Game Week: USC Facts and Factors

NOV. 18 -- The UCLA/USC series is very close since 1980, and now first-year USC Coach Steve Sarkisian brings his flavor to the rivalry...

USC will drive about 14 miles to the Rose Bowl to face UCLA in the annual, crosstown rivalry game Saturday, at 5:00 p.m., with the game televised by ABC.

• UCLA is ranked #9 in the only ranking that matters, the College Football Playoff Rankings, while USC is ranked #19.

• The Bruins are 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12, while USC is 7-3 and 6-2.

• In fact, USC is currently atop the Pac-12 South standings by ½ game over UCLA.

• It is the 84th meeting between the two schools, with the series dating back to 1929. USC leads the series, 44-30-7, with two games (2004 and 2005) vacated due to USC’s NCAA penalties. For the last 34 years (since 1980) the series has been very even with USC holding the edge of 17-16-1, but if you don’t count those two vacated games, UCLA leads 16-15-1.

• UCLA has the longest winning streak in the series, beating USC 8 straight times from 1991 to 1998. USC responded by beating UCLA 7 straight times, from 1999 to 2005. But, of course, if you don’t count the two vacated games, it would only be five straight Trojan wins.

• Of course, UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora hasn’t lost to USC, beating the Trojans in his first two seasons.

• Last year, UCLA beat the Trojan at the Coliseum, 35-14, and the last time the game was played in the Rose Bowl, in 2012, UCLA won 38-28.

• UCLA and USC have both been nationally ranked in three straight meetings, the first time since 1980-1982.

• In games played at the Rose Bowl, UCLA leads 9-7.

• If UCLA wins Saturday, it will be the first time in school history the Bruins won 9 games three seasons in a row.

• UCLA’s ranking is its highest on or after November 16th since Dec. 3, 2005.

• By the time the regular season is over, UCLA will have the toughest schedule in the nation, according to ESPN.

• UCLA and USC are the second closest Big Five schools in terms of miles. UCLA and USC are 12.3 miles apart, while Duke (In Durham, N.C.) and North Carolina (in Chapel Hill) are 8.6. Only UCLA and USC share the same city, however.

• The proximity of the two campuses, with thousands of alumni sharing the same city, makes the UCLA/USC rivalry one of the most intense in the nation. The fact that UCLA and USC are quite different philosophically and idealogically also fuels the fire.

• UCLA, USC and Notre Dame are the only FBS schools to have never played a FCS school in football.

• On the day of the first game between the two schools, September 28, 1929, Los Angeles Times sportswriter Braven Dyer predicted, "In years to come, this game will probably be one of the football spectacles of the West."

• The Victory Bell, of course, goes to the winner of the UCLA/USC game. It was originally from an old Southern Pacific train and was given to the UCLA student body in 1939. It was then stolen by a USC organization and hidden for a year, until the two schools decided to award the Bell to the winner of the rivalry game. The metal mounting around the bell is painted the color of the school that owns it for that year.

• USC is coached by Steve Sarkisian, in his first year leading the Trojans. “Sark” (40) previously was the head coach at Washington for five seasons, where he had an overall 34-29 record, and was 24-21 in the conference. He went three seasons in a row – 2010 to 2012 – in which he won 7 games, and earned the moniker from UCLA fans as “Seven-Win Sark.” Before that he was the quarterbacks coach at USC for two different stints in the 2000s, with a year at the Oakland Raiders in between. Sarkisian is known to be a very good recruiter, but has yet to prove himself as a reputable head coach overall. He traditionally ran more of a pro-style offense, but has gone to a version of the spread during his last year at Washington and this year at USC. Observers in Washington thought that Sarkisian might be on the hot seat in Seattle – before USC Athletic Director hired him to replace his former colleague, Lane Kiffin, as USC’s Head Coach last December.

• At Washington, Sarkisian never beat a ranked team in November, going 0-4 in his five years there. In fact, at Washington, Sark was 1-12 when facing ranked teams in October and November.

• Mora and Sarkisian are friendly, and sometimes text each other, even during the season.

• Some of the best UCLA/USC week pranks:

-- In 1958, UCLA students rented a helicopter and dropped 500 pounds of manure on the Tommy Trojan statue.

-- USC students once let loose 20,000 red-and-yellow crickets in Powell Library.

-- UCLA students with a blowtorch cut off the sword of the Tommy Trojan statue and moved it to what would be an uncomfortable position.

• This year, USC students got to the Bruin bear statue early, spraying it with a little red paint last week, before the statue was covered.

• The SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup is awarded to the school that accumulates the most points in various head-to-head UCLA/USC match-ups in a school year. UCLA currently leads this year’s scoring, 25-10, and the winner of Saturday’s game will be awarded 10 points.

• UCLA and USC are #1 and #3 in all-time NCAA Championships. UCLA has 111, and USC has 100.

• UCLA is favored by 3.5 points.

• The weather forecast calls for a high of 71 degrees and partly cloudy skies Saturday. During the game the temperature should be in the high 50s to low 60s.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories