The five consecutive victories by UCLA in the 65-year-old series with USC isn’t the only active Bruin streak in the series.
The Bruins have also won the last three games when both schools came into the game with sub-par seasons, which will be the case Saturday at the Rose Bowl, when USC will be 5-5, UCLA 4-6.
Saturday’s game will be the 13th since World War II when both teams entered the annual cross-town clash with three or more losses.
Since 1946, UCLA has won the last three, the games of 1993, 1991 and 1983. UCLA leads in the series in matchups of teams with three losses, 6-4. There have been two ties.
Much has been written and said about UCLA-USC games when the Rose Bowl was on the line. USC leads, 15-6-1, when it was at stake for both teams. When it’s meant a Rose Bowl bid for USC only, USC leads 7-4-1. When the game meant Roses for UCLA only, it’s a tie, 4-4.
For one or both teams: USC, 21-11-2.
But what about those years when partisans of both were at least a bit disappointed with the table for the big November banquet being set with multiple losses?
Here, too, USC--loser of every game in the series since 1991--is overdue for a break. The Trojans haven’t won one of these games since 1977.
1991: UCLA 24, USC 21
USC (3-7) finished with six consecutive losses, ensuring its worst season in 35 years, 3-8. UCLA (7-3), on the strength of a controversial officials’ call in the second quarter, ended a four-year winless streak against USC.
The difference: A first-quarter UCLA drive to USC’s one, where Maury Toy plunged into the line . . . and fumbled. After an interminable delay while officials peeled away players, looking for the ball, they found it in the grasp of UCLA’s Brian Allen in the end zone.
Aftermath: UCLA moved on to the Sun Bowl, where the Bruins defeated Illinois, 6-3.
1983: UCLA 27, USC 17
Trailing, 10-6, at halftime, UCLA (5-4-1) learned Washington State was defeating Washington, and a victory by the Cougars would put the Bruins in the Rose Bowl if they could overcome USC (4-5-1).
UCLA went 80 yards in 11 plays with its first third-quarter possession to take a lead it never relinquished. Rick Neuheisel, a fifth-year walk-on quarterback, completed 13 of 19 passes on a day when UCLA was out-rushed by USC.
Aftermath: UCLA went on to beat Illinois in the Rose Bowl, 45-9. It was USC’s first losing season in 22 years.
1977: USC 29, UCLA 27
A pass interference penalty against UCLA (7-3) resuscitate a dying drive by USC (6-4), enabling Trojan Frank Jordan to kick a chip-shot field goal with two seconds left.
The penalty was a third-and-10 call on UCLA safety Johnny Lynn, which set up USC at UCLA’s 40 on the final drive.
Aftermath: USC defeated Texas A&M; in the Bluebonnet Bowl, 20-17. UCLA, tagged with an NCAA recruiting violations penalty, later had to forfeit its seven victories.
1971: USC 7, UCLA 7
If you were compiling a ranking of the most rank games of the series, this one would be candidate for No. 1. In a dull, defense-dominated game in which neither team gained 300 yards, UCLA’s Marvin Kendricks scored a seven-yard touchdown in the third quarter to get the tie.
USC (6-4) came no closer to a score than the 31 of UCLA (2-7) after halftime.
1970: UCLA 45, USC 20
In Tommy Prothro’s final season, the Bruins (5-4) were coming off a 61-20 blowout by Washington. USC (5-3-1), plagued all year by inconsistent performances, was buried by what was arguably UCLA quarterback Dennis Dummitt’s greatest game.
Dummitt had three touchdown passes in the first half, when UCLA raced to a 38-14 lead.
Aftermath: USC, having lost three of its last four, turned it around and beat Notre Dame the following Saturday, 38-28.
1964: USC 34, UCLA 13
Craig Fertig passed for three touchdowns and Mike Garrett ran for 180 yards as USC (5-3) handed UCLA (4-5) its worst beating in the series in 20 years.
Most UCLA players agreed afterward the turning point was a third-quarter interception by USC’s Nate Shaw of a Larry Zeno pass. USC had a 14-7 lead at the time but Shaw’s play set up a Fertig-to-Rod Sherman 49-yard touchdown pass play for a 21-7 lead.
Aftermath: USC went on to arguably its greatest victory ever, the 20-17 upset of unbeaten Notre Dame the following Saturday at the Coliseum. Again, a Fertig-to-Sherman play won it. UCLA coach Bill Barnes resigned, ending his seven-year stint at 31-34-3.
1963: USC 26, UCLA 6
The game was originally to have been played Nov. 23, 1963--the day after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The schools’ administrators conferred the afternoon of the assassination and agreed to move the game back one week.
“If we’re a good team, the delay shouldn’t hurt us,” said Coach John McKay of USC (6-3).
He was right. Mike Garrett supplied the big play--a 46-yard run to set up a Willie Brown touchdown and a 20-6 lead over UCLA (2-7).
Aftermath: UCLA’s finish, 2-8, remains its worst of the post-war period.
1961: UCLA 10, USC 7
This one can also be called the Monsoon Bowl. Nevertheless, 57,850 sat through a steady rain--and at times a downpour--to watch UCLA’s tailback, Bobby Smith, score all the points and set a one-season scoring record for UCLA (6-3).
USC (4-4-1) had a 7-3 halftime lead but Smith’s six-yard slide in the mud into the end zone in the third quarter was the difference.
Aftermath: UCLA lost to Minnesota in the Rose Bowl, 21-3.
1958: UCLA 15, USC 15
The two-point conversion, in its first season in 1958, was invented in part to help prevent ties. But it wasn’t much help in avoiding one in this one.
After grabbing an 8-7 lead in the third quarter, UCLA (3-6) deliberately kicked off short to keep the ball out of the hands of scatback Don Buford of USC (4-4).
Unfortunately for the Bruins, they kicked it to Luther Hayes. He brought it back 74 yards for a touchdown. After UCLA sent Bill Kilmer into the end zone on a sweep for one two-pointer, Tom Maudlin got a deuce for the Trojans after Hayes’ runback for the tie.
1950: UCLA 39, USC 0
UCLA (5-3) was a big favorite and played like one. USC (1-4-2) would beat Notre Dame the following week in Jeff Cravath’s last game as Trojan coach, but the Trojans were no match for an inspired UCLA team.
LaVon Hansen, wife of UCLA wingback Howard Hansen, died two days before the game. Coach Red Sanders asked Hansen if he wanted to play . . . and was told yes. He gained 61 yards on a day his teammates vowed to “Win one for Howie.”
Aftermath: USC beat Notre Dame the following Saturday, 9-7, but it wasn’t enough to save Cravath, who was replaced by Jess Hill.
1948: USC 20, UCLA 13
In the first UCLA-USC game to be televised, UCLA (3-6) had lost five of its previous six. Defense-minded USC (5-3) wasn’t expected to have much difficulty, but the Trojans needed every weapon in what turned out to be one of the most exciting matchups of the series.
UCLA quarterback Ray Nagel, on a day he broke Bob Waterfield’s school one-season completion record, drove the Bruins 75 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown that produced the final score, but never got the ball back.
Aftermath: UCLA coach Bert LaBrucherie was replaced by Red Sanders, who in 1954 led the Bruins to their only national championship.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
UCLA vs. USC
* Site: Rose Bowl, 12:30 p.m.
* TV: Channel 7
* Radio: KLSX-FM (97.1), XTRA (690)