UCLA vs. Oregon State: Five greatest games in rivalry history

UCLA wide receiver Mercedes Lewis catches a touchdown pass over Oregon State's Brandon Hughes and Sabby Piscitelli.
UCLA wide receiver Mercedes Lewis catches a touchdown pass over Oregon State cornerback Brandon Hughes and strong safety Sabby Piscitelli during the Bruins’ 51-28 victory in 2005.
(Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)
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With UCLA playing in its final season in the Pac-12, The Times is revisiting the top five games in the history of each series. This week: UCLA-Oregon State.

Nov. 4, 1967: Oregon State 16, No. 2 UCLA 16

UCLA quarterback Gary Beban runs with the ball against Missouri in October 1966.
(Walter Iooss Jr. / Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

They were called “Giant Killers” for a reason. After toppling No. 2 Purdue two weeks earlier, the Beavers hardly looked like 14-point underdogs against another second-ranked team.


Still, unbeaten UCLA had its chances late at the Coliseum. Going for it on fourth and goal from the 10-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, quarterback Gary Beban fired a pass into the end zone that was intercepted.

Then, with 11 seconds left, Zenon Andrusyshyn’s habit of low-flying field goals hurt the Bruins when his 37-yard attempt was blocked.

Beban went on to win the Heisman Trophy even after his team lost its last two games, including a 21-20 heartbreaker against USC. Oregon State slayed its final giant the following week with a 3-0 victory over No. 1 USC.

Nov. 7, 1998: No. 3 UCLA 41, Oregon State 34

UCLA's Cade McNown throws a pass against Texas in September 1998.
(Los Angeles Times)

Never make plans for overtime before you get there. That was the big takeaway after Oregon State coach Mike Riley conceded he had been on the headphones with offensive coordinator Paul Chryst talking about their plans for the extra period … just as UCLA quarterback Cade McNown was firing the go-ahead 61-yard touchdown pass to Brad Melsby with 21 seconds left.

That made it an especially bitter ending for Beavers quarterback (and current coach) Jonathan Smith, who had grown up a USC fan in Glendora and was on the verge of a possible upset of that team across town.


The dream died when Smith’s final pass was intercepted. This was the Bruins’ 18th consecutive victory on the way to completing their school-record streak of 20 in a row with a triumph over USC two weeks later.

Oct. 23, 1954: No. 3 UCLA 61, Oregon State 0

UCLA defeats Oregon State in 1954.

The Times headline told the story of the domination, calling them the “Point-a-Minute Bruins.”

What might have been even more impressive was that their scoring pace was actually down from the previous week, when they beat Stanford 72-0.

There was no beating UCLA on either side of the ball — or on the scoreboard — all season long, the Bruins on the way to their only unbeaten and untied season while claiming a share of the national championship alongside Ohio State.

The teams couldn’t settle the debate in the Rose Bowl because UCLA had been the previous year and was a victim of the dreaded no-repeat rule that forbade teams from playing in the game two years in a row.

The Buckeyes were crowned national champions by Associated Press and the Bruins by United Press International.

Sept. 16, 1949: UCLA 35, Oregon State 13

UCLA defeats Oregon State in 1949
(Los Angeles Times)

Most current UCLA players probably couldn’t tell you much about Henry “Red” Sanders besides his name being attached to the team’s most valuable player award, maybe adding that he coached sometime between the Civil War and the creation of TikTok.


Here’s another tidbit: The debut of the Bruins’ greatest football coach was a convincing victory over Oregon State at the Coliseum, which was notable because the Beavers had whipped UCLA 28-0 the previous year.

This one was all Bruins, a promising introduction to the former Vanderbilt coach who would guide UCLA to its only national championship in the sport (in 1954) in addition to two Rose Bowls before his death from an enlarged heart before the 1958 season.

Oct. 22, 2005: No. 8 UCLA 51, Oregon State 28

Oregon State quarterback Matt Moore, right, greets former teammate UCLA quarterback Drew Olson.
Oregon State quarterback Matt Moore, right, greets former teammate UCLA quarterback Drew Olson after the Bruins’ 51-28 win in 2005.
(Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

In a season of dramatic comebacks, Drew Olson made sure one wasn’t needed against the Beavers. The senior quarterback threw six touchdown passes, breaking the school record of five he had shared with Cade McNown, to help the Bruins enjoy a rare breather. (Olson’s record stands to this day.)

UCLA gave up an early touchdown before rolling to a 24-7 lead that was never seriously challenged. Maurice Drew hauled in two touchdown passes on the way to finishing with 250 all-purpose yards.

The victory helped UCLA improve to 7-0 on the way to its first 8-0 start since 1998. But the fun parallels between those teams ended with a stunning 52-14 loss to Arizona in Tucson on Nov. 12.