The Big Game Tradition

The UCLA–USC Rivalry

An American college rivalry kicked off this past week between the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans. The rivalry between the two is among the more unusual in sports because the campuses are only twelve miles apart, and both are located within the same city of Los Angeles. The close proximity of both alumni and students, and the likelihood of encountering each other and interacting on a daily basis make this one of the most intense college rivalries in the United States.

My family hosted some prospective students this week and they were overwhelmed at the  festivities that took place on campus and throughout the city. This past Friday they captured Tommy Trojan wrapped in duct tape. USC Trojan Knights hold a weeklong vigil guarding Tommy Trojan with the sign “Don’t Bruin your life”.

Josh Falco

Both schools take steps to prevent vandalism of two major landmarks on campus. UCLA covers its Bruin Bear statue with tarp stating “THE BRUIN BEAR IS HIBERNATING. BEAT ‘SC.”, and more recently a $5000 indestructible wooden puzzle box.

UCLA Student Affairs

Groups of UCLA students known as ‘Bruin Bear Security Force’ also camp out in Bruin Plaza, to protect the Bruin Bear in the event of a prank.  This has come as a response to students painting the statues in the rival schools’ colors before the game. On November 12, 2012, an entrance sign at UCLA was defaced with a “S” painted between the letters U and C beside obscene graffiti in red spray paint.


Sean Murphy/Daily Bruin

There are also plenty of activities that occur before the game from parades, bonfires, rallies, and live entertainment. At UCLA, the week before the game is known as “Beat ‘SC Week” (officially dubbed “Blue and Gold Week”). At USC, the week before the game is known as “Troy Week” or, more popularly, “Conquest”.  CONQUEST! “The Ultimate Trojan Experience” occurs on the USC campus the Thursday before the USC-UCLA Football Game. It brings together athletics, academics, school spirit and traditions and attracts almost 10,000 students, alumni, faculty and staff.

The inter-campus competitions that are held between various groups before the game range from blood drives to golf challenges…

  • Daily Bruin vs. Daily Trojan “Blood Bowl” – Staff of the Daily Bruin and Daily Trojan have competed in a flag football contest that is also called the “Blood Bowl”. This tradition has existed since at least 1950.
  • The Band Bowl – From the 1950s until 2000 the UCLA Marching Band and the USC Marching Band played in a flag football contest called the “Band Bowl”. While parked on the USC campus for the 2000 game, UCLA band’s equipment truck was broken into with many instruments and gear being stolen.[15] The incident ended the Band Bowl between the two schools.
  • UCLA vs. USC Football Manager’s Bowl – UCLA and USC football equipment managers compete in a flag football contest the week leading up to the actual football game. In 2011, the UCLA managers beat the USC managers in triple overtime. The USC managers have won the previous 4 match-ups.
  • UCLA vs. USC Kickoff Golf Challenge – UCLA teams compete against USC teams in a two-person best ball scramble.
  • UCLA vs. USC Men’s Ice Hockey – UCLA and USC have teams that compete in  ACHA Division II club-level Ice Hockey. They begin their series for the Crosstown cup.
  • UCLA vs. USC Men’s Rugby – UCLA and USC compete every year on the day after the football game
  • ROTC “Blood Bowl” – The football rivalry extends to the military training units at both schools. The Naval and Army Officers Training Corps midshipmen and cadets at both universities compete in the annual “Blood Bowl” flag football game against each other, usually held the Friday before the official game, as a parallel to the varsity match. The name stems from the often rough and passionate play by the midshipmen and cadets representing school pride. After a 25-12 victory on Dec, 3 2010 by the Army Battalion, UCLA continues to lead the series all time versus USC 15-11. As of November 18, 2011, the USC NROTC battalion is in possession of the Bloodbowl football trophy following a 24-20 upset against their UCLA counterparts.
  • Starting with the 2008 season, the winners of a blood drive competition were announced during halftime, with the winners donating more blood to the American Red Cross.