Bruin blaze or Trojan inferno? (There is a wrong answer)

We all know the eternal, never-ending rivalry between UCLA and USC. However, not everyone knows how the rivalry started. I know we all want to skip those history GEs, so in lieu of a gigantic history lecture let’s jump to the minutes of the meeting.

It was 1929, the first National Championship, and USC crushed UCLA 128-0. After a brief hiatus, the rivalry started again in 1936. In 1941, USC stole the victory bell gifted to UCLA by the Alumni Association. In subsequent years, whoever won painted it either blue or red. 1942 marked the first victory against USC and we got our bell back (Go Bruins)! 1967 saw the biggest game in history, a true nail-biter from which USC emerged victorious. However, the 1990’s saw a decline in USC’s championship.

Did that kindle a fire yet? Was your answer yes? Wrong – your answer should be “our fire was kindled before we even knew the reason for the rivalry.” Come on, what kind of Bruin are you? I threw away my red jacket as soon as I found out we hated USC (just kidding, and we don’t hate you, Trojans). Anyways, jokes aside, this rivalry has its perks.

It’s quite natural that when there is some competition, it always motivates us to do better. The same applies to colleges. Sure, the rivalry may sometimes seem belligerent at the surface level, but it is inadvertently helping UCLA to be better in terms of academia, sports, campus, etc. USC beating us at Football? Train our football players to obliterate USC next time. USC Graduates have a higher average GPA? Make UCLA classes more efficient, improve faculty training and create higher Latin honors cutoffs. In short, this kind of competitive environment only prompts us to do better. In fact, light-hearted badinage like the “University of Spoiled Children” (so true) and “University of Lousy Athletes” (so not true) is quite needed to stir up the fire at both colleges.

In all, I would say the competition is quite healthy (and the trash talk is real, so bring your A-game). The most interesting part of this rivalry is the pre-game traditions. In one year, USC painted our Bruin bear in red (hence the box you see around the statue sometimes, if you were wondering), and UCLA retaliated by painting the USC track with the letters ‘UCLA’ using blue and gold acrylic paints. Additionally, rallies before the games between these two colleges are not to be missed. The actual games are another edition of school spirit altogether – indubitably ardent and enthralling. The stadium is packed, tickets to the game are sold out and all of this is, of course, incomplete without both colleges indulging in whole-hearted verbal annihilation. And God help you if, by chance, you wear red for the match.

So, if you’ve never been to a UCLA vs USC game before, I hope this is persuasive enough for you to aggressively search for the upcoming games. In the felicitous words of Red Sanders, Bruin football coach, “USC-UCLA rivalry isn’t a matter of life or death: It’s more important than that.”

UCLA vs USC mascots in a video game. Illustration by Erin Park/BruinLife

UCLA vs USC mascots in a video game. Illustration by Erin Park/BruinLife

You may also like