USC tries to wrest the Victory Bell from UCLA two months from now. But both teams finding themselves ranked in the top 10 compels fan dreams of a matchup of undefeated squads adding drama to a game already bursting with history and meaning.
In a match-up of top-10 teams in 1939, UCLA’s Jackie Robinson stripped the football from a USC running back at the two-yard line (see footage here) to preserve a 0-0 tie. Since then, USC is 7-0 when the two teams meet with both in the top 10, but UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen hopes to end the streak November 18.
UCLA’s 1939 rookie coach Edwin Horrell decided to go for a touchdown from the 3-yard line rather than kick an easy field goal to win the game 3-0. Robinson’s great tackle and strip to save the tie occurred earlier in the game in front of the 103,000 in attendance. Robinson batted .097 as a freshman in baseball, but made history in the Los Angeles Coliseum before doing so by breaking baseball’s color barrier.
UCLA’s freshman current quarterback Josh Rosen started Heisman talk with a 142.1 rating through two games, and Bruins faithful hope he can be the first to ever beat USC in a match-up of Top 10 teams.
1939 – Jackie Robinson led No. 9 UCLA to a shutout of No. 3 USC. UCLA finished No. 7 in the Final poll while USC went to the Rose Bowl to defeat No. 2 Tennessee and win a split national title with Texas A&M.
1952 – No. 4 USC beats No. 3 UCLA 14-12 in a battle of unbeaten and untied teams.
1967 – No. 2 USC beats No. 1 UCLA 21-20 to claim and goes on to claim the national title.
1969 – No. 5 USC beats No. 6 UCLA 14-12 – UCLA fans still claim they were cheated on a non-existent pass interference call.
1972 – No. 1 USC beats No. 10 UCLA 24-7 en route to the AP and UPI National Titles and Rose Bowl win. Sam “Bam” Cunningham finished with the national title two years after basically integrating Alabama football by beating them 42-21 with two touchdowns and 135 yards of total offense two years earlier
1973 – No. 10 USC beats No. 6 UCLA 23-13 to go to the Rose Bowl.
1976 – No. 3 USC beats No. 2 UCLA 24-14 to go to the Rose Bowl.
1988 – No. 2 USC clinches the Rose Bowl with 31-22 win over #4 UCLA.
2015 – No. 10 UCLA faces No. 6 USC on November 18, and if both are still in the Top 10 Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen can make history.
Rosen averages 7.5 yards per attempt with four touchdowns and one interception. Scouts laud his pro-level ability to read defenses and make every throw through 574 yards passing and 64.9 percent completion rating in two games.
UCLA faces a big test in BYU this week. USC hosts 1-1 Stanford.