Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 1967: O.J. Simpson and the Trojans Knock Off UCLA

On November 18, 1967, USC running back O.J. Simpson led the Trojan to a 21-20 victory over the #1 ranked UCLA Bruin at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. The juice broke loose in the fourth quarter with a 64 yard touchdown run that would ruin UCLA's bid for an undefeated season and automatically punched a ticket to the Rose Bowl for the team from Southern Cal. It also put them in contention for the national title which they would go onto win. The Trojans came into the game ranked fourth in the country, Simpson and Bruins quarterback Gary Beban were the frontrunners for the Heisman and if there was ever a game that had instant classic written on it before the ball was snapped it might have been this one. The Bruins struck first with a 12 yard touchdown run by running back Greg Jones that gave them an early 7-0 lead. Beban took over and had the Bruins driving down the field until he made a crucial mistake. After a quick fake to the right, he threw a blind pass to his left, and USC linebacker Pat Cashman picked it off and took it to the house to tie the ballgame up at 7 all. After UCLA failed to convert on a field goal try, USC drove it to the 13 then put it in the hands of Simpson who dragged defenders with him as he scored the go ahead touchdown. The score was 14-7 USC at the half and the best was yet to come. Beban came back in the third quarter and connected on a 53 yard bomb to George Farmer that knotted the score at 14. The Bruins had their chances to take a lead as beban drove them into field goal range twice and twice they were denied by blocked attempts. The USC defense was also taking a toll on the Heisman hopeful, several times throughout the game he had to be helped off the field but like a true warrior he kept coming right back knowing that the undefeated season was on the line. Beban finally was able to break the tie with a touchdown pass to Dave Nutall. However, the kicking game didn't get any better for Zenon Andrusyshyn who had already had two of his field goals blocked by a 6 foot 8 lineman by the name of Bill Hayhoe. Hayhoe probably haunted Andrusyshyn after this game, he came up big again by getting a piece of the extra point that sailed wide right. It would prove to be a pivotal moment after O.J. scored on the most memorable play of the game. With just 10:38 left in regulation the Trojans were facing a 3rd and 7 on their own 36. Backup quarterback Toby Page stepped to the line and saw that the bruins were in a pass defense and quickly called an audible that would put the rock in O.J.'s hands. It was a good call. Simpson exploded around the left end then cut back to the middle as he outran each and every UCLA defender. The USC defense stood tall and the Trojans were headed to the Rose Bowl.

2 comments: