The rivalry game between No. 16 UCLA Bruins and No. 7/6 USC will be a historic matchup as both teams have a Black starting quarterback. This is the first time in the history of the rivalry game that two Black quarterbacks—Caleb Williams of USC and Dorian Thompson-Robinson of UCLA—will battle against each other.
“It’s always cool and definitely a blessing as an African American male to play this position,” Thompson-Robinson said. “But to definitely have two in the big game, playing both high-level football is definitely special.”
Williams is the first starting quarterback for USC since 1991 when Reggie Perry led the Trojan offense.
“That was one of the first things that I was told, there hasn’t been a Black quarterback here in a really long time,” Williams said. “It’s really cool, really awesome, it’s still the same thing as another [quarterback] going out there.”
This will be Thompson-Robinson’s fifth UCLA vs USC game while it will be the first for Williams. Thompson-Robinson is close to surpassing former Bruin Black quarterback Brett Hundley in several all-time categories including total offensive yards, touchdowns and passing yards. He is 2-2 in rivalry games with the hope that the team will top their 62-33 triumph from last season.
“We got to go out there on Saturday and do the best we can to win this game,” Thompson-Robinson said.
The 23-year-old Thompson-Robinson is ranked third in completion percentage with .710. This season, he has 2385 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes along with 463 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Williams is a Heisman candidate who is third in FBS in touchdown passes with 31. He is also on the verge of having the lowest rate of interceptions in a season, he is currently at 0.6 percent. This season, Williams has 3010 passing yards and 31 touchdown passes as well as 283 rushing yards for six touchdown rushes.
Williams made waves last year during the Oklahoma Sooners’ rivalry game against the Texas Longhorns, spearheading a comeback victory. Despite all the blaring noise that comes with the USC vs UCLA game, William treats it as any other game.
“When you start to try to ramp up things, when you start trying to do things that you haven’t normally done … bad things start to happen,” Williams said. “One of the first things that we talked about as a group and as a team is focusing on us.”
Throughout history, the quarterback position was privy to White players at the college and professional levels on the premise that Black players lack the intellect to lead an offense. Even as Black players began securing starting quarterback opportunities, it came with pushback and challenges.
In the mid-1970s, Trojans fans disapproved of Vince Evans being a starting quarterback for USC. In 1991, former UCLA quarterback Bert Emmanuel chose to transfer to Rice University after gaining minimal playing time with the Bruins.
Both Thompson-Robinson and Williams stand on the shoulders of many great Black quarterbacks in the history of college football, including Andre Ware, Vince Young, and Michael Vick.
UCLA will battle against USC on Saturday, November 19 at 5:00P.M.