Tomorrow, Saturday November 28, 2009 the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will play host to the 78th gridiron matchup between the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Los Angeles. For the players, coaches, fans, alumni, and the people of the greater Los Angeles area, this is more than just a game, this is THE GAME that determines bragging rights for the next 364 days. This is a game that divides workplaces, families, friends, and much more. USC leads the all time series 42-28-7, and have won the past two meetings, and 9 of the last 10. Past games have determined the Rose Bowl and National Championship hopes for one or both teams. Those of you who are old enough to remember, will never forget the classic 1967 matchup, where the teams came into the game ranked #1 and #2, and O.J. Simpson led the Men of Troy to a 21-20 victory, and a National Championship. Should have won the Heisman too that day, but obviously the voters missed the game.
This year both teams have struggled, with the 7-3 Trojans in rebuilding mode especially on defense, and having had their worst season since 2001, including two embarrassing blowout losses to Stanford and Oregon, while the 6-5 Bruins suffered a miserable 5 game losing streak to start Pac 10 play, but have rebounded nicely to win three straight games. With both teams out of the Rose Bowl race, and also having already secured bowl eligibility, the game technically means nothing, but don't tell that to anybody associated with the game. This is the game that can save a season, maintain/restore control of the city, and go a long way in winning local recruiting battles. This will be my 6th USC-UCLA game attended (4-1), and I will cherish this one just as much as all the others. Can't wait for kickoff, so without further adoo, the 5 greatest wins for each side for as long as I can remember.
Top 5 Trojan Victories Since 1991
#5- 2008. USC 28-7. The Trojans offense was sluggish at times, but the defense was absolutely dominating, surrendering their lone touchdown off a turnover within their own 20. One of the best defenses in the history of college football (4 count 'em 4 linebackers from that team...Clay Matthews, Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, and Kaluka Maiava are now starting as rookies in the NFL, with Cushing in line for Defensive Rookie of the year). USC clinches another Pac-10 Championship, 11-1 season, and Rose Bowl berth.
#4- 2003. USC 47-22. Mike Williams was a man among boys that day. What could have been, had he stayed another year? He absolutely shredded the Bruins secondary all day, the Trojan defense was dominant until garbage time, and the Trojans paved their way to a National Championship.
#3- 2005. USC 66-19. This one was for all the marbles: the Pac-10 title, bragging rights, and for the Trojans, a National Championship date with Texas. The Bruins had a top 10 team, and only one loss coming into the game, but were no match for Reggie Bush who won himself a Heisman that glorious day in the Coliseum.
#2- 2001. USC 27-0. The one that changed it all. Trojan football had been down for a long time, while the Bruins had owned the town, but in Pete Carroll's first game in the rivalry, SC dominated including a spectacular INT return for a TD by Antuan Simmons. Trojan football was BACK and would dominate the Bruins and the Pac-10 for the next decade.
#1- 1999. USC 17-7. The Streak is OVER! After 8 long suffering years, the Trojans finally beat the Bruins. The game itself was quite possibly the worst played, sloppiest football games I have ever seen, marred by penalties, turnovers, and just bad bad football, but as a lifelong Trojan fan who had never seen a win over the Bruins (started watching in '91-'92 when the streak started) this was a game that I will never forget.
TOP 5 Bruin Victories Since 1991
#5- 1998. UCLA 34-17. One of the best Bruin teams ever led by Cade McNown, Skip Hicks, and Ryan Nece (can't remember if he was good, just that I hated him), the undefeated Bruins soundly beat the Trojans in the Coliseum, and continued a National Title quest that was cut short by Edgerrin James and the Hurricanes.
#4- 1996. UCLA 48-41 2OT. Both teams sucked, and all that SC had to do was take a knee up by 3 with just a couple minutes left in the game. Instead, John Robinson decided to run the ball, which they of course fumbled, UCLA marched down the field tied it, and won it in double OT. One of the more painful losses for this Trojan fan.
#3- 1992. UCLA 38-37. Walk-on 65th string QB John Barnes started for the Bruins due to total decimation of their Quarterback depth chart, and went crazy hooking up with J.J. Stokes all day long. USC still had a chance (this was before OT, when ties still happened) and attempted a GW 2 pt. conversion attempt with a few seconds left in the game, but Rob Johnson's pass fell just out of his receiver's reach.
#2- 1993. UCLA 27-21. It was simple USC had first and goal from UCLA's 2 yard line, with under a minute left, down by 6, with the winner of the game going to the Rose Bowl. After getting absolutely stuffed on 2 running plays, the Bruins intercepted Rob Johnson on i think it was 3rd down (sorry memory is a bit convoluted) to secure the win.
#1- 2006. UCLA 13-9. Quite simply cost the Trojans a chance to play Ohio. St. for the National Championship. The Bruins defensive line dominated the Trojans up front, hassling John David Booty all day, and while the Trojans defense met them every step of the way, a Bruin red zone interception with under 2 minutes remaining sealed the biggest upset of the year.