give the UCLA Bruins an early leg up on crosstown rival the USC Trojans, thanks to the sort of football win that could spur ticket sales, merchandise and sponsorships. The opening-week thriller could even be a factor in the Heisman Trophy race – the annual award for college football’s best player – which could lead back to sales of tickets, merchandise and sponsorships.

Both schools could use some help on ticket sales, by the way.

Consider that the Bruins’ Sunday-afternoon game drew 64,635 to fill 71 percent of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for what turned out to be a historic 45-44 comeback victory over Texas A&M on Sept. 3. Texas A&M drew more than 100,000 to its home stadium in College Station when it hosted UCLA last year.

The nationally ranked Trojans drew 61,125 to South L.A.’s Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – 65 percent capacity – for an opening-week win over Western Michigan that was pedestrian at best and worrisome at times.

Expect both to draw bigger crowds as the season goes on – especially since UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen may have inserted himself in the Heisman conversation with a charmed second-half performance to engineer a 31-point comeback.

Both UCLA and USC have a chance to make the Heisman race a centerpiece of marketing for their respective football programs – USC quarterback Sam Darnold is also on most experts’ short list for the annual award. And both schools stand to get more than twice as much bang for their bucks if Darnold and Rosen remain in the hunt for the hardware, adding the chance for a “Hollywood-couldn’t-make-this-up” aspect to the schools’ slated standoff on Nov. 18, hosted by USC at the Coliseum.

Wasserman’s Day Job

Casey Wasserman has no doubt put his time in on L.A.’s bid for the Olympic Games – the entertainment marketing executive and civic leader serves as chair of L.A. 2028, which looks to have put the city in line for the 2028 games.

His time spent lobbying for the bid didn’t mean the sports desk at his Wasserman Media Group in Westwood suffered.

The firm ranked ninth in terms of representation of the recent class of National Basketball Association free agents, with a total value of $134.9 million in contracts negotiated on behalf of 11 players. Kelly Olynyk’s four-year, $50 million deal with the Miami Heat was the largest on the Wasserman roster.

The firm’s number of deals ranked second in the industry, trailing only Beverly Hills’ Excel Sports Management, which handled 13 negotiations, including the five-year, $173 million-year pact Blake Griffin signed to stay with the Los Angeles Clippers.

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