L.A.'s greatest sports moments No. 6: The 1967 USC-UCLA game
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We asked you to send in your picks for the greatest sports moments in L.A. history, and 1,181 ballots later we are unveiling the top 20 vote-getters. Each weekday we will unveil a new moment until we reach No. 1.
No. 6: The 1967 USC-UCLA game (3,203 points)
In what many still consider the best game ever of the storied rivalry, USC defeated UCLA, 21-20, in 1967.
The game was for the championship of the AAWU (then informally known as the Pac-8), a berth in the Rose Bowl game, and the winner would also probably be the AP poll national champion. In 1967, the final AP poll came out before the bowl games.
UCLA opened the scoring when running back Greg Jones scored on a 12-yard run. After a USC punt, Bruins quarterback Gary Beban made a costly mistake. Beban faked a sideline pass to the right, then wheeled around and blindly threw a pass to the left flat intended for Jones. However, USC linebacker Pat Cashman read the play perfectly and intercepted the pass, returning it 55 yards for a touchdown.
In the second quarter, Trojans tailback O.J. Simpson scored on a 13-yard run, giving USC a 14-7 lead, which is where the score was at halftime.
In the third quarter, Beban, who was playing with badly bruised ribs, connected with George Farmer for a 53-yard touchdown pass play to tie the score. Twice the Bruins attempted field goals, twice USC blocked them.
Early in the fourth quarter, Beban threw a touchdown pass to Dave Nuttall, but the extra point attempt was blocked (all three blocks were by Bill Hayhoe). The missed extra point would prove crucial.
With 10:38 left in the game, USC had a third-and-seven from its own 36. Trojan quarterback Toby Page, seeing the Bruins in pass coverage, audibled a run play for Simpson. Simpson veered to the left sideline and then cut back to the middle to run 64 yards for a touchdown. Rikki Aldridge kicked the extra point, and the Trojans led, 21–20. And that’s how the game ended, as UCLA never seriously threatened again. USC won the national championship, Beban was named Heisman Trophy winner, the only Bruin to ever win the award.
USC went on to beat Indiana, 14-3, in the 1968 Rose Bowl.