Third in a series: As part of the lead-up to the 2015 USC-UCLA game, we look back at some intriguing anniversaries that have aligned this year:
35 years ago: 1980
UCLA 20, USC 17
Dubbed “The Probation Bowl,” No. 18 UCLA (9-2, 5-2) and No. 12 USC (8-2-1, 4-2-1) had nowhere to go from here since both were on NCAA lockdown. This one became famous for a Jay Schroeder pass tipped by USC’s Jeff Fisher into the arms of Freeman McNeil, who ran it in a 58-yard touchdown with two minutes to play. This was the last time UCLA played as the home team at the Coliseum, and it was also UCLA coach Terry Donahue’s first win over USC after losing his first four to John Robinson.
40 years ago: 1975
UCLA 25, USC 22
John McKay coached his last game at the Coliseum, on a rare Friday after Thanksgiving instead of on a Saturday, and Dick Vermeil’s No. 14 UCLA (8-2-1, 6-1) won a trip to the Rose Bowl against No. 1 Ohio State. The Bruins fumbled 11 times and lost eight of them, including four of them by Wendell Tyler. But USC (7-4, 3-4) capitalized on only one of them, when Ricky Bell’s second TD, and a two-point conversion, brought USC to within three as the fourth quarter opened.
Bell ran for 136 yards and had 1,881 for the season, but was six yards short of Ed Marinaro’s NCAA single-season rushing mark. Tyler ended up 130 yards rushing to break Kermit Johnson’s single-season UCLA rushing record. The loss was USC’s fourth in a row in conference play, which had not happened to the Trojans since 1922. Postscript: UCLA went on to knock off Ohio State in the Rose Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 5. And after USC won the Liberty Bowl, McKay would finish with a 127-40-8 record in 16 seasons at USC with eight Rose Bowl appearances, four national championships and three undefeated seasons before he went to the NFL’s expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and lost his first 26 games there, an NFL-record streak that still stands.
45 years ago: 1970
UCLA 45, USC 20
The Bruins (6-4, 4-3 Pac-8) had never scored that points in a game against the Trojans (5-4-1, 3-4), but few could have seen that coming. John McKay’s USC team had won the previous three meetings, and had made trips to the last four Rose Bowls. UCLA quarterback Dennis Dummit threw for 272 yards, Rick Wilkes set a school single-game record with 11 catches and Marv Kendricks set a school single-game rushing record with 182 yards on 28 carries.
This was also Tommy Prothro’s last game coaching in the rivalry as he left to take over the NFL’s L.A. Rams.