In rivalries you always have those certain amount of players or coaches that just absolutely rub you the wrong way. Whether it was something they said, a forgettable moment, or the fact that the other team had no type of answer for them, there was always a reason for why. The USC/UCLA rivalry is no different. Regardless of the record, it’s always going to bring the best out of teams. USC has dominated the rivalry for the last ten years despite UCLA’s three year streak against the Trojans sandwiched in between. Who are some Bruins that USC fans just loved to hate during the history of the rivalry? Here are some candidates.
Quarterback Brett Hundley (2012-2014)
During the beginning of Jim Mora Jr. era, Brett Hundley was a thorn in the Trojans’ side. It seemed as if USC had no answer for him when they met. What made matters worse is that after UCLA defeated USC he made it known in the slightest of humble ways possible and it irked USC fans to no end. In his three years as the UCLA starting quarterback, Hundley passed for 768 yards, 92 yards, and nine total touchdowns (four through the air and five on the ground.) all while finishing with a perfect 3-0 record against USC.
Quarterback John Barnes (1992)
If you watched the 1992 USC/UCLA game at the time it happened, then you would’ve believed that the Trojans had a victory locked in. Up 21 in the fourth quarter and UCLA having to start a fifth string quarterback, what’s the worst that could happen? Barnes would go on to led the Bruins to a 21 point comeback to defeat the Trojans 38-37 at the Rose Bowl. Every year when the USC/UCLA game comes up, this is the key game that’s replayed and it makes fellow Trojan fans just shut the television off. Barnes threw for 385 yards and three touchdowns in the Bruins comeback victory. Barnes is a name that had many Trojan fans just cringed at during the 90’s.
Defensive End Eric Barnes (2006)
There's just something about people named Barnes and USC that doesn’t sit well. Eric Barnes and the UCLA Bruins weren’t supposed to compete with the No. 3 USC Trojans. A team who was on their way to compete for another BCS National Championship. All the Trojans had to do, was defeat UCLA and they would be on their way back. Barnes had other things in mind. Late in the fourth quarter with UCLA leading 13-6 and USC driving down the field to score and win the game, Barnes got his hands up to deflect and then pick off USC quarterback John David Booty’s pass to seal the victory and upset the No. 3 team in the nation, as well as end their hopes at playing in their third consecutive BCS National Championship game. The play is replayed over and over in UCLA football history as it was the Bruins’ first victory over USC since 1998 and it was all thanks to Eric Barnes.
Linebacker Anthony Barr (2012)
Yes this guy. In one play Anthony Barr became public enemy No. 1 within the USC fan base. In 2012 UCLA flexed their muscles against a USC team in the middle of a collapse. USC was attempting to comeback against the Bruins and was in position to score to cut the UCLA lead to three late in the fourth quarter. UCLA linebacker Barr came off the edge unblocked and sacked USC quarterback Matt Barkley. The play would give Barkley a broken collarbone, ending his college football career. The play is replayed all over social media amongst UCLA fans during rivalry week. Some even make memes with the play pictured which doesn’t sit well with USC fans at all.
Head Coach Jim Mora Jr. (2012-2017)
When UCLA hired Jim Mora Jr. many believed that nothing would change with the Bruins at all. For the first three years during his tenure, the Bruins’ football program had some bite to them. In 2012 UCLA sent a message that things were going to be different between the two programs. UCLA dominated the Trojans during the three year streak. Because of this, UCLA fans, students, and players began to show a little attitude and confidence which for USC fans, was like their little brother thinking that they owned everything because they were “grown.” Mora made it known that UCLA was better than USC at that time. More notably, after UCLA defeated USC 35-14 in 2013 at the LA Coliseum, Mora led the UCLA team up the tunnel and had them stand right in front of the USC locker room. From there, Mora yelled “WE OWN THIS TOWN!!”. The quotes got into the media and Trojan fans were not happy. USC and the fans would manage to get the last laugh as USC would string out three straight victories over the Bruins from 2015-2017. Mora would be let go after the 2017 season for current UCLA head coach Chip Kelly.