Commentary

USC-UCLA history bears repeating

Updated: November 30, 2010, 2:10 PM ET
By Pedro Moura | Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com

Terry Donahue & John McKayUS PresswireTerry Donahue and John McKay presided over some of the rivalry's most intense matchups.

The top 10 football games between the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins since 1960:

10. Nov. 18, 1989: USC 10, UCLA 10

At least one tie has to be on the list, and this was the last such finish in series history. The visiting Trojans had already punched their ticket to the Rose Bowl before the game and the Bruins were on their way to their worst season in 18 years. As a 17-point underdog, UCLA had the opportunity to win the game on the last play after USC fumbled with two minutes left in Bruins territory, but Alfredo Velasco's 54-yard field goal attempt bounced off the crossbar.

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9. Nov. 22, 1986: UCLA 45, USC 25

This game is famous for UCLA's fake kneel-down/Hail Mary attempt when the Bruins were up 24-0 near the end of the first half -- the pass from UCLA quarterback Matt Stevens was tipped and eventually caught by receiver Karl Dorrell as the Bruins took a 31-0 lead into the break. One of the rare blowouts in the series when the two teams came in on somewhat equal footing; USC was 7-2 and UCLA was 6-3-1.

8. Nov. 28, 1975: UCLA 25, USC 22

Legendary coach John McKay's final game at the Coliseum as the Trojans unsuccessfully attempted to derail a Bruins team headed for the Rose Bowl. This was also one of the rare games in the series not played on a Saturday; it was played on the Friday night after Thanksgiving. Offensive lineman Myke Horton and running back Wendell Tyler also played for UCLA in this game. Their sons -- running back Marc Tyler, linebacker Wes Horton and defensive end Shane Horton --- now play for USC.

7. Nov. 17, 1990: USC 45, UCLA 42

The highest-scoring game in series history, the fourth quarter of this one included 42 points, three touchdowns scored in the final three minutes and four lead changes. Future NFL receiver Johnnie Morton caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Todd Marinovich with 16 seconds left to give USC the win, only minutes after he had made a remarkable diving catch in the corner of the end zone. Other players who went on to NFL success in this game included UCLA quarterback Tommy Maddox and USC receiver Curtis Conway.

6. Nov. 19, 1988: USC 31, UCLA 22

A game often remembered as the "measles game;" USC quarterback Rodney Peete had been diagnosed with measles in the week before the game but played anyway and led undefeated USC to a big victory over Troy Aikman and sixth-ranked UCLA. Peete was thought to be unlikely to play as late as Friday; a local doctor told the Los Angeles Times he would get "creamed" if he played, and USC prepared sophomore Pat O'Hara to start. But the senior and eventual Heisman runner-up showed few signs of complications during the game, according to reports.

BellMalcolm Emmons/US PresswireRicky Bell ran for 167 yards with a sprained ankle against UCLA in 1976.

5. Nov. 20, 1976: USC 24, UCLA 14

One of the biggest national-scale games in the series' history, as the Trojans and Bruins entered the game Nos. 2 and 3 in the nation in the first rivalry game between coaches John Robinson and Terry Donahue. The benches under the peristyle end of the Coliseum were reportedly packed hours before kickoff. Ricky Bell ran for 167 yards with a sprained ankle as UCLA guarded against Trojans quarterback Vince Evans' lethal arm -- only to see Evans rarely attempt a pass and Bell run rampant over the Bruins' defenders in the second half. USC held UCLA to 216 yards fewer than their season average.

4. Dec. 2, 2006: UCLA 13, USC 9

Regarded as one of the biggest upsets in the college football season, 6-5 UCLA topped one-loss USC by virtue of a vastly improved defensive game at the Rose Bowl, taking away the No. 2-ranked Trojans' opportunity to play Ohio State for the 2006 national championship and ending USC's seven-game series winning streak and remarkable 63-game streak of scoring at least 20 points in a game. Said USC coach Pete Carroll afterward: "We did not anticipate this happening."

3. Nov. 22, 1969: USC 14, UCLA 12

You could make the case that this is the most talked-about game in USC-UCLA history. With fewer than two minutes to play, USC receiver Sam Dickerson made a 32-yard sliding catch in the back of the Coliseum end zone, but many say he was in fact out of bounds.

Earlier in the drive, there was also a questionable pass interference call on a throw that was so out of Dickerson's reach it reportedly landed on the Coliseum track. Oh, and both the Trojans and Bruins were undefeated entering the game, with a Rose Bowl spot on the line.

2. Nov. 23, 1996: UCLA 48, USC 41 (2OT)

A very underrated game in the series history -- the only overtime game between the two schools that featured a remarkable 17-point fourth-quarter comeback by UCLA, led by quarterback Cade McNown and running back Skip Hicks. A USC field goal was blocked by UCLA defensive tackle Travis Kirschke as time expired, and the teams traded field goals once in overtime before Hicks ran it in from 25 yards out to give the Bruins the winning touchdown.

Gary BebanDarryl Norenberg/US PresswireUCLA quarterback Gary Beban played what some call the Game of the Century with badly bruised ribs.

1. Nov. 18, 1967: USC 21, UCLA 20

Appropriately known to many as the Game of the Century, the No. 4 Trojans beat the No. 1 Bruins, led by a stunning 64-yard touchdown run from USC tailback O.J. Simpson in the fourth quarter. USC went on to win the national championship and Simpson would win the Heisman Trophy the next year. UCLA quarterback Gary Beban -- who played the game with badly bruised ribs -- was the 1967 Heisman winner. Little-known notes about this game: It was played only a year after ABC began broadcasting college football games in color, UCLA was an underdog despite entering the game as the top team in the nation and playing in its home stadium and 6-foot-8 USC offensive tackle Bill Hayhoe blocked two kicks in the game, including one Bruins PAT attempt that would have made Simpson's run only tie the game.

Honorable mentions: In 2005, USC crushed No. 11 UCLA 66-19, as the Trojans took a 46-point lead through three quarters. … In 1999, USC won 17-7 to break the Bruins' streak of eight straight victories. … In 1991, UCLA began an eight-game series winning streak with a 24-21 win over the Trojans. … In 1987, USC's Eric Affholter juggled and caught a pass from Rodney Peete in the end zone to win 17-13, after the Trojans were down 13-0.

Pedro Moura is co-author of the USC blog on ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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