All second-ranked USC needed to do to punch its ticket to the 2007 BCS National Championship Game was defeat crosstown rival UCLA for the eighth straight year. Having defeated three straight ranked opponents — No. 21 Oregon, No. 17 Cal and No. 6 Notre Dame — by a combined 102–43 score, the unranked Bruins seemed like a small hurdle to clear.
What USC didn’t anticipate was a superhuman effort by the UCLA defense, who held the high-scoring Trojans to 329 yards of total offense, including just 55 on the ground.
The Bruins’ heroic effort was capped by a stunning interception by LB Eric McNeal on the Trojans’ final drive. A converted safety, the senior from nearby Carson tipped USC QB John David Booty’s pass at the line of scrimmage, spun around and caught the ball before it hit the Rose Bowl turf.
That 13–9 shocker was the last time UCLA has beaten its archrival. McNeal, who is currently living and working in his hometown at SoCal Pump and Supply, LLC, will be watching Saturday to see if his Bruins can tip the balance of power in LA back in their direction. Eric McNeal profile