The USC-UCLA game is almost here and there’s a lot of great memories in this rivalry, so let’s get to some of them.
But first: The UCLA equipment students defeated USC equipment, 55-22, Thursday night in Westwood. The Daily Trojan hosts the Daily Bruin in the Blood Bowl tonight at the USC Village.
Jarett Sabol, a Class of 2025 catcher/outfielder from Aliso Niguel High School, committed to USC on Thursday night.
- And now for some of that Crosstown Rivalry history:
- The 1975 USC-UCLA game program featured Ricky Bell.
- USC coach Jess Hill is carried aloft by his players after No. 3-ranked USC defeated No. 4-ranked UCLA, 14-12, before 96,869 at the Coliseum in 1952. The Trojans (10-1) scored first on a Jim Sears’ 65 yard run, taking a lateral from Al Carmichael as he was about to be tackled on a reverse.
- The second USC TD was set up when the Bruins (8-1) had a pass from tailback Paul Cameron intercepted by Elmer Wilhoite and returned 72 yards to the UCLA 8-yard line, tackled by Cameron. Sears passed to Carmichael for the winning TD on a fourth-down play. UCLA led 12-7 at halftime. USC would lose at Notre Dame the following week and then go on to defeat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl for the Pacific Coast Conference’s first win over the Big Ten.
- In 1966, after USC reserve tailback Jim Lawrence gained 89 yards and scored a TD vs. Cal in his first start, someone left a cane on the doorstep of his fraternity.
A note was left with the cane that had the name of UCLA defensive back Mark Gustafson but Gustafson did not send it.
“I thought it was a pretty good joke,” Lawrence said. “I don’t think Gustafson really sent it. Football players don’t do things like that. Besides, he’s got Stanford to worry about (this week), not us.”
Said Gustafson: “It would be awful stupid for a football player to send something like that. It’s ridiculous. If it was reverse, I wouldn’t believe a USC player did it. I’m convinced it was sent by a prankster.”
- Here’s a photo of Erik Affholter making “The Catch” over Marcus Turner in 1987.
Did he actually catch the controversial touchdown?
“I felt like I caught the ball but it bounced off (UCLA cornerback) Marcus Turner’s hands, off my shoulder pads and my face mask,” Affholter said.
“I secured it but I didn’t know where I was on the field. I didn’t know where the back of the end zone was.”
Affholter’s watched replays of the catch and says he goes back-and-forth trying to decide if he caught the ball.
“Watching it is like an optical illusion,” he said.
- In 1941, six USC students stole the Victory Bell, which was given to UCLA by its alumni assn. in 1939 and part of an actual Southern Pacific Railroad locomotive.
The bell was hidden for the next year at various locations and UCLA students would sometimes raid the USC campus and fraternities to search for the bell. Pranks began to get out of hand and USC president Rufus B. von KleinSmid threatened to cancel the USC-UCLA game if this vandalism did not stop.
When UCLA students made threats to kidnap USC student body president Bob McKay, a cease fire was declared and USC returned the bell on the condition it be awarded to the winner for a year.
- In 1958, UCLA students rented a helicopter and tried to drop 500 pounds of manure on Tommy Trojan. Some say it missed the target. Others say some of the manure blew back towards the people in the helicopter.
- Also in 1958, two USC students planted a potential time bomb under a UCLA cheerleader platform as a “prank” at the Coliseum. The students said the bomb was harmless and would only produce smoke but police said it posed a danger.
The bomb was discovered by two small children who climbed under the platform and yanked the wires loose from an alarm clock. More than 50 USC students who belonged to the Trojan Knights were involved in the prank, according to a university investigation.
Police eventually declined to file charges against the two USC students. With all the security at today’s games, imagine the uproar if something similar happened today? The game might be canceled. Of course, sneaking into the Coliseum and planting a bomb was a lot easier in the 1950’s.
- In 1989, USC students released thousands of crickets in UCLA’s Powell Library. As recently as 2016, dead crickets were reportedly still found in older books in the library.
- Look at this glorious photo from 1977. USC: Everyone in white socks and black cleats. A uniform.
The Trojans trailed 10-0 but scored 26 straight points to take a 26-10 lead in the third quarter. UCLA QB Rick Bashore, playing with a broken rib and collapsed lung, then led three scoring drives to give UCLA a 27-26 lead with 2:51 to play.
Trojans quarterback Rob Hertel drove the Trojans to the UCLA 21-yard line and Frank Jordan kicked a 38-yard field goal with two seconds left, which prevented the Bruins, who had won five straight, from going to the Rose Bowl. USC won, 29-27.
Less remembered than the field goal is a controversial pass interference penalty that kept the winning drive alive. On third-and-10 at midfield with a minute left, Hertel threw a pass to WR Kevin Williams.
UCLA safety Johnny Lynn touched the ball but head linesman F.E. Conley ruled Lynn interfered with Williams.
“I was coming across the field and a guy was holding the back of the pads,” Williams said. “I didn’t think the referee saw it but fortunately he did. It was definitely pass interference.”
Lynn disagreed: “I didn’t think I touched him. I dove out in front of the ball and my right hand hit it. Then I hit the ground.”
- Here is George Tirebiter, circa 1947, with the Trojan Knights at Tommy Trojan, which features a “Choke Bruin” sign.
USC coach Jeff Cravath enjoys a cigarette at the 1944 Crosstown Rivalry. The teams played twice that season because of World War II, opening and closing the season against each other.
Here is Cravath at the same game when the sideline featured wooden chairs and a desk for a telephone.
- There are plenty of great photos of the USC-UCLA rivalry and this 1965 picture is a prime example.
Today is the 55th anniversary of the 1967 game, as No. 4-ranked USC defeated No. 1-ranked UCLA, 21-20. Here is Jimmy Gunn rushing UCLA QB Gary Beban.
Here is the end of O.J. Simpson’s 64-yard TD run. No. 22 is wide receiver Earl McCullough.
MOVIE OF THE DAY
The opening scene of the 1956 film Nightfall is a must-watch for multiple reasons. There’s Hollywood Blvd. A newsstand with an amazing array of newspapers from across the country. A shot of Miceli’s Pizza House (one of our restaurants of the week and still the oldest Italian restauant in Hollywood).
But most of all for USC fans, the star of the film, Aldo Ray. He was the brother of USC left tackle Mario DaRe (1952-54). Aldo Ray was already famous when his brother played at USC but used to show up at Bovard Field for football practices and watch without fanfare. “He was a nice guy, who didn’t try to act like he was a Hollywood star,” said a USC official who saw Ray at the practices.
- Here is Mario DaRe from his 1955 appearance on You Bet Your Life where host Groucho Marx cracks a joke about him playing for USC.
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Did you know Dodger Stadium hosted a ski jumping competition in October, 1963 when an international ski show featured a 165-foot ski jump near the right-field pole.