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The annual USC vs. UCLA football game

Updated on October 15, 2014

The hoopla and fun that surround the big game

The rivalry between the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles is legendary, longstanding, and far-reaching. It comes to its peak at the annual football game between the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans.

The USC vs. UCLA game gets nationwide attention and spurs numerous celebratory activities here in Los Angeles. It's a week-long party for the students, alumni, and fans of two great colleges.

Tailgating videos from 2012

History of the USC-UCLA football game - I guess I'll talk about football a little bit.

The 2008 USC-UCLA game.  Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
The 2008 USC-UCLA game. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The first two football games between USC and UCLA were in 1929 and 1930. Both were routs. The score in 1929 was USC-76, UCLA-0. The score in 1930 was USC-52, UCLA-0. The two colleges did not play each other again until 1936, when they played to a 7-7 tie. Since then the series has been more competitive.

Many times, either or both schools' hopes for Bowl games and championships have rested on the results of the game.

There is an exhaustive summary of the entire series on Wikipedia.

In 1966, UCLA and USC had one loss each when they faced off in their rivalry game.

UCLA beat USC, but USC was voted into the Rose Bowl anyway. Angry UCLA students took to the streets and blocked off one side of the 405 Freeway in protest.

USC Fight Song

UCLA Fight Song

POLL - Whose side are you on?

Which team do you favor in the USC-UCLA football rivalry?

See results

My father attended both USC and UCLA, but didn't get a degree from either school.

He says that because of this he can root for USC in football and UCLA in basketball.

Talk about your team!

Speak out! Tell us why your team rules!

Why is your team the best?

Official activities associated with the game

This John Martinez Pavliga picture of the UCLA Spirit Squad is actually from a game against Cal.  So sue me.
This John Martinez Pavliga picture of the UCLA Spirit Squad is actually from a game against Cal. So sue me.

School spirit activities take place on both campuses for a week before the USC-UCLA game.

At UCLA, the week before the USC game is called "Blue & Gold Week" or "Beat 'SC Week". It's includes a homecoming where many UCLA graduates come back to join in the celebrations. The UCLA fight song and the traditional 8-clap UCLA cheer are ubiquitous. Other Blue & Gold Week activities have included:

  • A car smash, where a car that has been decorated in Trojan colors (red and gold) is pounded into oblivion by sledgehammer-wielding Bruin fans.
  • A "Get the Red Out!" blood drive.
  • The "Beat 'SC" parade.
  • The rally and bonfire that close out Blue & Gold week.

At USC, the week before the UCLA game is "Troy Week" or "Conquest". Live bands and the fabled USC Song Girls are anticipated parts of the festivities. Activities also include:

  • Academic competitions where prize money is awarded to winners in poetry, essay, two-dimensional art, and animation categories.
  • The Conquest fair and rally, culminating in a bonfire.

The two colleges have several competitions between themselves during the week of the big football game. Such as:

  • Ice hockey.
  • Rugby
  • Golf
  • And flag football games between:

    • The two ROTC units.

  • The staffs of the two college newspapers, The Daily Bruin and The Daily Trojan.
  • For many years there was also a game between the two schools' marching bands, but the tradition was brought to an end after a fight broke out at one of the games and after numerous musical instruments were stolen.

USC Rally

The band and the Song Girls lead the crowd in their signature anti-UCLA song.

UCLA Rally

Clips from their parade and bonfire.

For mixed marriages

There are lots of households in Los Angeles that include alums of both USC and UCLA.

Unofficial activities associated with the game

Trojan fan taunting Bruin fans.  Photo by Eric Chan.
Trojan fan taunting Bruin fans. Photo by Eric Chan.

Along with the school-sponsored events, there are plenty of unauthorized expressions of revelry and rivalry.

Party On! deemed the USC-UCLA game to be one of the premiere events for attracting tailgaters who have no intention of actually getting into the game.


Take no prisoners!

The students of USC and UCLA are infamous for pranking each other, especially during Troy/Blue & Gold Week. These are some of the most notable pranks:

  • The first prank occurred in 1941, when USC students stole UCLA's Victory Bell. The bell, which had originally been UCLA's sole property, is now used as a trophy which the winner of the USC-UCLA game wins the right to possess for the year.
  • In 1958, some UCLA students got a helicopter with the intention of dumping a pile of manure on USC's mascot, Tommy Trojan. Unfortunately, they missed their target and dumped the manure in Exposition Park.
  • For many years, the students of USC would steal all the copies of the UCLA newspaper, The Daily Bruin, and replace it with a fake newspaper that said negative things about the Bruins.
  • In 1953, UCLA students managed to saw off the arm of Tommy Trojan and reattach it in a way that made it look like Tommy was stabbing himself in the back
  • In 1975, a group from USC made up a fake memo and delivered it to the UCLA advisors and clubs. The memo said that the UCLA Pep Rally had been cancelled.

These days Tommy Trojan and the Bruin Bear are covered and guarded during the critical week to keep them from being defaced. However, even with these protective measures, someone managed to get to the Bruin Bear during 2009 rivalry week and splatter it with red and gold paint (Trojan colors). The Los Angeles Times has the story -- 2009 defacing of the Bruin Bear (they've got a great picture of it, too).

The USC mascot, Tommy Trojan, is wrapped in duct tape during Troy Week to prevent vandalism from Bruins fans.

The USC mascot, Tommy Trojan, is wrapped in duct tape during Troy Week to prevent vandalism from Bruins fans.
The USC mascot, Tommy Trojan, is wrapped in duct tape during Troy Week to prevent vandalism from Bruins fans.

The two most notorious African-American gangs in Los Angeles, the Crips and the Bloods, officially established a truce in 1992.

There is no indication that Bruin fans and Trojan fans will follow suit any time soon.

The respective headquarters of the Crosstown Rivalry - 13.88 miles separate UCLA and USC

A markerUCLA -
405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
get directions

USC Band Halftime Show - at the 2009 UCLA game

This show is definitely a step up from a couple of Bowl games that I've seen where USC played "Get Down Tonight", a song in which the verse and chorus contain only two notes (the vamp has three notes).

Their musical picks here are more substantial than that, but they still don't measure up to UCLA.

UCLA Band Halftime Show - at the 1995 USC game

UCLA definitely wins me over with their musical selection, their arrangements, and the clarity of their performance.

© 2010 Joan Hall

Fight! Fight! Fight! - Add your comments here!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      enjoyed viewing this today, thank you!

    • Kelsey-Budden-16 profile image

      Kelsey-Budden-16 7 years ago

      Wow. Lots of information on here. My step-dad is a major football fan and I started getting interested in it.

      I found it pretty interesting to read what I did!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Joan - loved the stories of the USC/UCLA school rivalries, but most especially the features you did on the marching bands. In the late 1970s and early 1980s my hubby was the band 'announcer' for the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) Mustang Marching Band in San Luis Obispo. We went to every Cal Poly football game and sat with the band (so much fun). Once a year we went on a band trip and one year it was to UCLA. I have no idea who won the ballgame -- the Band was of primary focus! Love those "Halftimes"! I'm leaving a ~~sprinkling of SquidAngel Blessing dust~~ over the 'halftime' field here. Good luck to whichever team you are rooting for in the annual USC/UCLA football game!

    • Amy Fricano profile image

      Amy Fricano 7 years ago from WNY

      This is a great lens idea. So glad I knew another prank for you! Yes Tommy Trojan once had his sword removed by UCLA kids who put it somewhere else on the horse's anatomy. Nothing to do with the game, but another funny thing USC does is send out "Trojan Alerts" to parents about any issues on campus, flu, earthquake drills, etc. Do I have to explain why that is NOT a good title to alert parents of college students!?

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 7 years ago

      I've followed UCLA football for years and always loved them, but knew little about USC and the rivalry actually. Interesting, huh?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      High up in the hills of Westwood

      Sprawled offensive to the eye

      Lies a Cal extension campus

      Known as Westwood High (high high high)

      Home of all the Bruin bearcubs

      UGLY is its name

      The student body's vile

      The football team's a pile

      and the campus is a shame!

      U (clap clap clap) G (clap clap clap) L (clap clap clap) Y (clap clap clap)

      U G L Y Eat My Shorts!

    • dc64 lm profile image

      dc64 lm 7 years ago

      Put two great teams in one state, and you have the recipe for rivalry! Where I live, the rivals are Alabama and Auburn. It can be great fun, but I hate when people take it too far.

    • profile image

      buraian 7 years ago

      This lens is great. I've featured it on my UCLA vs USC lens!

    • profile image

      roadroamer 7 years ago

      A friend of mine went to USC. I knew there was a huge rivalry between the two schools. A few years back, we went to a late night pizza place outside of UCLA - I think - or it could've been USC. Westwood? I want to say that was the name of the neighborhood. I'm from the east coast so I don't know the area too well. Thanks for the lensroll for my NY vs Boston lens!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Great photos and videos. Makes me want to stand up and do a cheer!

    • Wendy L Henderson profile image

      Wendy Henderson 8 years ago from PA

      The all star floor mat is a cool idea.

    • profile image

      Joan4 8 years ago

      Looks like a super fun football game to me! I love fall, football and falling leaves and the beginning of the school year!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 8 years ago from USA

      Fun, fun, fun!