LOS ANGELES, NOV. 21 -- In a city where the arch rival is across town and the enemy is sometimes as close as one's mother or father, today's game between UCLA and USC meant everything: bragging rights, the Pac-10 championship, top recruits, and for the first time in nine years a trip to the Rose Bowl was at stake for both teams.

It had all the ingredients for one those TV thrillers so often filmed in this glitter town-a beautiful location, gratuitous violence, good guys, bad guys (depending on your team) but most of all the winner got the lady -- the Grand Old Lady known as the Rose Bowl.

And like most times when these two teams meet, this one lived up to its headline billing as the USC Trojans scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Bruins, 17-13.

Despite a dismal first-half performance by the Trojans (8-3), with critical turnovers and penalties that caused two touchdowns to be called back, they never lost their intensity. They had another touchdown voided in the third quarter.

"I thought the first half we stunk up the place," Trojans quarterback Rodney Peete said. "But at half Coach {Larry} Smith came in jumping up and down and said we could win. We never let up."

Peete played the leading role for USC, completing 23 of 35 passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns. But it was his defensive play which might have saved the game.

With less than 2:30 left in the first half, USC failed on two separate first-and-goal attempts to put any points on the board. The first attempt ended with a fumble on the 1-yard line and the other was foiled when safety Eric Turner intercepted Peete's toss and ran it 86 yards until he was brought down by the quarterback as time expired.

"The last play of the first half was the hidden big play of the game, a score would have made a big difference," Smith said. UCLA went into the locker room leading by 10-0.

The biggest play of the game also was the most controversial. Halfway through the fourth quarter with Southern California down by three, Peete passed into the end zone to Erik Affholter, who appeared to juggle the ball while he went out of bounds. The official ruled it a completion and USC took the lead.

"The TD pass wasn't designed my way," Affholter said. "All I wanted to do was clear my man out of the zone. I saw it at the last minute and pulled it down . . . I knew it was a score."

Supporting Peete in the victory was a defense that came up with the plays when it needed them by pressuring Bruins quarterback Troy Aikman and forcing him to throw three interceptions.

"Defensively we made a commitment to go after Aikman," said Smith. "We didn't think we could give him much time." They didn't. Aikman completed 11 of 26 passes for 171 yards.

"We weren't at the top of our game today and, to win this game, you have to be," UCLA Coach Terry Donahue said. "We haven't thrown interceptions all year and today we threw three. USC had a good pass rush and I didn't feel we did a very good job of protecting Troy today.

"You're ahead, but you feel it slipping away, slipping away and finally it slips away. We kind of self destructed."

Although Heisman Trophy candidate Gaston Green had 138 yards for UCLA and a terrific second-effort touchdown run for the game's first score, the Trojans neutralized him in the second half allowing him just 41 yards.

The Trojans' star tailback, Steven Webster, went out of the game early in the second quarter with an injured left knee. He will undergo arthroscopic surgery today to determine the extent of the injury.

The Trojans will face Michigan State Jan. 1 in the Rose Bowl. Earlier this season, USC lost to the Spartans, 27-13.

The Trojans lead 31-19-6 in this emotional series, the only one in the nation with two major football powers in the same city. With today's loss, the Bruins will go to the Aloha bowl.

UCLA 7 3 3 0 13 USC 0 0 3 14 17

UCLA -- Green 6 run (Velasco kick)

UCLA -- FG Velasco 32

UCLA -- FG Velasco 38

USC -- FG Rodriguez 26

USC -- Tanner 6 pass from Peete (Rodriguez kick)

USC -- Affholter 33 pass from Peete (Rodriguez kick)

A -- 92,516

UCLA USC First downs 17 23 Rushes-yards 38-145 42-100 Passing yards 171 304 Return yards 89 68 Passing 11-26-3 23-35-1 Punts-average 4-45 5-35 Fumbles-lost 3-1 2-1 Penalties-yards 7-65 6-55 Tim

RUSHING -- UCLA: G. Green 30-138, Mel Farr 2-9, Ball 1-2, Primus 1-0, Aikman 4-minus 4. Southern Cal: Webst

PASSING -- UCLA: Aikman 11-26-3, 171 yards. Southern Cal: Peete 23-35-1, 304.

RECEIVING -- UCLA: Anderson 4-88, Craig 2-37, Mike Farr 2-25, Arbuckle 2-15, Mel Farr 1-5. Southern Cal: Af