The USC/UCLA rivalry is a pretty unique one. Both schools are in the same city and are separated by about 13 miles from each other. Many players played in the same city at the same high school or against each other in the same city. Regardless of the record the Trojans/Bruins always provide some moments that we won’t forget.
The 2011 edition of the crosstown rivalry was destined to be a pretty interesting one. USC was coming into the game with a 9-2 record and fresh off defeating No. 4 Oregon on the road. The Trojans were in year two of the sanctions handed to them by the NCAA due to the Reggie Bush scandal, however that didn’t stop the Trojans who had some key wins down the stretch and were having an outstanding season thanks to their offense led by quarterback Matt Barkley, Wide receivers Robert Woods, Marqise Lee, and running back Curtis McNeal.
UCLA on the other hand entered this game with a lowly 6-5 record, however they also had a 5-3 record in conference. The Bruins were coming off a 45-6 victory over Colorado at the Rose Bowl. After the game the Pac-12 declared the Bruins the Pac-12 South Champions and would go on to face Oregon in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game. This was due to the Trojans being ineligible for postseason play due to the sanctions and bowl ban handed to them before last season. The week of the game, UCLA head coach said that he felt his program had closed the gap between them and USC.
USC wanted to send a statement to UCLA and the Pac-12 on who the real Pac-12 South Champs were on that November night. The game would also be well known for the uniforms that UCLA donned that night. The Bruins debuted a new all white uniform, going away from the tradition of both teams wearing their home jerseys. The uniforms would earn the nickname “The surrender uniforms.”
Four plays into the first possession of the game, Barkley would complete a 42 yard pass to freshman wide receiver Marqise Lee for a touchdown to light up the Coliseum crowd. It appeared Kiffin and USC were indeed going to have one of those nights. UCLA would look to answer back as they drove all the way down to the USC one yard line. Unfortunately for the Bruins they failed to get into the end zone as they were stopped on all four downs. The ensuing drive would end on a McNeal 73 yard run to put USC up 14-0. The route from there was on. USC would tail off one of the biggest blowouts in rivalry history.
Junior quarterback Barkley would have a career night against UCLA, throwing for 423 yards and six touchdowns. He would also surpass Matt Leinart for the single season touchdown conference record in the blowout as well. Sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods would also have a career night, setting the conference single season reception record that was held by Keshawn Johnson back in 1995 while having 12 catches, a 113 yard game and two touchdown night against the Bruins. Lee also benefitted from Barkley’s night. The freshman had game leading 224 yards on 13 catches and two touchdowns. Both Lee and Woods would end the season with 1,000 yards receiving.
With the UCLA down 50-0 late in the fourth quarter, the Bruins would have one more chance to get points. On fourth down UCLA would attempt to once more get into the end zone only for USC safety TJ McDonald to break up the pass play and preserve the shutout. USC’s statement was indeed sent. At the end of the game Barkley would climb the ladder and lead the band in playing Conquest to the chants of “One More Year!” by the student section. The Trojans would also sport a “2011 Pac-12 South Champions” shirt to further send the message to the UCLA Bruins, Pac-12, and NCAA.
UCLA would fire head coach Rick Neuheisel the following week, however they would allow for him to finish the season out. The Bruins would lose to the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship game and lose to Illinois in the Fight for Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, CA. The Bruins would go on to hire Jim Mora Jr. as their next head coach. USC on the other hand would once again miss the bowl season, however they ended the season with a 10-2 record and ranked No. 6 in the AP Polls. Barkley and safety McDonald would announce their return for their senior season while tackle Matt Kahlil would declare for the NFL draft, getting drafted in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings.
USC’s 50-0 victory would be the third largest shutout in rivalry history. It was also the first time since 2001 that the Trojans shutout UCLA. The win would give USC 12 wins in 13 games over the Bruins. The 50-0 game will forever stick to both USC and UCLA fans.