UCLA Upsets Over USC

In the recenty history of the storied, inner-city rivalry, UCLA has beaten USC quite a few times when the Trojans were favored. And quite a few times when the game was played in the Rose Bowl...


In the last 22 years, since 1980, USC has only beaten UCLA three times when it was favored to win the game. There have been 10 times when USC was favored to win in that time period and UCLA has won seven of those games.  So, since 1980, when USC was favored, UCLA is 7-3.


Six of UCLA's last 10 victories against USC have been upsets.  During the streak of eight wins against USC between 1991 and 1998, four of those game were upsets, including three in a row.


In these seven upset victories since 1980, five of them have been in the Rose Bowl. One that wasn't was in 1980, before UCLA had moved its home field to the Rose Bowl and it was actually a UCLA home game. 


Some of the most memorable games among these upset victories:




A 4-6 UCLA team was down by 17 points in the fourth quarter to USC at the Rose Bowl.  The team rallied in the last ten minutes to tie the game in regulation, and then won it in the second overtime on a 25-yard touchdown run by Skip Hicks, 48-41.




USC was 8-1-1 and ranked 11th and was on its way to the the Rose Bowl. USC's wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson came out onto the Coliseum field before the game and planted a USC flag in the turf.  UCLA, at 6-4 and 3-4, and fifth in the Pac-10, was starting a true freshman quarterback, Cade McNown. With McNown leading them, UCLA won 24-20, and Cade did his memorable bootleg in the last couple of minutes of the game that clinched the win.




Trailing 31-17 in the fourth quarter to a heavily favored USC team at the Rose Bowl, UCLA backup quarterback John Barnes staged a huge rally. Two drives tied the score at 31-31 with about 7 minutes left to play.  Then with about 3 minutes left in the game, Barnes faced a third-and-four from his own 10 yard line. He then hit J.J. Stokes with a pass on UCLA's 25-yard line and Stokes fought off tacklers and raced the rest of the 90 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, to lead, 38-31. But USC drove the field and scored, to bring the score to 38-37. UCLA linebacker Nkosi Littleton then knocked away a USC pass for the two-point attempt in the endzone to preserve the win.




USC was ranked 12th in the country and UCLA 18th as the two teams squared off for their annual match in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Trailing 17-13 with two minutes left in the game, UCLA quarterback Jay Schroeder was trying to mount a last-ditch drive to win the game.  Throwing the ball deep down the field, the pass was tipped – and then grabbed by UCLA running back Freeman McNeil, who ran for a touchdown to complete the dramatic 58-yard scoring play  for the win.

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