Thanks to the East Coast bias that definitely does exist in sports, the intra-city rivalry between the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans is often left out of the discussion of the greatest college football rivalries. Unlike most rivalries, these two schools share a city and are located just 12 miles apart. Since 1929, the Bruins and Trojans have been battling for Los Angeles bragging rights, creating plenty of memorable moments along the way. For those who are less familiar with this rivalry, here are some of the most defining football moments between UCLA and USC.
UCLA 48, USC 41 (double-overtime) (1996)
This was the first overtime game in this rivalry, and it became an instant classic. Despite having nothing to play for but pride, the Bruins rallied to erase a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
USC’s late collapse included a blocked field goal at the end of regulation that would have won the game for the Trojans. UCLA carried the momentum of that comeback and the blocked field goal in the extra session, ultimately prevailing 48-41.
UCLA 13, USC 9 (2006)
If you can’t win a championship, at least stop your rivals from winning one. That’s exactly what happened in 2006 when USC appeared to be one win away from playing for a national championship. The no. 2 Trojans looked like a safe bet to beat the Bruins, especially after scoring 66 points against UCLA the previous year.
But the UCLA defense used that game as motivation and kept the USC offense in check all day. With a little over a minute left, an interception by Eric McNeal sealed the 13-9 win for the Bruins that kept USC out of the BCS Championship Game.
USC 31, UCLA 22 (1988)
Historians have long-remembered this as “The Measles Game.” In the week before the game, USC quarterback Rodney Peele was hospitalized because of measles. Surely, he wouldn’t be able to play on Saturday, right?
However, Peete got out of the hospital in time to practice on Friday and play on Saturday. He also played well, leading the no. 2 Trojans past Troy Aikman and no. 6 UCLA.
UCLA 20, USC 19 (1982)
With a spot in the Rose Bowl on the line, this game came down to a two-point conversion. Despite UCLA leading most of the game, the Trojans scored a touchdown with literally no time left on the clock to make it 20-19. Rather than kick the PAT and tie the game, USC coach John Robinson attempted a two-point conversion for the win.
However, UCLA defensive tackle Karl Morgan burst through the line to sack quarterback Scott Tinsley, securing a one-point win and sending the Bruins to the Rose Bowl where they beat Michigan.
USC 21, UCLA 20 (1967)
No matter the rivalry, it doesn’t get much better than this. This game was dubbed the “Game of the Century” between no. 1 UCLA and no. 2 USC with a Rose Bowl bid going to the win. Tied at 14 early in the fourth quarter, UCLA appeared to seize control on a touchdown pass from Gary Began to Dave Nuttall. However, the PAT was blocked, giving the Bruins a six-point lead. Minutes later, USC backup quarterback Toby Page called an audible on 3rd and 7, switching from a pass to a run.
He handed off to O.J. Simpson, who took the ball 64 yards for a touchdown in what’s one of the most iconic touchdown runs in college football history. The Trojans kicked the PAT, held on for the win, and eventually beat Indiana in the Rose Bowl to take home the national championship.