SPORTS: UCLA Outlasts USC in 88th Meeting Between Bruins & Trojans

Illustration by Andrew Khanian

Illustration by Andrew Khanian

Behind 289 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries from redshirt junior running back Joshua Kelley, UCLA (3-8 overall) used a dominant fourth quarter to dismantle USC (5-6 overall), 34-27. “We have playmakers around me and a great offensive line,” Kelley said. He added, “we can for sure build off of this.”

Michigan transfer Wilton Speight tossed for 166 yards and one touchdown. “(This game) just had a different vibe than any other game we’ve had this season,” Speight said. Junior wide receiver Junior wide receiver Theo Howard caught five passes for 76 yards and one touchdown. Tight end Caleb Wilson, who played for USC throughout his redshirt freshman season in 2015, added 63 yards on four receptions. USC true freshman quarterback JT Daniels completed 20 of his 34 passing attempts, collected 337 yards and scored two touchdowns. Junior wide out Michael Pittman Jr. led the Trojans receiving core with 106 yards and seven catches.

Over 57,000 fans attended the Rose Bowl to watch the 88th all time meeting between USC and UCLA. A crosstown rivalry that dates back to 1929, the game’s importance was present in the mind of each player. “With there being a lot of USC fans too, it kind of felt like a neutral sight a little bit which made things even more interesting,” Speight said. Kelley added, “It was crazy, you know, playing (USC). This was I game I’ve watched since I was eight years old and I was finally out there. It was a crazy experience. I loved it, the atmosphere was amazing and that’s what bigtime college football is about.”

Entering Saturday (November 17th) afternoon’s rivalry battle, the teams had a combined 13 losses. Those 13 defeats were the most entering any USC-UCLA matchup. UCLA improved their historical record against the Trojans to 32-47-1. That record excludes USC victories in 2004 and 2005, which were vacated due to NCAA penalties. Despite the loss, USC has still emerged victorious in 15 of the last 20 Trojan-Bruin contests (dating back to 1999). Both USC (cardinal and gold) and UCLA (blue and gold) sport their home jerseys for the big game each season, an old tradition that returned starting with 2008’s battle for Los Angeles.

UCLA recaptures the Victory Bell, an annual prize awarded to the winner. The Victory Bell, a 295-pound bell that originated from a Southern Pacific freight locomotive, was first given to the UCLA Alumni Association in 1939. USC students took possession of the bell in 1941, which led to the student body presidents of each school signing a written agreement, one year later. The agreement stated the winner of each year’s football game would keep the bell for one whole year, until the following season’s battle.

Another common tradition of each school is to throw a pregame bonfire. In an open letter to the USC and UCLA communities this past Thursday (November 15), USC Vice President for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry and UCLA Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Monroe Gorden Jr. announced neither school would rally with their traditional pregame bonfires. “Out of respect for the tragedies so many California families have experienced over the last few weeks, both schools have agreed to forgo the traditional bonfires at their pregame spirit rallies,” Carry and Gorden Jr. said.

Vandalization is another aspect of the heated rivalry between USC and UCLA. Throughout pregame week, USC students broke into a protective box and spray-painted the UCLA Bruin Bear statue Trojan cardinal and gold colors. Back on the Trojans’ campus, group of students camped out to protect the school’s landmark Tommy Trojan statue. USC athletic director Lynn Swann delivered cookies and hot chocolate to the students, as a sign of gratitude for their protection.