UCLA Football: The game that changed time travel and sports betting forever

4 Nov 2000: A general view of the UCLA Bruins helmet during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Bruins defeated the Cardinal 37-35. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kincaid /Allsport
4 Nov 2000: A general view of the UCLA Bruins helmet during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Bruins defeated the Cardinal 37-35. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kincaid /Allsport /

Back in 1955, the UCLA football team defeated Washington in a game that unknowingly changed the events of the future as time travel and sports betting helped fueled an egocentric agenda.

The date was November 12, 1955. Does that date sound familiar to UCLA football fans or 80s movie buffs? It should as it is the day the #4 Bruins defeated the Washington Huskies with a late-game field goal. It was also the date that Marty McFly altered the past for a more favorable present when he went back in time.

RELATED: UCLA Football – Post-Spring Depth Chart

Anyway, in 1985, the movie Back to the Future made its cinematic debut which shot the theory of time travel to the forefront of pop culture. For those that have not seen it (which is an atrocity), the movie centers around a “slacker” high schooler named Marty McFly and his eccentric scientist amigo, Dr. Emmett Brown, aka “Doc.”

More from Go Joe Bruin

Doc creates a time machine out of a sports car by the now-defunct company, DeLorean. When meeting Doc in the Twin Pines Mall parking lot (which was shot at the Puente Hills Mall in Industry,  CA, about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles) in the middle of the night, the mad scientist unveils his top-secret project.

After a successful first attempt in time travel where Doc sends his dog, Einstein, one minute into the future, the two are attacked by Libyans. These terrorists have been searching for Doc who stole plutonium from them which helps power the time machine. Marty runs for cover in the DeLorean, but Doc is not as lucky as he is gunned down by the Libyans.

Marty outruns the terrorists but forgets that when the car hits 88 mph, the flux capacitor (the single piece of equipment that makes time travel possible, duh) is activated and sends him back to 1955. Long story short, in the week he spent in 1955, Marty changes the past, sets up a better life for his family and invents rock and roll in the process. Oh, 80s movies!

As it turns out, Marty prevents the death of Doc which allows for more adventures to ensue. Hence, we have Back to the Future, Part II. Here is where we get into the heart of this particular article. In BTTF2, the 1985 Doc, Marty and Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer, head to the future (2015) to help the future McFlys escape tragedy. Whilst in the future, Marty discovers a book, Gray’s Sports Almanac, which has the results of every major sporting event through the end of the 20th Century.

Before I move on, I want to point out a hilariously confusing article from The Ringer, Speaking of ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ ‘Back to the Future Part 2’ Is a Sham, as it strikes down the fallacy of success in sports betting in BTTF2, which in turn creates theories about time travel in the latest Avengers movie. Although The RInger’s article primarily focuses on how small the almanac is (they argue that it should be an encyclopedic-like book around 8,000 pages and not the quick-read Marty discovers), it got me thinking about time travel. And of course, UCLA, which I will soon connect to this article. Just relax.

Anyway, Marty purchases said book with the plan of going back in time and making a few potentially lucrative bets. But much to the chagrin of Doc, Marty disposes of it after Doc talks about the dangers of changing the past, or future, or whatever. In the next moment, the antagonist Biff Tannen, who is old and gray at this point (and as The Ringer points out, why would the McFlys still hang around this man that has brought nothing but grief to the family since 1955?), finds the book, steals the DeLorean, and heads back in time to November 12, 1955. This was the date lightning struck the Hill Valley clock tower which helped Doc send Marty back to his own time in part one of this time-travel saga. It was also the date that changed time travel, sports betting and the comedic references in modern superhero movies forever.

Now, this is where UCLA football comes into play. If it weren’t for the Bruins kicking a late-game field goal to beat Washington, 19-17, time travel would not have been so wonderfully convoluted, in the BTTF world and our world.

Here is what I mean. When old Biff goes back to meet up with his 1955 self and give young Biff the sports almanac, the smartass teenager, who doesn’t respect authority (not even his grandma) belittles and mocks 2015 Biff.

It is not until 2015 Biff turns on the radio and finds the end of the broadcast of the UCLA football game against Washington that he is finally able to convince 1955 Biff of the power he holds in his hands. Old Biff looks through the book and tells young Biff that UCLA will win, 19-17, even after the announcers stated that UCLA would lose, 17-16.

Old Biff: Bet you a million bucks UCLA wins it, 19 to 17.

Young Biff: What are you deaf, old man? He just said it was over. You lost!

That is when old Biff turns the volume up on the radio, just in time to hear the announcers call the game-winning score by kicker Jim Decker. This makes a believer out of young Biff and begins his long successful journey as a gambler, which tragically alters the timeline that Marty, Doc, and Jennifer know in “their” 1985. In the new 1985, Biff runs Hill Valley, which turns from All-American town to a small-time Sin City.

What this also did, in our world, was convolute the theory of time travel in cinematic and popular culture. Since 1985, movies, TV shows, comics, etc. have tried to tackle the complex nature of cause and effect in time travel. Not only have questions arisen about how one should compose themselves when traveling through time, but BTTF2 was also a blueprint of how not to act when messing with time travel, as Ant-Man and Iron Man discuss in the recently released Avengers: Endgame.

Previously, it was thought that if one goes back in time, interacting with one’s self could provoke a chain of events that could reach catastrophic proportions and adversely affect one’s future. In Endgame, they snidely debunk that myth with the Hulk stating that even if you go back in time, you can’t change the future, no matter what craziness you get into. Is that relevant to this article? Not at all.

UCLA Bruins Football
UCLA Bruins Football /

UCLA Bruins Football

But all of this happens because the UCLA football team was able to get a win against Washington. This led to the Bruins beating USC the following week, helping to give them a bid to play in the Rose Bowl on January 2, 1956. Unfortunately, the Bruins lost to #2 Michigan State, 17-14.

Now imagine what would happen if someone would have used that DeLorean to affect the events of that Rose Bowl Game somehow. I’m not saying; I’m just saying.

So what was the point of this article? It was not to warn you of the dangers of alternate timelines and cheating in gambling. It was merely to introduce a new series I will be starting on Go Joe Bruin (and admittedly, this was also a chance to geek out on science fiction, the new Avengers movie and the complex nature of time travel).

“The UCLA Time Machine.” In this new series, I will go back in time and try to right the wrongs of past Bruin mistakes that could have changed the world forever.

For example, what would have happened if someone warned the 1998 UCLA football team of their fate with a hurricane? What if Ben Howland started Lorenzo Mata alongside Kevin Love during that 2007-08 season? How far would the UCLA football team go if Myles Jack wasn’t used as a running back in that Arizona State game in 2013?

Next. The 30 Greatest UCLA Football Players of All-Time. dark

These are the question I will answer all summer long so stay tuned. Or if you have a DeLorean with a flux capacitor, you can head into the future and read it then. I don’t know; it’s up to you.