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Beyond City Limits

Trojans' last five national-championship runs included memorable moments against Bruins

November 19, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

As second-ranked USC prepares for UCLA -- and a possible run at its first national title in 25 years -- the Trojans can point to history.

Five of the Trojans' eight national championship seasons included victories over the Bruins. The schools did not play during USC's title runs in 1928, 1931 and 1932.

USC and UCLA played each other for the first time in 1929 and again in 1930, but the series was suspended until 1936, probably because USC won the first game, 76-0, and the second, 52-0.

UCLA derailed unbeaten USC in 1959, but the Bruins could not stop Trojan teams from finishing with national titles in 1962, 1967, 1972, 1974 and 1978.

The games featured some of the most dynamic players and compelling situations in the history of a rivalry whose 73rd game will be played Saturday at the Coliseum.

"No matter how long you live, no matter how far you travel or what you do in life, this game always comes back to you," Ron Yary, the 1967 Outland Trophy winner from USC, said Tuesday.

Here is a look at the USC-UCLA games that sent the Trojans on their way to a national title:

NOV. 24, 1962

No. 1 USC 14, UCLA 3

Attendance: 86,740

Led by quarterback Pete Beathard, running back Willie Brown, end Hal Bedsole and lineman Damon Bame, USC took an 8-0 record into the game, having defeated a Navy team led by Roger Staubach the previous week.

Looking back, Bedsole described the matchup against the Bruins and star halfback Kermit Alexander as a "gateway" game for USC.

"Up until that game, I don't think anyone really believed we could go undefeated and play for the national championship," Bedsole said.

Larry Zeno's 35-yard field goal in the second quarter gave UCLA a 3-0 lead at halftime.

USC, a 14 1/2-point favorite, then blew several scoring opportunities, one late in the third quarter when running back Ben Wilson was stopped short on fourth and goal from the three-yard line.

Early in the fourth quarter, however, Brown made the play of the game.

On fourth and eight from the UCLA 24, Brown -- USC's first I-formation tailback -- lined up at flanker and ran a post route. Quarterback Bill Nelsen lofted a pass toward the end zone and Brown made a spectacular leaping catch at the two, setting up a two-yard touchdown run by Wilson.

Beathard scored on a one-yard run with 33 seconds left to seal the victory.

"The play before I made that catch, I came back to the huddle and told them, 'I can beat this guy. Throw it over the middle and I'll be there,' " recalled Brown, a former USC assistant and successful restaurateur who maintains his Trojan connection as an academic monitor. "Somebody has to step up and make plays."

According to Times columnist Sid Ziff, the only negative on an otherwise glorious day for both schools was the behavior of UCLA's card section, which spelled out "We can't buy our diplomas."

USC defeated Notre Dame in the regular-season finale, 25-0, then beat No. 2 Wisconsin, 42-37, in a wild game in the Rose Bowl, winning the first of Coach John McKay's four national titles.


NOV. 18, 1967

No. 4 USC 21, No. 1 UCLA 20

Attendance: 90,772

The only things riding on the outcome of this game were the Rose Bowl berth, a probable national title and the Heisman Trophy.

As Times sports editor Paul Zimmerman opined in his game advance: "Never in the history of college football have two teams approached the climax of a season with so much at stake."

Despite being ranked behind UCLA, USC was a three-point favorite. The Trojans featured junior running back O.J. Simpson. Quarterback Gary Beban led the Bruins.

UCLA took the lead on Greg Jones' 12-yard run in the first quarter, but USC tied the score on Pat Cashman's 55-yard interception return for a touchdown.

A 52-yard on a reverse by Trojan flanker Earl McCullouch set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Simpson for a 14-7 lead that the Trojans took into halftime.

Beban connected with George Farmer for 53 yards and a touchdown with two minutes left in third quarter, tying the score, then Beban's 20-yard touchdown pass to Dave Nuttall in the fourth quarter put UCLA ahead, 20-14.

But UCLA kicker Zenon Andrusyshyn, who had missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt and had two others blocked, pushed the conversion kick wide, leaving the Bruins with a tenuous six-point lead.

UCLA Coach Tommy Prothro had instructed his players to help Simpson get up after he'd carried the ball so he could not rest on the ground. But with about 10:30 left, Simpson showed he still had plenty in reserve.

With the ball at the Trojans' 36, USC quarterback Toby Page called an audible, changing a pass play to a run. Simpson took a handoff to the weakside and fullback Danny Scott and center Dick Allmon blocked All-American linebacker Don Manning.

"I ran into O.J. and bumped him to the outside," said Allmon, the president of an industrial warehousing company in Los Angeles. "Then I took off downfield, and he cuts back and here I am about to knock him down again."

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