The rivalry between USC and UCLA will dictate more than bragging rights this year. After USC took a beating in Eugene and UCLA squeaked out a win against Utah, the "Crosstown Showdown" will be revived with a lot on the line this year. When these two teams take the field on Saturday all the opinions, predictions, and comments won't matter, only the scoreboard will have the final say. However this is not "just a game" being played, there is more at stake than a win.
Since 1916 when it was the Pacific Coast Conference, USC has won or shared 37 conference titles while UCLA has 17. These two teams share eight Heisman Trophy winners (Seven from USC including Reggie Bush) and 12 championships won. Hundreds of football players have came out of these two high-profile universities including O.J. Simpson, Troy Aikman, Jonathan Ogden, Troy Polamalu, and more. The two teams of Los Angeles combine for over 100 first round draft picks, multiple NFL MVP winners, and a winning tradition amongst some of the best in college football.
The NCAA has seen some of its best football from this rivalry, dating back to 1967 at the "Game of the century" when O.J. Simpson and No. 2 USC outworked Heisman Trophy winner Gary Beban and No. 1 UCLA 21-20 on a key O.J. touchdown run and three blocked kicks. We can fast forward into the year of 2006 when the infamous "13-9" occurred and blew USC's hopes at a fourth-consecutive national title game after being ranked No. 2 for the season. Last but not least what Trojan fan could forget the 50-0 blowout against UCLA that ended with USC defeating the Bruins 12 times in 13 years. However you remember this rivalry one thing has always been clear: you never know what's going to happen.
USC currently leads the rivalry series 44-31-7, but UCLA has won the last three by ten points or more including last year's 38-20 Victory Bell win in the Rose Bowl. It is kind of hard for these two universities to avoid each other, as they're located only twelve miles apart. Most of these players are childhood friends, played pop warner, and high school sports with or against each other. The rivalry this year will determine who is more dominant between the two, recruiting classes, and last but not least, who will represent the Pac-12 South against Stanford.
This game will feature the tale of a head coach that's fighting to remove "interim" from his title and another head coach looking to finally dominate the Pac-12 after a roller coaster season. Saturday will also feature talented athletes competing against each other from all over Southern California, including guys such as Antwaun Woods (Taft HS), Ishmael Adams (Oaks Christian), Josh Rosen (St.John Bosco), and Ju Ju Smith-Schuster (Long Beach Poly). This game will go down in history books for the universities, the Pac-12 South, and the overall conference. If the Trojans pull this off in the Coliseum, they will not only seek revenge on the Pac-12 North's Stanford Cardinal, but also will become victorious in the face of adversity.