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Home / Sports / USC, UCLA football rivalry to be renewed at Coliseum today

USC, UCLA football rivalry to be renewed at Coliseum today

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The 91st annual USC-UCLA football game will be played Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with the Trojans seeking to move within one victory of being bowl eligible and the Bruins attempting to win in the crosstown rivalry for the sixth time since 1999.

USC needs victories in two of its final three regular-season games to reach the six needed to be bowl eligible. The Trojans have played in a bowl game every season since 2001 except for 2010 and 2011 when they were banned from bowls because of an NCAA penalty and last year when they opted out of playing in a bowl game because of a rise in COVID-19 cases among its players and staff, injuries stemming from playing three games in 13 days and other factors.

UCLA is 5-17 against USC since 1999, including a 1-10 record at the Coliseum, with the victory coming in 2013.

The Trojans (4-5, 3-4 in Pac-12 play) have lost three of their last four games, including a 31-16 loss to Arizona State Nov. 6. The Trojans are coming off an unexpected bye week when their game at California scheduled for last Saturday was postponed due to COVID issues in the Golden Bears’ program. The game was rescheduled for Dec. 4.

UCLA (6-4, 4-3) became bowl eligible for the first time since 2017 with a 44-20 victory over Colorado last Saturday at the Rose Bowl after back-to- back losses.

Freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart will make his first career start for USC with Kedon Slovis sidelined by a lower leg injury. Dart is the first Trojan quarterback to make his first career start against the Bruins since Scott Tinsley in 1980.

Dart has completed 50 of 81 passes for 589 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions in three games.

Bruin quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is second in the Pac-12 in total offense, averaging 261.9 yards per game, and second in pass efficiency with a 145.3 passer rating. Thompson-Robinson needs 264 yards of total offense to move into fourth on UCLA’s career list, passing Drew Olson, who had 8,324 yards from 2002-05.

Oddsmakers have made the Bruins a 3 1/2-point favorite, but ESPN’s Football Power Index gives USC a 55.7% chance of winning.

The Trojans lead the series, 49-32-7, not including victories in 2004 and 2005 that were vacated due to an NCAA penalty. USC won last year’s game, 43- 38, on Slovis’ 8-yard touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown with 16 seconds to play, overcoming an 18-point third quarter deficit to keep possession of the Victory Bell.

The 295-pound bell originally hung atop a Southern Pacific freight locomotive and 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.

The winner scores 10 points toward the Crosstown Cup, a trophy awarded annually to the school with the most successful athletic year against the other. Points are awarded to the winner of each USC-UCLA head-to-head contest with the Crosstown Cup awarded to the school with the most points at year’s end.

The Trojans have won the Crosstown Cup 12 times in the competition’s 19 years, including in the 2020-21 academic year. (The 2019-20 competition was suspended in the spring when collegiate athletic events were cancelled due to COVID-19.)

The Bruins lead the current competition, 25-10.

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