Beating USC would be new experience for all but one at UCLA

Senior receiver Nelson Rosario can’t imagine leaving UCLA without one important memory: a victory over USC.

“We need to win,” Rosario said. “We haven’t beaten them since I have been here. That’s our main goal.”

The annual game has tilted heavily toward USC, with the Trojans winning 11 of the last 12. The only player on UCLA’s roster who has experienced a victory over USC is tackle Sean Sheller, a sixth-year senior who has been out since the second game because of a broken arm.

Sheller was a redshirt freshman in 2006 and part of the scout team that prepared the Bruins for their 13-9 upset of second-ranked USC.


“That was pretty fun,” Sheller said. “It is one of my favorite memories. It was my first year; nobody expected us to beat USC. Being on the scout team, I felt a part of that victory.”

Quarterback Kevin Prince, whose father is a UCLA graduate, has been going to USC-UCLA games since he was a kid and said, “I always had a dislike for USC and always had a dream to beat them.”

Coach Rick Neuheisel said he is reminding players that a victory over USC is “something everyone in this game will remember.”

As proof, Neuheisel offered up his senior year, when UCLA beat USC, 27-17, in 1983.

“We were down, 10-6, at halftime and found out that Washington had beaten Washington State, so we knew we could go to the Rose Bowl if we won,” Neuheisel said. “We scored three second-half touchdowns.

“I remember the fourth quarter, trying to stay on the field, bleeding the clock, churning out yards. That was something special.”

Franklin to the NFL?

Running back Johnathan Franklin is focused on Saturday’s game but also said he will look at whether to declare for the NFL draft after the season.

“I will definitely take it under consideration,” Franklin said. “I’ll put it in God’s hands.”

Franklin, a junior, has 857 yards rushing this season and 2,550 during his three-year career.

Title-game scenario

UCLA could already know its fate by the time the sun rises Saturday. If Utah loses to Colorado on Friday, the Bruins are in the Pac-12 Conference championship game as the South Division representative even if they lose to USC.

“We’re playing a game to win the division,” Neuheisel said. “We want to go in through the front door.”

UCLA would have the same 6-3 Pac-12 record as USC by beating the Trojans, but the Bruins would be considered South champions because of their win head to head.

“We don’t want to worry about the different scenarios,” cornerback Andrew Abbott said. “We just want to beat ‘SC.”