Beyond City Limits

Times Staff Writer

As second-ranked USC prepares for UCLA -- and a possible run at its first national title in 25 years -- the Trojans can point to history.

Five of the Trojans' eight national championship seasons included victories over the Bruins. The schools did not play during USC's title runs in 1928, 1931 and 1932.

USC and UCLA played each other for the first time in 1929 and again in 1930, but the series was suspended until 1936, probably because USC won the first game, 76-0, and the second, 52-0.

UCLA derailed unbeaten USC in 1959, but the Bruins could not stop Trojan teams from finishing with national titles in 1962, 1967, 1972, 1974 and 1978.

The games featured some of the most dynamic players and compelling situations in the history of a rivalry whose 73rd game will be played Saturday at the Coliseum.

"No matter how long you live, no matter how far you travel or what you do in life, this game always comes back to you," Ron Yary, the 1967 Outland Trophy winner from USC, said Tuesday.

Here is a look at the USC-UCLA games that sent the Trojans on their way to a national title:

NOV. 24, 1962

No. 1 USC 14, UCLA 3

Attendance: 86,740

Led by quarterback Pete Beathard, running back Willie Brown, end Hal Bedsole and lineman Damon Bame, USC took an 8-0 record into the game, having defeated a Navy team led by Roger Staubach the previous week.

Looking back, Bedsole described the matchup against the Bruins and star halfback Kermit Alexander as a "gateway" game for USC.

"Up until that game, I don't think anyone really believed we could go undefeated and play for the national championship," Bedsole said.

Larry Zeno's 35-yard field goal in the second quarter gave UCLA a 3-0 lead at halftime.

USC, a 14 1/2-point favorite, then blew several scoring opportunities, one late in the third quarter when running back Ben Wilson was stopped short on fourth and goal from the three-yard line.

Early in the fourth quarter, however, Brown made the play of the game.

On fourth and eight from the UCLA 24, Brown -- USC's first I-formation tailback -- lined up at flanker and ran a post route. Quarterback Bill Nelsen lofted a pass toward the end zone and Brown made a spectacular leaping catch at the two, setting up a two-yard touchdown run by Wilson.

Beathard scored on a one-yard run with 33 seconds left to seal the victory.

"The play before I made that catch, I came back to the huddle and told them, 'I can beat this guy. Throw it over the middle and I'll be there,' " recalled Brown, a former USC assistant and successful restaurateur who maintains his Trojan connection as an academic monitor. "Somebody has to step up and make plays."

According to Times columnist Sid Ziff, the only negative on an otherwise glorious day for both schools was the behavior of UCLA's card section, which spelled out "We can't buy our diplomas."

USC defeated Notre Dame in the regular-season finale, 25-0, then beat No. 2 Wisconsin, 42-37, in a wild game in the Rose Bowl, winning the first of Coach John McKay's four national titles.


NOV. 18, 1967

No. 4 USC 21, No. 1 UCLA 20

Attendance: 90,772

The only things riding on the outcome of this game were the Rose Bowl berth, a probable national title and the Heisman Trophy.

As Times sports editor Paul Zimmerman opined in his game advance: "Never in the history of college football have two teams approached the climax of a season with so much at stake."

Despite being ranked behind UCLA, USC was a three-point favorite. The Trojans featured junior running back O.J. Simpson. Quarterback Gary Beban led the Bruins.

UCLA took the lead on Greg Jones' 12-yard run in the first quarter, but USC tied the score on Pat Cashman's 55-yard interception return for a touchdown.

A 52-yard on a reverse by Trojan flanker Earl McCullouch set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Simpson for a 14-7 lead that the Trojans took into halftime.

Beban connected with George Farmer for 53 yards and a touchdown with two minutes left in third quarter, tying the score, then Beban's 20-yard touchdown pass to Dave Nuttall in the fourth quarter put UCLA ahead, 20-14.

But UCLA kicker Zenon Andrusyshyn, who had missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt and had two others blocked, pushed the conversion kick wide, leaving the Bruins with a tenuous six-point lead.

UCLA Coach Tommy Prothro had instructed his players to help Simpson get up after he'd carried the ball so he could not rest on the ground. But with about 10:30 left, Simpson showed he still had plenty in reserve.

With the ball at the Trojans' 36, USC quarterback Toby Page called an audible, changing a pass play to a run. Simpson took a handoff to the weakside and fullback Danny Scott and center Dick Allmon blocked All-American linebacker Don Manning.

"I ran into O.J. and bumped him to the outside," said Allmon, the president of an industrial warehousing company in Los Angeles. "Then I took off downfield, and he cuts back and here I am about to knock him down again."

Simpson, though, weaved his way 64 yards to a touchdown on a play regarded as one of the most legendary in college football. He finished with 177 yards in 30 carries.

"I knew he was tired at the end of that run," said McCullouch, who works for Federal Express and coaches high school track in Long Beach. "I said, 'Follow me, I'll get you there.' ... All I did was kind of convoy him in."

Rikki Aldridge kicked the extra point that stood up for a 21-20 victory.

Beban, who would win the Heisman Trophy, passed for 301 yards, even though he was forced to the sideline three times because of bruised ribs.

"That game never goes away -- not because of the loss," said Beban, who lives near Chicago and is managing director of corporate services for CB/Richard Ellis. "To be able to play for as many things as you could play for in college football, you should be happy for that."

The Trojans happily moved up to No. 1 after beating the Bruins and defeated No. 4 Indiana in the Rose Bowl, 14-3.


NOV. 18, 1972

No. 1 USC 24, No. 14 UCLA 7

Attendance: 82,929

USC's 1972 team is regarded by many as the greatest in Trojan history.

But USC players did not think that way before the season began.

"We were probably a little more naive than most teams would be because my sophomore and junior years, we were 6-4-1," recalled Mike Rae, who started at quarterback in 1972 and doubled as the kicker. "Before that, USC had been to four Rose Bowls in a row. So here we have the O.J. Simpsons and the Mike Garretts and all the excitement

By the time USC played UCLA with the Rose Bowl on the line, the Trojans had a 10-0 record and were 13-point favorites over Coach Pepper Rodgers' Bruins, who had ended Nebraska's 32-game winning streak in the season opener.

UCLA, led by "Blair Pair" running backs James McAlister and Kermit Johnson, was averaging 361 rushing yards in a wishbone offense run by quarterback Mark Harmon.

"We were confident but we didn't feel like we had gotten any respect," recalled Johnson, a senior fire inspector for the city of Pasadena. "We thought, 'If we could knock off USC, maybe we can get respect.' "

USC took a 10-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal by Rae and a 23-yard touchdown run by sophomore tailback Anthony Davis, who finished with 178 yards in 25 carries. UCLA scored its only points on a two-yard touchdown run by McAlister at the end of the first quarter, but the Trojans, who led the nation in rushing defense, shut down UCLA the rest of the way.

UCLA finished with 198 rushing yards, 163 below its average.

"They didn't just have second effort, they had continuous effort," Johnson said of the Trojan defense. "They were all around you, there was no room for any error.

"They either had a hand on your foot, a hand on your jersey -- you just didn't have any good, clear opening. It wasn't that they were really physical, they were just quick."

USC finished the regular season with a 45-23 win over 10th-ranked Notre Dame and clinched the national championship with a 42-17 victory over third-ranked Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.


NOV. 23, 1974

No. 8 USC 34, UCLA 9

Attendance: 82,467

The Trojans, who'd lost to Arkansas in their opener and were tied by California, began the game as 15-point favorites over Coach Dick Vermeil's UCLA team, which was without quarterback John Sciarra and running back Wendell Tyler, both out with injuries.

"We knew they were good, but they did not have the talent they had in 1972," recalled Davis, a real estate developer. "We knew if we played our game we would beat them."

Davis rushed for 195 yards in 31 carries and scored a touchdown en route to breaking Simpson's Pacific 8 Conference rushing record.

Trojan quarterback Pat Haden scored on an eight-yard run in the first quarter and connected with receiver J.K. McKay on a spectacular 17-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter for a 17-3 lead.

Fulton Kuykendall, a defensive lineman for the Bruins from 1972 to '74, said Haden and McKay's background as high school teammates at La Puente Bishop Amat served them well at USC.

"It was like they each knew what the other would do," said Kuykendall, a cardiovascular technician in Georgia.

Chris Limahelu kicked field goals from 20 and 50 yards and safety Dennis Thurman returned a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown as the Trojans cruised to victory.

"One of the nicest things that happened to [UCLA] was the scoreboard blackout in the fourth quarter. USC was ahead then, 27-9," wrote Times reporter Ted Green. "Nice, that is, until the public address announcer said, "The scoreboard is inoperative," and a USC cheerleader grabbed a microphone and replied, "So's UCLA."

The victory moved the Trojans up to No. 6 and set the stage for USC's legendary 55-24 comeback victory over fifth-ranked Notre Dame the following week.

The No. 5 Trojans then beat third-ranked Ohio State, 18-17, in the Rose Bowl and finished first in the UPI coaches' poll when Notre Dame defeated top-ranked Alabama.

Oklahoma finished No. 1 in Associated Press' writers' poll, but the Sooners were not recognized in the coaches' poll because they were on probation for recruiting violations.

"It turns out that things absolutely fell into place," said Haden, a Los Angeles businessman who also works as a television analyst. "It was one of those miraculous things you can't count on."


NOV. 18, 1978

No. 5 USC 17, No. 14 UCLA 10

Attendance: 90,387

USC, under third-year Coach John Robinson, lost to Arizona State in its fifth game, but the Trojans were seven-point favorites and quietly confident as they approached the first of their last three regular-season games.

"The national championship thing was always on our minds back then because the Trojans had won enough of them to say, 'Hey, this is where we're aiming. This is where we want to go,' " said Paul McDonald, who started at quarterback.

USC, which had outscored opponents, 103-6, in the second quarter, took a 17-0 halftime lead on a first-quarter field goal by Frank Jordan and second-quarter touchdown passes from McDonald to receivers Calvin Sweeney and Kevin Williams.

As running back Theotis Brown struggled, bothered by a pinched nerve in his neck, UCLA cut the deficit to seven points on Pete Boermeester's 22-yard field goal and an 81-yard touchdown pass play from quarterback Rick Bashore to Severn Reece with 5:10 left in the game.

But USC all but sealed the victory with 1:11 left when junior tailback Charles White ran for 11 yards on third and six from the USC 47. The run moved White ahead of Davis at the top of the Pacific 10 Conference's all-time rushing list. He finished the game with 145 yards in 33 carries.

"We didn't dominate them by any stretch of the imagination," recalled McDonald, who works in commercial finance and does radio commentary for USC broadcasts.

The Trojans moved up to No. 3 after the victory. They beat eighth-ranked Notre Dame, 27-25, and Hawaii, 21-5, before defeating No. 5 Michigan in the Rose Bowl, 17-10.




The five years that UCLA failed to derail USC's drive to a national title:

1962: USC 14, UCLA 3

Willie Brown's fourth-down catch leads to game-clinching score.

1967: USC 21, UCLA 20

O.J. Simpson's winding touchdown run knocks off top-ranked Bruins.

1972: USC 24, UCLA 7

Top-ranked Trojans throttle Bruins' running game.

1974: USC 34, UCLA 9

Anthony Davis rushes for 195 yards, breaks Simpson's league career record.

1978: USC 17, UCLA 10

Charles White rushes for 145 years, breaks Davis' league career record.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World