Football

USC and UCLA fans spoke their minds ahead of the Crosstown Showdown

Hours before the rivalry game, USC and UCLA fans tailgate outside of the Rose Bowl.

The picture is of the Rose Bowl.

Los Angeles is known for its rivalries, from the Lakers versus Clippers to the Angels versus the Dodgers. But nothing beats the USC and UCLA rivalry, which dates back to 1929.

The first reported prank that sparked the rivalry was when USC students stole a 295-pound bell from UCLA, according to USC Athletics. Each year the Victory Bell is given to the winning team.

With over 75,000 fans attending the game last Saturday, there were many tailgates outside of the stadium before kickoff.

A diehard USC fan was waiting for the Rose Bowl Stadium’s gates to open. The white-haired man, a USC alumnus, wore a red button up. His son said his dad, Gary Blasiar, has been a fan of USC for over 50 years and graduated in 1974.

“It’s one of the best rivalries you could possibly have with two Crosstown teams,” Blasiar said. “UCLA is going to lose.”

Starting around 11 a.m., older fans of both teams already had their USC and UCLA tents hanging above their heads in Jackie Robinson Memorial Field.

In one area, there was a display of about 50 stuffed animals — Bruin Bears. The UCLA fan said it is their 37th year being a ticket holder for UCLA football and collected bears ever since.

As the sounds of the UCLA band practicing the National Anthem faded by Jackie Robinson Memorial Field, younger crowds headed to the parking lot at the Rose Bowl. The stadium was filled with students, big families, rap music and lots of barbecue.

Three college students were walking through UCLA’s tailgates to find USC’s. The three were representing USC by wearing red shirts that read “FUCLA” and “Don’t BRUIN Your Life.” Lily Leonard, Makkonen Haile and Michael Saccone voiced their hatred for the Bruins.

If Saconne had the opportunity to tell UCLA one thing, he would say, “Get your own stadium.”

Leonard and Haile hollered in excitement over Saconne’s dig against UCLA.

UCLA students weren’t holding back from the heated rivalry. The Bruins’ student section chanted about how much they despise USC throughout the tailgate.

In front of the Rose Bowl, a USC fan with a red sweater tied around his neck and sunglasses covering his eyes was buying a watermelon-flavored ice cream. Next to him was a woman with a black jersey and “Epps 19″ written on the back.

Michelle and Wisley Epps, the parents of redshirt senior tight end Malcolm Epps, traveled from Houston, Texas to watch their son play against UCLA.

“I am super duper excited, peacock proud, too excited to watch our son play,” Michelle Epps said.

The Epps offered words of advice to their son.

“Go hard or go home,” Wisley Epps said.

“We love you,” Michelle Epps said. “Play hard just like you always do, son and fight on.”

But there was a couple who was sitting away from the tailgaters, Frederick Carr and his wife Christine. The married couple had a picnic set up in front of a gate facing the entrance of the Rose Bowl.

The Carrs were eating cubed cheese and wine in their lawn chairs as they were “people watching.” Frederick’s silver fox hair shined in the light as he wore a baby blue UCLA button up with a white long-sleeve. Christine wore a navy blue UCLA zip-up sweater, which matched the color of her eyes.

They have been attending UCLA games for 52 years.

“UCLA breaks your heart so many times, you can’t get your hopes up,” Frederick Carr said. “It’s like Charlie Brown with the football. I’m always optimistic when kicking the football, but usually I’m disappointed.”

While studying for a master’s degree in journalism at UCLA in the 1970s, Christine said she enjoyed seeing “crude” comments on USC shirts.

“When I went here, I would see shirts that said, ‘My maid went to UCLA,’” Christine Carr said. “I am seeing less crude shirts now than I did before.”

For the game itself, the veteran UCLA fan, Frederick, believed the final score would be 54-28 with USC defeating UCLA.

The 92nd meeting between the L.A. teams had Pac-12 title game implications. If the Bruins would have scored another touchdown in the fourth quarter, UCLA and USC would have been tied with conference records of 8-2.

The game ended with USC beating UCLA by three points, 48-45. And with the win, USC avoided the tiebreaker drama and punched its ticket to the Pac-12 championship game.

The Trojans last chance to enjoy quality time, loud music and barbecue will take place before the home game versus Notre Dame on Saturday, November 26.