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Rick Neuheisel vs. USC

The UCLA coach has faced the Trojans six times as a player, assistant and head coach.

November 25, 2009
  • UCLA quarterback Rick Neuheisel, center, is all smiles as he stands with Mike Young (18), with whom he connected for a 53-yard touchdown pass during the first half, as they celebrate their 45-9 victory in the closing minutes of the 70th Rose Bowl game on Jan. 2, 1984.
UCLA quarterback Rick Neuheisel, center, is all smiles as he stands with… (Associated Press )

Rick Neuheisel knows USC as an opponent as a player and coach. He was a quarterback for the Bruins in 1981-83 and also faced the Trojans as a coach at Washington before coming to coach at UCLA. A look at how he has fared:

1982: Neuheisel, in his second year on the UCLA roster after making the team as a non-scholarship player, played in his first rivalry game as the holder for kicks. Early on, he tried to turn an extra-point attempt into a two-point play and was hit hard, separating his shoulder. But he carried on after being taped up by the trainer. "No way was I coming out," he said years later. "I told the center, snap it low because I can't reach up for the ball." UCLA won, 20-19. Those kicking points can make a difference.

1983: UCLA started the season ranked No. 20 by the Associated Press but opened with three losses and a tie. Neuheisel was the starting quarterback, lost the job, then regained it. The Bruins took a 5-4-1 record into the final game of the regular season but trailed the Trojans, 10-6, at halftime before rallying for a 27-17 win. That victory, coupled with a Washington State upset over Washington, put the Bruins in the Rose Bowl with the worst record of any team ever sent to Pasadena. There, UCLA routed Illinois, 45-9, as Neuheisel passed for 298 yards and four touchdowns.

1992: Neuheisel was a UCLA assistant when injuries forced the Bruins to start an unknown, walk-on quarterback named John Barnes, who suffered through ups and downs. Neuheisel could relate to Barnes so he talked to him about remaining confident. In the regular-season finale, Barnes led the Bruins to a 38-37 shocker over heavily favored USC.

2001: As Washington's head coach, Neuheisel had the Huskies undefeated and ranked No. 11 when they met USC, which was 1-3 under a relatively unknown first-year coach named Pete Carroll. Washington got a 32-yard field goal from John Anderson as time expired for a 27-24 victory -- and didn't beat USC again until this season.

2002: What a difference a year made. With Norm Chow calling the shots for USC's offense, Carson Palmer passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns as the Trojans routed the Huskies, 41-21. Neuheisel was fired after the season for taking part in an NCAA basketball tournament betting pool.

2008: In his first rivalry game as head coach of his alma mater, Neuheisel and UCLA lost, 28-7. However, he earned praise from both sides for his actions at the start of the game: Defying NCAA rules, USC showed up at the Rose Bowl in its cardinal and gold home jerseys -- the first time both teams wore their home colors in the same game since 1982. The Trojans paid for it by being penalized a timeout, but UCLA's first-year coach showed good sportsmanship by burning a timeout so the Bruins wouldn't enjoy an advantage.

-- Chris Foster

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