There are 18 Saturdays between now and next football season. For every Saturday between now and the start of football season, I am going to write something about historical games.
Approximately 2408 Saturdays have passed since the first so-called game of the century took place since I have been following this game.
The year was 1967 and this was my first season to follow football, both college and the NFL. This was also the year of the famous Ice Bowl in which the Green Bay Packers edged out the Dallas Cowboys.
The previous season, 1966, featured #2 Michigan State vs #1 Notre Dame and the media was all over this one and it was a huge disappointment ending in a 10-10 tie with Notre Dame electing to not even try to score to end the game. The famous ‘Tie One for the Gipper’ game. I might want to call it ‘Bore One for the Gipper’.
Luckily, I was too young to remember that game.
Obviously, this rivalry had a lot of bad blood and the previous two years set this game up to be a possible classic.
In 1965 USC had a big lead and dominated the game, but turned the ball over 5 times. Sophomore QB Gary Beban led the team back for a win.
Mike Garrett won the Heisman trophy but the Trojans lost the Rose Bowl bid. Of course, that did not sit well with the USC Trojans.
In 66 USC was out for revenge and it looked good for them when now Junior Gary Beban injured his ankle and would have to miss the game. Back up QB Norman Dow came on and led the Bruins to an upset win, 14-7.
The Conference had a vote to elect the team to represent the conference and they voted USC into the Rose Bowl. Kind of a travesty, which would not be forgotten by either team.
1967 was a very important game for both teams. It was an inner city rivalry for one, and they hated each other. But, then it was for the conference championship as well. Both teams were ranked in the top 4 and winner would be national champion. The classic match up because UCLA was #1 and USC #2 in the coaches poll. In the AP poll, UCLA was #1 and USC was #4.
It was an early defensive struggle with the UCLA defense keeping the great Trojan Running Back OJ Simpson bottled up. The USC defense was all over Gary Beban as well. UCLA took a 7-0 lead but Beban injured his ribs on the drive. On the last play of the 1st period, Beban would throw a pick 6 to USC Defensive Back, Pat Cashman. It was tied up 7-7.
USC punts to UCLA had a big punt return and legend OJ Simpson makes a key tackle saving the TD. OJ saved the day as the UCLA All American kicker missed. It was to be a brutal day for the Bruin Kicker. </a>
Earl McCullouch, a speedster from the track team, had a huge gain for USC on an end around. He fumbled but it was fortunately recovered by teammate Mike Scarpace. Steve Sogge, the starting USC QB completed his only pass of the entire game on this drive. The ineffective Sogge was later replaced by Toby Page.
OJ had a tough 13 yard touchdown run off of left tackle. 14-7 Trojans take the lead.
UCLA comes storming back with a long pass by Beban. then Pat Cashman would be a defensive star again and hit Beban really hard on an outside run for a huge loss. Beban limped off and the field goal attempt was blocked by super sized USC giant, Bill Hayhoe.
14-7 USC at the half.
The second half would be one to remember and in the early 3rd quarter, Beban hits George Farmer on a 53 yard pass for a touchdown, tying the game at 14-14.
Late in the 3rd quarter, the Trojans forced to punt and it’s blocked. Beban hits a pass and then the 6 foot 8 inch giant Bill Hayhoe strikes again and sacks Beban for a 17 yard loss. Hayhoe then blocks the Field Goal attempt.
The 3rd quarter begins with new USC QB Toby Page throwing an interception to Andy Herrera. Beban then cooly took the Bruins down the field for a touchdown. The UCLA kicker had a really rough day and he missed the extra point.
Then. OJ had his famous 64 yard Touchdown run which showed what kind of talent he was at Running Back. Trojans make the extra point and were up, 21-20.
Jimmy Gunn, Tim Rossovich and other Trojans beat up Beban repeatedly and were in the backfield on every pass and sacked Beban to end the game.
Gary Beban did wind up throwing for 301 yards. O.J. Simpson ran for 177 on 30 carries. Simpson had an injured foot and had to wear a special shoe and 147 of his yards were in the 2nd half.
November 18th, 1967. One of the great games of all time. USC went on to win the National Championship beating Indiana in the Rose Bowl.
USC had OJ Simpson one of the all time great Running Backs regardless of his later activities. Whether he killed his wife and Ron Goldman or not, he was still a super talented Running Back and would win the Heisman Trophy in 1968 and rush for 11,000 yards in the NFL mostly with the Buffalo Bills.
Ron Yary was a star Offensive Tackle that is one of the best of all time and in the NFL Hall of Fame. He starred for the Minnesota Vikings for a number of years.
Bob Klein played Tight End for the Trojans and then 11 years in the NFL and was 6-5,230. Not impressive now, but it was back then.
Adrian Young played LB for USC and 7 years in the NFL.
Mike Taylor was an Offensive Tackle that played 6 years professionally.
Sid Smith played in the Offensive Line and played 5 years in the NFL.
Tim Rossovich was an All American Defensive End that played 7 years in the Pros and then had a movie career. He was college roommates with the famous Tom Selleck and the brother of more famous Rick Rossovich of Top Gun and other movie fame.
Earl McCullouch was a track star from the talent rich Long Beach Poly High School and played 7 years in the NFL. He was considered the second fastest man in the NFL behind Bullet Bob Hayes.
Mike Hull was the USC Fullback and he played 7 years in the League.
Bill Hayhoe was an absolute monster of a man at 6-8,260 that played Defensive End and then for the Packers for 6 years.
Jimmy Gunn played Outside Linebacker for the Trojans and then 8 years in the NFL.
Sandy Durko played 5 years in the Pros at Defensive Back.
Dennis Crane was a Defensive Tackle and he played 3 years in the NFL.
Mike Battle played 2 years in the Big Show after playing CB for USC.
UCLA had 3 guys drafted by the NFL and none of them were successful including Gary Beban.
Physically and on paper, this game was a mismatch. But, it turned into a classic with USC having to sack Gary Beban to end the game.
There have been many games labeled the Game of the Century and the 1967 game between the USC Trojans and cross town rival UCLA Bruins was the latest and one of the greatest. It’s been called the all time signature game in this series and I won’t argue that.
This was a hard hitting slug fest that went down to the wire and definitely lived up to all the hype. Everybody has their own opinion of the best college football game of all time and I won’t say this one was the very best. But, this game was awesome and no doubt the very best game in this great old rivalry game.