Rivalry Week…Congrats Skip !…Drei’s Favorite SC-UCLA Moment, A Skip Toward 6

Leading Off…

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Congratulations to our 2016 Manager of the Year, Dave Roberts ! In spite of the many injuries particularly to the starting rotation, the rookie manager led the Dodgers to their 4th straight NL West title. Like the starter rotation, Roberts alma mater, UCLA, will have to overcome some huge obstacles if they are to beat S.C. this Saturday…

Divided We Are…

The only thing that can divide Dodger fans, aside from recent elections, is the annual SC-UCLA game. Over the years USC has had the decided edge not only in wins but in conference and national championships

Prior to last season UCLA had won 3 straight from the Men of Troy. UCLA also owns the longest winning streak in the series, having won 8 straight from 1991 to 1998. 

After a 1-3 start that included an embarrassing loss to Alabama, USC has recovered remarkably, winning 6 straight including last weeks impressive win over the Washington Huskies. 

USC  is a heavy favorite over UCLA. Deservedly so. 

As we all know, when these two meet, all records are thrown out…

20 Years Ago…1996…A Skip Toward 6

” Skip Hicks holds the UCLA school record for touchdowns in a season and in a career, but most people seem to only remember two of them.

Hicks was an All-American running back his senior season with the Bruins and went on to play five seasons in the NFL, but it seems Bruins fans only remember his performance in one game: UCLA’s improbable comeback victory over USC in 1996.

“Hey, at least they remember me,” Hicks said.

It would be difficult for Bruins fans to forget. “

Peter Yoon, ESPNLosAngeles.com, Nov 30,2010

As for this Bruin fan, those 2 TD’s and that exhilarating Saturday afternoon will be ever so hard to forget…150 years down the road.

The afternoon would not start off so great for the UCLA faithful. USC would jump out to a 17-0 en route to a 24-7 halftime lead, thanks in large part to a pick six by Sammy Knight and a 67 yard TD reception by R.J. Soward. Both TD’s would finish in the NE corner of The Rose Bowl endzone…Right in front of me…Nothing but grass separating my vision of those two and their path…

The second half would start off with a bang as UCLA QB Cade McNown would find Danny Farmer on a post down the middle to draw UCLA within 10. SC would strike back though with a long drive of their own to bring the deficit back to 17 late in the 3rd…

Puig_VictoryBell

The Victory Bell…The prize that both schools play for…Currently in that “Other” schools possession in that “awful” shade of red…

With UCLA trailing by 17 once again, prior to SC kicking off, I couldn’t help but to take a glance at the Victory Bell…Painted a glorious Blue 5 years in a row…Possibly on the verge of being surrendered…A fact not lost among the UCLA cheerleaders, huddled around the bell as two of them had their arms tightly wrapped around the frame…

If UCLA was to surrender The Bell they wouldn’t do it lying down…Certainly not UCLA QB Cade McNown…McNown and company would counter back with a long drive, capped off by his 9 yard TD scramble that would bring UCLA back within 10…

20160924_154638 Kicking it with Cade McNown, 9/24/2016 prior to the UCLA-Stanford game

With the Bruins back in the game heading to the 4th, both teams exchanged punts. With just over 10 minutes to go, SC QB Matt Koffler finds R.J. Soward streaking down the sideline with…Once again…Nothing but grass separating him from the endz one…The NE Corner no less…Yup, right in front of me (I sure was having a great day huh?)…Putting SC back up by 17. At that point, it seemed all hope was lost…

As UCLA was driving toward a “possible” miracle, I head over to visit a buddy of mine who was seated in the SE corner of the upper end zone. Bjorn Merten would draw UCLA back within 2 scores with just under 7 minutes left. The SC fans in the south end zone, confident their 5 year losing streak was over, we’re chanting something about UCLA to the SC Band’s tune of Tusk…

As I returned to my seat in the NE corner of the endzone, UCLA would get the ball back and score a quick TD to pull them within 7 with just under 3 minutes to go…Some hope is still left…If we can recover the onside kick…Too bad it would go out of bounds…

After an SC first down, now inside 2 minutes, hope was all but gone for UCLA. One more first down and the 5 year streak would be over…Just as R.J. Soward proclaimed after putting his Men of Troy up by 17 earlier in the 4th…

Only a miracle would save UCLA…

Did I say only a miracle would save UCLA? As USC was trying to run out the clock, Kusanti Abdul-Salam would recover a LaValle Woods fumble! The Bruins would have new life! 

Inside a minute to go and the ball now at the SC 11 thanks to a huge 3rd down conversion to seldom used WR Rodney Lee, after an incomplete pass, the armchair QB in me tells the fans “GET THE BALL TO HICKS, LET HIM TAKE IT UP THE MIDDLE…” …

On 2nd and 10…” Hicks, up the middle…TOUCHDOWN UCLA !!!”

The Rose Bowl is in a frenzy. UCLA, who trailed for most of the game by as much as 17 had now tied the game at 38, capped off by that 10 yard run by Skip Hicks…A proud bearer of the number 42…The run that…Your’s Truly…Sitting a hundred yards away…Called

That’s one of the two TD’s this…And many other Bruin Faithful remember from Skip Hicks…

With everyone at The Rose Bowl on their feet since about the halfway point in the 4th, SC, however, would threaten. The final seconds of regulation would come down to a last-second 41 yard FG attempt by Adam Abrams. As SC was getting set to end their 5 year skid, I, along with 80,000 souls in The Rose Bowl, was yelling perhaps the loudest I could ever. Adam Abrams attempt at glory…BLOCKED !!! OVERTIME WE GO !!!

1996 would be the first year college football would have an overtime. During the first OT neither team could do much, both exchanging field goals. So now, the second OT…

UCLA would get the ball first…On the first play form scrimmage, Skip Hicks would take the handoff from Cade McNown. For a moment, it seemed a USC defender had Hicks wrapped up. Somehow, Hicks broke loose…Break loose he did…Just like that, UCLA would have their first lead of the day…As for the Hicks TD, where would it finish?

HICKS TD

All the way back and beyond the NE corner of the end zone. The fan just above Hicks to his right in the blue and yellow hat? Yup, you guessed it ! (Thank You YouTube !!!)

Other players and fans joined in the celebration…A celebration that seemed like an eternity! Game over right? Uh, not yet…

SC would get their turn with the ball and on 3rd and 3, spotting a UCLA blitz, Koffler would find a wide open RJ Soward…Nothing but grass ahead of him en route toward, yet again, the NE corner of the end zone and a possible taunt fest with us Bruin Faithful…If only he caught the ball…

Soward, who would have a record setting day for USC…Soward, BOASTING the 5 year skid was over…Did what so many wide receivers tend to do…Turn up field before securing the football ( To today’s UCLA’s receivers, take note…)

Now 4th down, USC was now in a do or die situation. Convert and their still alive. Otherwise, the streak continues…And on what would be the final play of the game, Matt Koffler’s floating duck, and I DO mean floating, flailed into the waiting arms of Anthony Cobbs.

BALLGAME !!! UCLA 48 USC 41

After trailing for much of the game, UCLA would mount a furious comeback, capped off by that miracle run by Skip Hicks. 30 minutes after the final play, we the Bruin Faithful we’re still in a frenzy…

As for me, in my “youthful innocence”, as I was still caught up in the Blue and Gold frenzy along the venerable Rose Bowl concourse, I just could not help but bellow out my version of Tusk…Even yelling out U-C-L-A…Daring the defeated Trojan Nation to yell out what they yelled during the 6 minute mark in the 4th. Nothing doing…

I ain’t gonna lie. There are plenty of emotions involved in this game from all involved. Students, fans, lifetime alums. Do I still get worked up for this game? You bet I do. Would I still be able to act the fool that I did 20 years ago? Uh, not entirely. At 42, a popular number from Westwood to The Ravine, it doesn’t quite come off the same…

42_UCLA Quad

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I also remember yelling ” I’VE STILL NEVER LOSS TO SC, I DON’T EVER WANT TO KNOW THE FEELING OF LOSING TO SC !!!…”

Well, that feeling is long gone now, the experience being far too frequent now.

” Skip Hicks holds the UCLA school record for touchdowns in a season and in a career, but most people seem to only remember two of them.”

Oh yeah, as for that 2nd TD, while many Bruins fans will forever remember, this Bruin fan will forever have it etched in his heart…

DREI_SKIP Kickin’ it with Skip Hicks, 2005. Other than Skip Hicks, and current linebacker Kenny Young, who will be the last Bruin to wear 42, some other Bruin that wore 42 would eventually wear another shade of blue as a MLB player…I wonder how he turned out…

Drei’s Prediction…

Drei is going with his heart once again. SC is a 12 1/2 point favorite. They just may be playing the best football in the Pac 12 right now. UCLA has struggled this season. UCLA is going with a backup QB in Mike Fafaul. Does Mike duplicate what John Barnes did for the Sons of Westwood in 1992. Can UCLA’s D keep it close enough to give them a chance in the 4th quarter. As they say in these rivalry games, throw out the record books…Anything can happen… UCLA 24 USC 23

Overtime…

As for Drei’s favorite SC-UCLA moment…20 Years Ago…Here it is, in it’s entirety…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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