Friday, December 01, 2006

Sports: D-1 until UCLA vs. U$C

UCLA has not won this game since 1998. The games have been blowouts with the exception of 2004 (29-24) and 2000 (38-35) and 1999 (17-7) where it was a low scoring affair.

My earliest memories of the rivalry was 1975. UCLA with a victory could go to the Rose Bowl and the Bruins actually won the game against USC, 25-22! Coach Dick Vermeil would use that victory and a Rose Bowl victory to make the jump to the NFL.

Terry Donahue took over as coach of UCLA and lost in 1976, 1977 (on a last second field goal), 1978, 1979. One wonders if he had lost in 1980 would he have been fired. In 1980, the Donahue led Bruins finally won 20-17.

In 1981, the Bruins were down 22-21 and were moving into field goal range. Norm Johnson was the star field goal kicker for the Bruins who went onto a decent NFL career. We can win this thing. The field goal unit went out there and ... it got blocked. Another heart breaking loss for the Bruins.

The one and only time I saw a game live was 1982.

The Bruins were leading 20-13 when USC started to march down the field. As a student, I was in the upper stratosphere of the student section in the end zone. It seemed like most of the game was played at the other end of the field. But on this drive, USC started at the opposite end and was moving down toward us. We watched in horror as they got first down after first down. Memories of past defeats were haunting us. We had a bad feeling about this: they were going to get the TD and go for the 2 point conversion.

They scored the TD on the final play of the game making it UCLA 20 USC 19.

There was no time on the clock.

USC called a time out to set up the play.

They came onto the field.

UCLA called a time out.

Both teams gathered around their coaches and the fans were all on their feet waiting.

The teams came back onto the field. The UCLA pep squad exhorted the fans to make noise. The Rose Bowl with 100,000 stood as one screaming at the top of their lungs either as Trojan fans wanting to steal a win or Bruin fans wanting to hold on for a rare win.

The snap. The sack. The crowd goes wild.

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