The UCLA–USC rivalry is the American college rivalry between the UCLA Bruins sports teams of the University of California, Los Angeles and USC Trojans sports teams of the University of Southern California.
Both universities are located in Los Angeles, California. The rivalry between the two is among the more unusual in NCAA Division I sports because the campuses are only twelve miles apart, and both are located within the same city. The close proximity of both alumni and students, and the likelihood of encountering each other and interacting on a daily basis make this one of the most intense college rivalries in the United States.
USC is recognized as consistently being one of the top football programs in the nation, while UCLA is recognized as consistently being one of the top basketball programs in the nation. However, a somewhat rare confluence of events occurred in 1954, which began with USC in a Final Four appearance in the 1954 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament and ended with UCLA winning their only NCAA Division I-A national football championship.
Both schools also are successful in many "non-revenue" sports. Both have had success in track and field, water polo, tennis, and women's basketball. By May 2011, UCLA had won 107 NCAA team championships and 128 total National Championships, which is more than any other college or university. The No. 2-ranked UCLA women's golf team defeated No. 1-ranked USC women's golf team to win the 2011 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf National Championship, the third title in school history. The UCLA Women's Water Polo team beat USC's team 6-3 to win the 2008 Championship on May 11, followed by the Women's Tennis the following week beating California 4-0 to win their first women's tennis championship and the school's 102nd NCAA title. However, UCLA was knocked out by USC Women of Troy in Women's Golf on May 23, 2008. USC captured the 2008 NCAA Women's Golf Championship. This is also true of Women's Soccer. USC defeated UCLA in the 2007 NCAA Women's soccer College Cup Semifinals and went on to win its first women's soccer National Championship.
UCLA ranks first overall in NCAA championships and were first to 100 (currently 109). They also rank second in men's NCAA team championships with 72, and second (behind Stanford) in women's NCAA team championships with 37. USC ranks higher than UCLA in NCAA men's team championships with 79; it is 3rd overall (behind UCLA) with 93 NCAA titles
Both universities also compete in which school's athletes have been featured on more Sports Illustrated magazine covers. As of August 2008, USC led the rivalry with 119 Sports Illustrated covers (more than any other college or university) to 114 for UCLA.
The Lexus Gauntlet is the name given to a competition between UCLA and USC in the 18 varsity sports that both compete in head-to-head; in 2003, 2005, and 2007 UCLA won the Lexus Gauntlet Trophy, while USC won the trophy in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2009 (the first back-to-back win). After the 2009 award, it was terminated when Lexus pulled out as the sponsor.
Quite often, the winner of the football game has won or shared the Pacific-10 Conference title in football. A berth in the Rose Bowl game has been on the line many times as well for both schools. Since the formation of the Pacific Coast Conference in 1916, USC has won or shared 37 conference titles and UCLA has won or shared 17 titles. Washington is third in overall conference titles with 15. Since the 1959 season, when the Pacific-10 Conference was formed as the Athletic Association of Western Universities, through the 2007 season, the schools have won or shared 33 of the 48 conference titles. USC has won 17 championships outright, shared eight and gone to the Rose Bowl or BCS bowl 21 times. UCLA has won six championships outright, shared five and gone to the Rose Bowl eight times. The schools have shared the championship between them three times. In 2011, UCLA became the first Pac-12 South Division champion while USC held the best record. Both teams have spoiled conference and national championship runs for the other.
USC was a somewhat established national football power under Howard Jones and had begun a major rivalry with Notre Dame when UCLA joined the Pacific Coast Conference in 1929. Los Angeles Times sportswriter Braven Dyer predicted on the day of the first football meeting on September 28, 1929, "In years to come, this game will probably be one of the football spectacles of the West" USC dominated the early games (so much so, that after the first two games, the series was suspended for five years and they did not play each other from 1931 to 1935) until UCLA established itself. By the late 1930s, star players such as Kenny Washington, Jackie Robinson, and Bob Waterfield enabled UCLA to be competitive. With the hiring of Hall of Fame Coach Henry "Red" Sanders, UCLA became the more dominant program in the 1950s with their one and only National Championship in 1954. A famous quote was attributed to Sanders regarding the rivalry, "Beating 'SC is not a matter of life or death, it's more important than that." But Sanders died suddenly of a heart attack, and shortly thereafter, one of the greatest colleges football coaches in NCAA history took over the struggling USC program. Upon the arrival of their new head coach John McKay (1960–1975), USC entered a new golden age in their storied history. During McKay's tenure, the Trojans won 8 conference titles, 5 Rose Bowls, produced two Heisman Trophy winners (Mike Garrett and O.J. Simpson) and won three National Championships (1962, 1967, and 1972) and shared one (1974). Against UCLA, McKay was tough to beat posting a 10-5-1 record against the Bruins between 1960 and 1975. For most seasons from the mid-1960s to the end of the 1970s, the two schools were the top powers on the West Coast with USC usually holding the top spot. In the 15 Rose Bowls played from 1966 to 1980, USC or UCLA played in 12 of them. Even with the rise of Don James' Washington Huskies in the 1980s and early 90s, UCLA or USC still went to the Rose Bowl seven times between 1981 and 1995. In the 1990s, UCLA enjoyed an impressive 8-game winning streak against USC. The Bruin's unbeaten string ended in 1999 when the Trojans went on their own 12-1 run from 1999 to 2011. This unprecedented dominance was the direct result of the hiring of Pete Carroll by USC in 2000. During Carroll's tenure (2001–2009 seasons), USC was virtually unbeatable against its two most heated rivals, UCLA and Notre Dame. The only game that UCLA beat a Pete Carroll coached team was the 13-9 win in 2006 at the Rose Bowl that kept USC out of the BCS Championship game and allowed the Bruins to keep the record for consecutive wins (8) in the rivalry.
A number of titles have been applied to the football game such as: "The Los Angeles City Championship," "The Crosstown Showdown," "The Battle of L.A.", or simply the "crosstown rivalry." But none really have gained traction. Most often the game is referred to as the USC-UCLA (or UCLA-USC) football game by the media. Fans of a particular team refer to it as the USC game or UCLA game, using the name of the opposing school.
At UCLA, the week before the game is known as "Beat 'SC Week" (officially dubbed "Blue and Gold Week"). At USC, the week before the game is known as "Troy Week" or, more popularly, "Conquest".
Both schools host a number of activities on their respective campuses during the week to promote school spirit. Activities include parades, bonfires, rallies, and live entertainment.
CONQUEST! "The Ultimate Trojan Experience" occurs on the USC campus the Thursday before the USC-UCLA Football Game. It brings together athletics, academics, school spirit and traditions and attracts almost 10,000 students, alumni, faculty and staff.
Also, both schools take steps to prevent vandalism of two major landmarks on campus: USC wraps its Trojan Shrine (better known as "Tommy Trojan") in bubble wrap and duct tape, while UCLA covers its Bruin Bear statue with tarp stating "THE BRUIN BEAR IS HIBERNATING. BEAT 'SC.", and more recently a $5000 indestructible wooden puzzle box. Groups of UCLA students known as 'Bruin Bear Security Force' also camp out in Bruin Plaza, ostensibly to protect the Bruin Bear in the event of a prank, while the USC Trojan Knights hold a weeklong vigil guarding Tommy Trojan with the sign "Don't Bruin your life". This has come as a response to students painting the statues in the rival schools' colors before the game. On November 12, 2012, an entrance sign at UCLA was defaced with a "S" painted between the letters U and C beside obscene graffiti in red spray paint.
There are a number of inter-campus competitions between various groups before the game.
Starting with the 2008 season, the winners of a blood drive competition were announced during halftime, with the winners donating more blood to the American Red Cross. UCLA has won in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
On November 13, 2012, UCLA has served notice to the USC Marching Band that its drum major will not be allowed to stab a sword into the Bruins logo before the game in the Rose Bowl on November 17, 2012.
For a number of years, the schools shared the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as their home stadium until UCLA moved to the Rose Bowl for the 1982 season. Each school alternated as the "home" team for the game, with home fans on North side of the Coliseum and visitor fans on the South (press box) side. Until 1983, players on both teams wore their home football jerseys for the game. Since the 1984 season, when the game was played at the Rose Bowl for the second time, the visiting fans sit in the visitor section of each respective stadium, and the visiting team wears their white jerseys. Because UCLA called the Coliseum home and USC won a number of Rose Bowl games, each school has a lifetime winning record in the others' current home stadium.
Starting in 2006, the coaches at the time, USC coach Pete Carroll and UCLA coach Karl Dorrell expressed an interest in restarting the tradition of both teams wearing home jerseys. At the time, the NCAA football rules ARTICLE 3. a. stated, "Players of opposing teams shall wear jerseys of contrasting colors, and the visiting team shall wear white jerseys." USC coach Pete Carroll said he would be willing to lose two timeouts during the game so that the USC team could wear their red jerseys for the UCLA-USC football game on December 6, 2008. It was determined before the 2008 game that the visiting school would only lose one timeout for incorrect equipment. Coach Carroll agreed to forfeit a timeout to satisfy the ruling and Coach Rick Neuheisel agreed to forfeit one, in return (even though, as the coach of the home team, he was not required to do so by the ruling) to get back this tradition, and it was renewed in the 2008 game. In the wake of the coaches' decisions, the NCAA decided to amend their rules regarding away teams' uniforms (which were originally put into place to provide more contrast for Black & White photography and television broadcasts), changing the rule to state that the teams must agree on the decision for both teams to wear their colored jerseys before the game and that the uniforms must be of easily contrasted colors. Since the home team is already required to wear its colored home jerseys and would not be in violation of any equipment rules, this essentially leaves the decision up to them as to whether or not to allow the visiting team is to wear their home uniforms.
When the football teams from these schools compete against each other, the victor is awarded the Victory Bell. The Victory Bell was originally from an old Southern Pacific railroad locomotive. It was given to the UCLA student body by the UCLA Alumni Association in 1939. It was UCLA's symbol of victory until it was stolen by a USC organization called the Trojan Knights in 1941. After being hidden in various locations for over a year before resurfacing in a USC student magazine (known as the Wampus), a prank war between the two universities ensued until 1942, when the student body presidents of the two schools agreed that the bell would be the trophy awarded the winner of the annual UCLA-USC football game. The bell itself is brass, and the metal mounting around it is painted blue or red by the school that won the football game and earned its possession. When UCLA possesses it, the UCLA Rally Committee is responsible for its protection and care. While it is in USC's possession, the Trojan Knights are responsible for hiding, protecting, and showcasing the bell (including ringing the bell during home football games).
Until the Rose Bowl Game became part of the Bowl Championship Series, a berth in the Rose Bowl to face the Big Ten Conference champion was the ultimate goal that was awarded to the Pacific-12 conference champion. As of the 2007 season, USC has appeared in the Rose Bowl 32 times and UCLA has appeared 12 times. The Rose Bowl is still the destination for the first place Big 10 and PAC-12 teams, should either fail to qualify for the BCS championship game.
UCLA was the first PAC-12 team to appear in a BCS bowl, the 1999 Rose Bowl, their last conference championship year. USC has appeared in six BCS bowl games, winning the BCS championship in 2005. With the Rose Bowl stadium being the home field for UCLA, the UCLA–USC rivalry football game has been played there to a sellout crowd during even numbered years since 1982.
The Rose Bowl and conference championship has been on the line for both teams 19 times and at least one team 36 times as of the 2007 season. Both teams have either won the championship or spoiled it for the other at one time or another.
As of the 2012 season[update], USC leads 46-29-7 (including 2 vacated victories). There has been one overtime game in the series in 1996. Many of the games of this storied rivalry have ultimately determined the Pac-10 Rose Bowl representative and often a chance to play for the national championship. USC was forced to vacate both its wins from the 2004 and 2005 seasons due to NCAA violations.
Notes: *USC home game, **UCLA home game, highlighted scores indicate school with Rose Bowl on the line, or, after the 2010–12 NCAA conference realignment, the Pac-12 Championship game on the line.
UCLA holds the longest winning streak in the series, as UCLA won eight straight games from 1991 to 1998. USC's longest streak was for seven football seasons from 1999 to 2005, broken with a victory by UCLA in the 2006 game, although the 2004 and 2005 victories have since been vacated by the NCAA.
The 1967 USC vs. UCLA football game was one of the defining college football games of the 20th century. It matched No. 4 USC with O.J. Simpson against No. 1 UCLA with Gary Beban for the Conference Championship, National Championship, and Heisman Trophy on the line for Beban or Simpson. USC won 21-20 and went on to defeat Indiana in the Rose Bowl and win the national championship. Despite Simpson's sensational performance in this game and accumulating 1,543 rushing yards for the season, Beban won the Heisman Trophy. Simpson won the trophy the following year.
Between 1965 and 1978, the conference championship and Rose Bowl berth were on the line for both teams nine times.
In two other years (1975 and 1977) between 1965 and 1978, the Rose Bowl berth was on the line for UCLA only.
The USC coaches during this time were John McKay and John Robinson, while UCLA was coached by Tommy Prothro, Pepper Rodgers, Dick Vermeil, and Terry Donahue.
UCLA has 30 conference championships and USC has seven. When John Wooden became the coach, UCLA turned into a national basketball powerhouse. UCLA has won 11 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournaments and has dominated the conference, winning two games for every one that USC won. As of the 2007–2008 season, UCLA has won or shared the conference title 30 times, and USC has won or shared the title 9 times. There have been some notable games in the rivalry.
In Women's basketball, UCLA has one AIAW championship and USC has two NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championships. Ironically, USC won its second title, in 1984, at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins and the Trojans have faced each other twice in the second round of the AIAW championships with UCLA winning in 1979 and USC winning in 1981.
Because of the geographical proximity and conference affiliation, UCLA and USC compete in other NCAA sanctioned sports, such as Basketball, Track and Field, Volleyball, and Water Polo. UCLA and USC are #1 and #3 respectively in terms of the most NCAA championships won in Division I as of 2007. They have faced each other for the national title in several sports including Men's Volleyball and Women's water polo. Although basketball and football tend to get the most attention, the rivalry between the two schools is intense in every sport.
The athletic rivalry began in 1920 when the University of California, Southern Branch Cubs defeated USC in spring baseball 7-6. USC has gone on to be the premier team in college baseball with 21 appearances in the College World Series and 12 titles, the most of any school and double the next closest school, Texas, who has six titles in 34 appearances. UCLA has appeared in the College World Series five times. UCLA won its first NCAA Baseball title in 2013.
As of the beginning of the 2013 season between UCLA and USC, USC has 253 wins and UCLA has 126 wins. Since 2010, UCLA and USC have met in the second game of a college baseball doubleheader at Dodger Stadium called the Dodgertown classic.
Both USC Fencing Club and UCLA fencing club are in the Intercollegeiate Fencing Conference of Southern California (IFCSC). UCLA has consistently dominated USC throughout their meetings. They compete against NCAA fencing teams as well, such as UCSD, Caltech, and Cal State Fullerton.
UCLA women's soccer team has dominated the Women of Troy, 17-3-1. But at the 2007 NCAA College Cup, USC won in the semi-finals, ended UCLA's 8 straight victories over the Trojans. UCLA has outscored USC, 52 to 21, and has never lost to Women of Troy on Bruins' own field. In the 2008 regular season game, a pair of goals by Kristina Larsen gave UCLA a 2-1 win over USC in the Los Angeles Coliseum before a record crowd of 7,804 fans.
To advance to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals, the Bruins defeated the Women of Troy (1-0) in the round of 16 on Saturday, November 22, 2008 at Drake Stadium. It was also a battle between UCLA’s Lauren Cheney and Kara Lang and USC’s Amy Rodriguez, all of whom participated in the Beijing Olympic Games—Cheney and Rodriguez for the USA and Lang for Canada. Cheney and Rodriguez would win gold medals with Team USA, defeating Lang's Canada team in the quarterfinals.
As of the 2011 season, USC has won 19 and UCLA has won 16 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships. UCLA's most recent Championship was in 2005, while USC has won the men's title the previous four years through 2012. There was a run from 1960 to 1971 where either UCLA or USC was the champion. In twelve of the tournaments, one team has been runner-up to the other who won the championship, with an even split of six championships for both UCLA and USC.
UCLA has dominated men's volleyball under the coaching of Al Scates and as of 2006 has won 19 NCAA Men's Volleyball Championships. USC has won six. UCLA and USC have faced each other in the championship game of the NCAA Men's Volleyball Championship four times.
In women's volleyball, UCLA won the 2011 national Championship. UCLA now has won four and USC has won three NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships in Division I. In addition, USC and UCLA have won three AIAW Women's volleyball championships.
In 1981 USC defeated UCLA three games to two in the first NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship game. In 1976 USC defeated UCLA to win the AIAW volleyball championship.
The two school compete in water polo. In the NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship, UCLA has won the title 8 times and USC has won 7 times, with USC currently riding a 4 year championship streak (2008-2011). The team went head to head in the 1996 championship where the Bruins defeated the Trojans 8-7. In the NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship, UCLA has dominated, winning 6 of the 8 championships since the inception of the tournament in 2001. In the 2006 championship game, UCLA defeated USC 9–8. In 2008, The UCLA Women's Water Polo team beat USC, 6-3, in the Championship game on May 11, giving UCLA 101 NCAA National Championships. The Bruins' 100th NCAA championship was a Women's water polo victory over Stanford in 2007. UCLA have won four consecutive women's water polo titles (2005–2008).
The Bruins women's team battled the Trojans for the 2009 national championship on Sunday, May 10, 2009 at College Park, Maryland. With two goals in the first minute of the game, UCLA won a record fifth consecutive crown. It is UCLA's #104 team championship and the team's 11th national title (7th NCAA title).
As of December 5, 2011[update], USC leads the all-time all-sport record 915-857-10.][
Both UCLA and USC send many athletes to the Olympic Games. As of the last games, USC athletes account for 258 medals and UCLA athletes account for 241. A USC Trojan has been a Gold medal winner in every summer Olympics since 1912. As of the 2008 Summer Olympics, UCLA and USC athletes combined account for nearly one fifth of all medals won by the United States of America and their 499 combined medals would rank 9th on the country list.
The UCLA–USC rivalry is like few other college or university rivalries. Both universities are in the same city. Both universities are at the top in the nation not only for their sports achievements, but also for academic standing. While UCLA historically has been viewed as the more selective institution, USC has made great strides in improving its position in university rankings. Although UCLA outranks USC in almost all ranking systems, USC is currently tied with UCLA in the US News National University rankings at 24th. Graduate schools at both universities are among the top in their fields. Furthermore, graduates from both universities work together all across Southern California. It is not uncommon for married couples or family members to consist of graduates from each school. Undergraduates of one school can be found attending graduate school and/or professional school across town. High schools in Southern California send some of their top graduates to both schools every year, as do community colleges around Los Angeles. Students from each school, including athletes, even can be found rooming together in the same house or apartment in Los Angeles.
The rivalry is also a microcosm of a geopolitical rivalry based upon the locations of the schools, the cost of attending each school, and the founding and growth patterns of the schools.
USC is located on the Southern fringe of downtown Los Angeles by Exposition Park. In the early years of the city, it was a fashionable area, but it began to be rundown as wealthier residents migrated towards other suburban neighborhoods, following the national trend. USC was an isolated enclave for a number of years and the surrounding neighborhood had a bad reputation. Lately, with newer downtown construction, the area is becoming connected with downtown again, although the neighborhood remains marginal. Most of the major LA area public sports facilities are located near campus, including the Los Angeles Coliseum and Staples Center.
UCLA, by contrast, is located on the Westside of Los Angeles and is nestled between many several of the most affluent and desirable communities in southern California: Brentwood, Bel-Air, Beverly Hills and Westwood. Although this area was relatively remote and unsettled at the time of UCLA's founding, decades of growth in the area around campus means that UCLA is hardly the suburban location it once was.
In 2012, Bruins football coach Jim Mora said he sold recruits on the safety of UCLA's campus location. "I mean, we don't have murders one block off our campus," said Mora. He denied he was making a reference to USC, which months earlier had two of their students killed near campus.
The University of California is a public university, while the University of Southern California is a private university. As a public university, UCLA offers discounted attendance rates for California residents. For 2009-10 the estimated cost of attendance (tuition, fees, room, board, books, etc.) at UCLA is approximately $30,476 for in-state students living on campus, compared to $53,354 for out-of-state students, also living on campus.
At USC, no differentiation in fees is made between California residents and those coming from out-of-state. USC estimates the cost of attendance for all students living on campus for the 2009-10 school year at about $60,801
The University of California System has raised fees on all its campuses, including at UCLA, over the years to account for declines in state support and to keep pace with inflation.
Costs of attendance at both UCLA and USC may be off-set by financial aid, in the form of loans or grants based on merit or need or both. This includes athletic scholarships.
USC was established in 1880 and UCLA was founded in 1919 when California Gov. William D. Stephens signed California Assembly Bill 626, establishing the Southern Branch of the University of California. UCLA moved to its current location in 1927 when it was renamed the University of California at Los Angeles. USC had been playing football since 1888 and joined the Pacific Coast Conference in 1922. UCLA started playing football in 1919 and joined the PCC in 1928.
Because of their dominance of their respective sports, other schools in the Pacific-10 conference regard a basketball game with UCLA or a football game with USC as one of their top games of the year, no matter what the current standings.
USC also has a football-only rivalry with the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This predates the UCLA–USC rivalry by three years. Although a conference championship is never at stake, both schools have the college football national championship as their ultimate goal. And the game is usually used as a measuring stick to compare not just those two programs, but also the relative performance of many of the top teams in college football. The schools play for the Jeweled Shillelagh.
UCLA had a basketball rivalry with Notre Dame that started when Digger Phelps was the Notre Dame coach and John Wooden was the UCLA coach. UCLA and Notre Dame played a home-and-home meeting for several seasons, which is otherwise uncommon outside conference play. This rivalry existed from the desire of the Notre Dame athletic department to schedule the top schools for intersectional competition. UCLA and Notre Dame played 42 times between 1966 and 1995, and the height of the rivalry was when Notre Dame ended UCLA's consecutive-game winning streak at 88 on January 19, 1974. UCLA also broke a 60-game Notre Dame winning streak in South Bend. Current UCLA head coach Ben Howland has since scheduled Notre Dame four times: in 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009. After UCLA's victory on February 7, 2009, UCLA leads the all-time series 28-19. In the 1990s, UCLA also had a basketball rivalry with Arizona under coach Lute Olson, as the two schools competed for the Pac-10 Championship every year. The UCLA-Arizona basketball rivalry still is seen as the match up of the two premier teams in the conference. Also, the performance of the two schools influences the national opinion of the conference.
UCLA and USC have rivalries with the Bay Area Pacific-12 schools, Cal (the University of California, Berkeley) and Stanford University. These rivalries extend to all sports within the conference, and stem from the Northern California vs. Southern California dynamic. There also exists the commonality of UCLA and Cal as public institutions against Stanford and USC as private institutions. Also, due to their positions as the most prestigious in the University of California system, there is also rivalry between UCLA and Cal. Stanford and USC are also long-time rivals as two prestigious private universities in California, as well as the only two private schools in the conference.