This year’s showdown between USC and UCLA has the added dramatics of being for the Pac-12 South title. And to the winner comes a date against Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game. But drama has followed this rivalry long before Pac-12 expansion. Since 1938, the teams have met 37 times where the Rose Bowl was on the line for one or both teams.
Here’s a look back at 10 memorable moments from the series. This is not a definitive list, mind you. There are too many great moments to narrow it down to just 10. But it should serve as a good “oh yeah” reminder, presented chronologically for your dissection:
1967: In one of the most iconic runs in college football, O.J. Simpson’s 64-yard touchdown run gave the Trojans a 21-20 win over UCLA that locked up a Rose Bowl berth and an eventual national championship.
1977: The Bruins were headed to the Rose Bowl. That is, until Frank Jordan kicked a 38-yard field goal with two seconds left to give USC a 29-27 win.
1982: USC’s Scott Tinsley had just connected with third-string tight end Mark Boyer with zero time on the clock to cut UCLA’s lead to 20-19. All that was left was the two-point conversion. But UCLA’s Karl Morgan sacked Tinsley to preserve the win. Ironically enough, by today’s standards, Morgan might have been flagged for a high tackle on the quarterback. You decide (at the 9:15 mark, but watch the whole thing).
1985: Sneeky Peetey for the win. With 1:13 left in the game, USC quarterback Rodney Peete scored on a 1-yard sneak to give the Trojans a 17-13 win.
1989: It hit the crossbar! UCLA’s Alfredo Velasco put everything into a 54-yard attempt with two seconds left to play and the teams tied at 10-10. But his kick hit the crossbar, bounced up, and then fell into the end zone to preserve the tie. The Bruins, 17-point underdogs, forced six turnovers. UCLA finished the season 3-7-1.
1990: In one of the highest-scoring and most thrilling contests between the schools, Todd Marinovich connected with Johnnie Morton with 16 seconds left to propel USC to a 45-42 win. The fourth quarter alone featured 42 points and four lead changes, including three touchdowns in the final 3:09. (See here at the three-minute mark). It was the last time the Trojans would beat UCLA until 1999.
1992: UCLA overcame a 31-17 fourth-quarter deficit to take a 38-31 lead (which included a 90-yard touchdown pass from John Barnes to J.J. Stokes, at the four-minute mark). But with 41 seconds left, USC scored on a 1-yard Rob Johnson sneak. Then UCLA’s Nkosi Littleton knocked down the two-point conversion attempt to salvage a 38-37 win for UCLA.
1993: A win or a tie would have sent USC to the Rose Bowl. And with the Trojans driving in the final minute to erase a 27-21 deficit, it looked like that would happen. Marvin Goodwin had other plans. Goodwin intercepted Rob Johnson’s 3-yard pass to Tyler Cashman in the end zone to lock up the win for UCLA.
1996: Believe it or not, these teams have only gone to overtime once. The Bruins erased a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime, where Skip Hicks ran for the 25-yard touchdown before Anthony Cobbs had the game-clinching interception on fourth down to give the Bruins a 48-41 win.
2000: After missing a 24-yard field goal earlier in the game, David Bell hit a 36-yard kick with nine seconds left in the game to give the Trojans a 38-35 win. Bell started the year as USC’s third-string kicker and had just six career attempts prior to the winner.