No. 1 USC Football Faces Crosstown Rival UCLA In Rose Bowl
Nov. 28, 2004
It's 'Championship Saturday.' It's also the 75th anniversary (and 74th game) of the famous crosstown rivalry between USC and UCLA, which began in 1929. A USC win would give the top-ranked and defending national champion Trojans the Pac-10 title outright and propel Troy--already a lock for the Rose Bowl--into the BCS Championship Game in the Orange Bowl. The winner earns year-long bragging rights and possession of the Victory Bell. USC owns a 5-game winning streak over UCLA (a Trojan best in the series). Also, USC--winner of 31 of its past 32 games under head coach Pete Carroll--is riding several other streaks: 20 overall games (its longest in more than 70 years), 14 Pac-10 contests and 8 road outings. Troy is coming off its third consecutive 31-point win over intersectional rival Notre Dame. USC is trying to sweep traditional foes Notre Dame and UCLA for the third consecutive season, which would be a first for the Trojans. It's a rare December meeting between the schools and it is USC's latest regular season finale since 1980. The Rose Bowl is USC's second home, as this will be the 44th time the Trojans have played in Pasadena. The game is sold out, the seventh time this year that Troy has played before a capacity crowd. QB Matt Leinart, who appears atop the Heisman Trophy leaderboard, directs a powerful offense that is averaging about 440 yards and 37 points a game. He gets offensive help from the 'Thunder and Lightning' tailback duo of bruising LenDale White (he's on the verge of a 1,000-yard rushing season) and electrifying Reggie Bush (a multipurpose threat who also is a Heisman candidate), plus a receiving corps that includes high-scoring freshman Dwayne Jarrett (12 TD catches), now-healthy Steve Smith and deep-threat TE Dominique Byrd. USC--which is allowing just 11 points a game--is ranked in the NCAA's Top 8 in every defensive statistical category. Four All-American candidates lead the way: DTs Shaun Cody (a Lombardi finalist) and Mike Patterson and LBs Matt Grootegoed (a Butkus finalist) and Lofa Tatupu. All-American P Tom Malone continues to lead the Pac-10 in punting average. UCLA--also headed to the post-season--is more-than-rested after 2 consecutive bye weeks, having last played on Nov. 13 (a crucial win at Oregon). The Bruins have one of the nation's most potent offenses (getting 431 yards and 32 points a game), featuring TBs Maurice Drew and Manuel White, receivers Craig Bragg (the school's career receptions leader) and Marcedes Lewis and QB Drew Olson. Spencer Havner, one of the country's best linebackers, leads the Bruin defense. UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell has experienced this intracity rivalry as a player and now as a coach. Key points are at stake for the Lexus Gauntlet competition between the schools. The game will be shown live nationally on ABC-TV.