Fourth 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:
50 years ago: 1965
UCLA 20, USC 16
With the Athletic Association of Western Universities title on the line and a trip to the Rose Bowl, No. 6 USC had a 16-6 lead over first-year Bruins head coach Tommy Prothro’s No. 7 team with four minutes left, thanks to two Troy Winslow TD passes and a field goal by Tim Rossovich. Then USC committed its fifth turnover of the game. Sophomore quarterback Gary Beban’s 34-yard TD pass to Dick Witcher, plus a two-point conversion pass, made it 16-14. UCLA then recovered an onsides kick at the Trojans’ 48. With 2:39 left, Kirk Altenberg’s 52-yard touchdown catch from Beban before 94,085 at the Coliseum capped off one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of the cross-town rivalry. Mike Garrett, the eventual Heisman winner, ran for 210 yards but had several key fumbles for USC (6-2-1, 4-1) that led to scores by UCLA (7-1-1, 4-0). The victory ended a three-year losing streak to USC for the Bruins. Postscript: UCLA got past No. 1 Michigan State 14-12 in the Rose Bowl, the first win for the Bruins in the Jan. 1 classic, and end the season ranked No. 4. USC was ranked No. 10.
75 years ago: 1940
USC 28, UCLA 12
The seventh game in the series — the Trojans had won five of them to go with two ties — was the last one coached by USC’s Howard Jones, and the final one played by UCLA star left halfback Jackie Robinson. The Trojans won behind 170 yards rushing and three touchdowns by Bobby Robertson on 31 carries, plus return one kickoff for 60 yards and another for 30. But there were no USC passing yards. Robinson, who would score 36 of the team’s 79 total points that year, had a first-quarter TD run untouched for 6 yards that gave the Bruins a 6-0 lead, plus and a fourth-quarter TD pass of 15 yards to Ted Forbes. But Robinson missed both PAT kicks — the first was blocked, and he picked it up, trying to throw for a conversion that was incomplete. Robinson ended up running 13 times for 56 yards, the longest for 21 yards on a first-quarter fake punt. He also completed eight of 18 pass attempts for 81 yards according to the primitive play-by-play sheet in USC’s archives. That season, Robinson led the Bruins in rushing (383 yards), passing (444 yards), total offense (827 yards), and punt return average (21 yards) but the team went 1-9 record, 1-6 in the Pacific Coast Conference. Jones’ Trojans finished with its worst record under his watch (3-4-2, 2-3-2). He retired after the season only to die of a heart attack in 1941. In 16 years at USC (1925-40), he was 121-36-13 with a 5-0 mark in the Rose Bowl. His coaching career started in 1908 at Syracuse.