Best Moments in USC vs. UCLA College Football Rivalry

The crosstown rivalry between the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins is one of the better rivalries on the West Coast. The two teams fight for Southern California supremacy and will join each other in the Big Ten starting in 2024.

For now, they’re both in the PAC-12, where Lincoln Riley’s Trojans are the favorites to win the division with their college football odds at +200. Chip Kelly’s Bruins have the fourth-lowest odds in the conference at +1000.

Only 11 miles separate these two campuses, and naturally, proximity breeds contempt. The first showdown on the football field occurred in 1929 when the Trojans routed the Bruins by a score of 76-0. The rivalry was officially declared in 1941 when USC students stole the Victory Bell, a 295-pound behemoth, from UCLA’s campus. That same Victory Bell is now awarded to the winner each year. 

Here’s a look at some of the USC vs. UCLA rivalry throughout the years:

All-time record: USC leads 49-33-7

Record in the last ten meetings: Tied at 5-5

Longest Win Streak: UCLA eight straight

Current Streak: UCLA one game

Best game: USC 21, UCLA 20 (1967)

This epic showdown featured the top two teams in America. How often do the country’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams reside within the same city? 

That was the case in 1967 when the No. 1 Bruins and No. 2 Trojans fought in a battle decided by a single point. With a Rose Bowl berth on the line, it looked like UCLA already had the fragrance of roses wafting in the air as the Bruins took a 20-14 lead in the fourth quarter thanks to Heisman quarterback Gary Beban. 

The Trojans would not be denied, as O.J. Simpson took a handoff 64 yards to the end zone as they narrowly pulled off the 21-20 victory. It was undeniably a college football classic.

Biggest upset: UCLA 13, USC 9 (2006)

The Trojans entered this contest with a 10-1 record as the No. 2 ranked team in the country and had every right to believe they’d be playing in the BCS title game to conclude the year. It was supposed to be a walk in the park against a 6-5 Bruins and the last regular season game.

The Bruins had other plans, dashing the Trojans’ BCS title dreams. It was a bizarre game in which USC’s normally potent offense led by quarterback John David Booty was held to just nine points, snapping an NCAA-record streak of 63 games in which they had scored at least 20 points.

Top performer: RB Reggie Bush, USC

The year before UCLA’s 2006 upset win, the Trojans defeated their rivals by a blowout score of 66-19 in 2005. The two teams entered the contest ranked (No. 1 USC and No. 11 UCLA), but the final score wasn’t even close. Trojans running back Reggie Bush had 24 carries for 260 yards and two scores to cap a perfect 3-0 career record against the Bruins.

It wasn’t the first time in his career that he had over 200 rushing yards in this series, as he had 15 carries for 204 yards and two scores while adding 73 receiving yards in 2004’s narrow 29-24 Trojans win. 

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