The USC and UCLA football teams will meet at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday with the Trojans seeking their second consecutive 10-victory season and the Bruins trying to become bowl eligible.
USC (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12 Conference) clinched a berth in the conference’s championship game last Saturday with a 38-24 victory over Colorado. A victory over UCLA would give them sole ownership of the South Division title.
The Bruins (5-5, 3-4) need either a victory over the Trojans or Friday over California in the regular-season finale for their sixth victory to become bowl eligible. UCLA, which was 4-8 last season and failed to qualify for a bowl, has not missed going to a bowl game in consecutive seasons since 1989 and 1990.
USC has won 15 consecutive home games, the nation’s second-longest current home winning streak behind Alabama, which has won 18 consecutive home games. The Bruins have lost eight consecutive road games.
Both teams will wear their home jerseys, a tradition that began in 1949, was interrupted twice and revived in 2008 and continued continuously since then with the exception of 2011. The Trojans will wear their cardinal jerseys and UCLA blue.
USC leads the series, 46-31-7, not including victories in 2004 and 2005 that were vacated due to NCAA penalties. The Trojans were 36-14 winners last year. The Bruins have won only four times in the last 18 meetings dating to 1999.
This will be the 12th time in the series 87 games, and seventh time in the past nine years, the game has started at 5 p.m. later.
The start time was determined by ESPN selecting it to air on ABC’s “Saturday Night Football,” which begins at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST. ESPN and ABC are both owned by the Walt Disney Co. ESPN is among the three rights holders for Pac-12 football games, along with Fox Sports and the Pac-12 Network.
The game will be the final game at the Coliseum for 13 Trojan seniors. They will be introduced individually prior to the opening kickoff as they run onto the field through the Heritage Tunnel comprised of former USC players.
Those seniors will be joined by three former players turned undergraduate student assistant coaches — Kenny Bigelow Jr., Kevin Carrasco and Jonathan Labonty — and possibly some redshirt junior walk-ons who do not plan on returning in 2018.
The game was approaching a sellout as of Friday afternoon, USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone told City News Service.
The winning team will be awarded the Victory Bell, a 295-pound bell originally hung atop a Southern Pacific freight locomotive.
The bell was given to the UCLA Alumni Association in 1939. In 1941, it was taken by a group of USC students who hid it in a variety of locations for more than a year.
Following an intervention by school administrators, the student body presidents of both schools signed an agreement in 1942 providing that the winner of the football game would keep possession for the next year, a tradition that has continued, along with painting the bell’s carriage in the school color of the winner.
—City News Service