It’s the score that will make any USC Trojans fan’s stomach curl. It’s the pair of numbers that breathes the historic rivalry. It’s the game that prevented three national titles in four years for USC.
The "13-9" game.
It is rivalry week in Los Angeles. This is the week where fans of USC and the UCLA Bruins take shots at each other, verbally and non-verbally. No matter the record of their respective team, both teams gut it out on the field, fighting for city supremacy, bragging rights, and the all-important ‘W’ (Oh, and some gauntlet sponsored by a car-maker).
The Trojans host the Bruins this Saturday at the Coliseum, where the Bruins are winless since 1997. USC have won the last 11 of 12 meetings between the two schools and look to extend their five-game winning streak against the Bruins, while also grabbing their 10th win of the season.
Both teams will be fighting for the Pac-12 South title.
While USC (9-2, 6-2) is a 14-point favorite to win the game against UCLA (6-5, 5-3), the Bruins will try to repeat history and upset the heavily favored Trojans and ruining a goal of theirs, you know, have their own "13-9" game.
To this day, I still don’t know how USC lost that game in the Rose Bowl.
USC was coming off of three consecutive wins against top 25 teams. They beat down the No.20 Oregon Ducks at the Coliseum, 35-10, erased a Desean Jackson-led No.17 California Golden Bears, 23-9, and beat down rival No. 6 Notre Dame 44-24.
The wins qualified USC to play for the national championship game against the Florida Gators. All the Trojans had to do was defeat a disappointing UCLA football team who had won two of their last six teams entering the cross-town showdown.
Right off the bat it looked bad for the Trojans as the first four possessions ended like this: Turnover on downs, punt, punt, punt. UCLA scored in the first quarter on an 11-play, 91-yard drive.
USC would gain momentum at the half however, making the Bruins commit a safety and a rushing touchdown by CJ Gable, which gave the Trojans the lead 9-7 at the half. The rest of the game was followed by frustrating USC drives as they could not do any adjustments to get past through the Bruins, who scored on two field goals.
The game essentially ended on John David Booty interception by Eric McNeal and the Trojans did not have enough time to score a touchdown. Just like that, USC couldn’t face the Gators in the championship and settle for the Rose Bowl game.
Will UCLA beat USC this year at the Coliseum? The odds are heavily against them, but stranger things have happened, just like 2006. Times have changed, however, and UCLA is playing worse than the 2006 squad while USC are rolling.
But don’t underestimate the drive of a rivalry.