Game 7 heaven

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While the water-cooler talk in the USC football office this morning is all about L.A.'s one-win-from-the-title basketball team, Jeremy Bates is infusing a little Stanley Cup into the conversation.

With the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins set for the decisive Game 7 today (5 p.m. on NBC), the quarterbacks coach is sharing his excitement for tonight's championship battle.

"I love hockey," Bates said giddily.

Bates spent a few years in hockey-hungry regions of the country as a kid while moving around with his dad Jim, who has a 37-year history as a football coach. Bates learned to play hockey during the family's two years in Rochester, N.Y., and a season in Detroit, where Jim coached the city's now-defunct arena football team. The arena squad played in the Red Wings' Joe Louis Arena, giving Bates several opportunities to skate on the famed ice.

And if you didn't know who he was rooting for in tonight's Stanley Cup final, Bates has a few words for you.

"Hockeytown," he said. "And an octopus too."

The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins face off tonight at Joe Louis Arena in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, and the Red Wings have a fervent supporter in USC quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates.

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