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Big Ten Expansion: Michigan State Spartans versus UCLA Bruins

With the Big Ten adding two new members in 2024, what does MSU’s history look like against these opponents?

UCLA v Michigan State Brian Blanco/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Unless you have been living under a rock the last several weeks and just climbed out from under it to read this first column in a new series, you are aware that the Big Ten Conference is officially expanding once again when the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans join the league in August of 2024. That surprise and shocking announcement broke on June 30.

With that in mind, Michigan State fans might be interested to know what the new members bring to the table in terms of history against the Spartans. After taking a look at that history, not just in the two major revenue sports of football and men’s basketball, but also a few other select major non-revenue sports between UCLA/USC and MSU, I will also take a look at what some of the other future potential expansion candidates from the Pac-12 and ACC look like exclusively in terms of their history against the Spartans. That will be more limited in scope to just the two revenue sports, however.

So without further ado, to start the series, let’s take a deep dive into the record books when it comes to Michigan State versus the University of California, Los Angeles.


Michigan State is 3-3 in football versus UCLA. The series is split evenly in almost every way as well in that three matchups were part of the Rose Bowl game, while the other three are on campus. Additionally, MSU won the first three games, but is currently riding an active three-game losing streak.

The margin of victory does tilt incredibly lopsided, however. UCLA holds that edge with a 56-14 victory in the most recent meeting between the programs, a 1974 home game for the Bruins. The Spartans’ largest margin of victory was a 13-3 win at home in East Lansing.

Compared to the rest of the Big Ten, MSU is tied for the seventh most games played against UCLA, alongside Penn State and Northwestern. NU is also 3-3, but PSU trails 2-4. Nebraska holds the record for most games against the Bruins at 13 (7-6), while neither Rutgers nor Indiana have ever played UCLA. Michigan holds the highest win percentage in the league against the Bruins at 72 percent (8-11), while Purdue is 0-3-2 all-time against them. Alongside Nebraska and Michigan, Minnesota is the only other program with a winning record against UCLA (2-1).

The full series history of Michigan State versus UCLA is below:

MSU-UCLA All-Time Football Series

Date Season Location Field Score
Date Season Location Field Score
9/28/1974 1974 Pasadena, Calif. Away L 14 - 56
9/29/1973 1973 East Lansing, Mich. Home L 21 - 34
1/1/1966 1965 Pasadena, Calif. Neutral L 12 - 14
9/18/1965 1965 East Lansing, Mich. Home W 13 - 3
1/2/1956 1955 Pasadena, Calif. Neutral W 17 - 14
1/1/1954 1953 Pasadena, Calif. Neutral W 28 - 20

Besides the head-to-head competition, UCLA claims the following program achievements:

  • 613-444-37 All-time record (38th in FBS)
  • 1 National Championship
  • 17 Conference Championships
  • 36 Bowl game appearances (16-19-1 record)
  • 41 Consensus All-Americans
  • 1 Heisman winner
  • 333 NFL Draft picks (15th in FBS)
  • 537 Weeks in AP Poll (seven at No. 1)

By comparison, Michigan State claims the following:

  • 721-472-44 All-time record (26th in FBS)
  • 6 National Championships
  • 9 Conference Championships
  • 30 Bowl game appearances (14-16-0 record)
  • 32 Consensus All-Americans
  • 0 Heisman winners
  • 319 NFL Draft picks (16th in FBS)
  • 416 Weeks in AP Poll (29 at No. 1)

Men’s Basketball

What a coincidence, Michigan State’s men’s basketball team is also 3-3 against UCLA all-time. However, this series is much more recent in its all-time history and less evenly distributed in win order.

UCLA hosted Michigan State at the front end of a home-and-home series on Dec. 20, 2003 for the first meeting between the two programs, besting Tom Izzo’s squad by a final score of 64-58 on the Bruins’ home court. The following year, MSU repaid the favor in a 76-64 win at the Breslin Center on Dec. 21, 2004. MSU owns the only winning streak in the series, thanks to wins on Nov. 22, 2018 on a neutral court in Las Vegas and then again on a neutral court a year later on Nov. 27, 2019 in Lahaina, Hawaii. The Vegas victory is the largest win margin in the series as well, 87-67.

The teams have also faced off twice in the NCAA Tournament, both games coming a decade apart in 2011 and 2021 with the Bruins besting the Spartans both times.

You can find the full series history below:

MSU-UCLA All-Time Basketball Series

Date Season Location Field Score
Date Season Location Field Score
3/18/2021 2020-21 West Lafayette, IN Neutral L 80-86 (OT)
11/27/2019 2019-20 Lahaina, HI Neutral W 75-62
11/22/2018 2018-19 Las Vegas, NV Neutral W 87-67
3/17/2011 2010-11 Tampa, FL Neutral L 76-78
12/21/2004 2004-05 East Lansing, Mich. Home W 76-64
12/20/2003 2003-04 Los Angeles, CA Away L 58-64

As for the two storied programs all-time achievements and how they stack up against one another, here you have it.


  • 11 National Championships (seven consecutive from 1963-1973)
  • 18 Final Four appearances (10 consecutive from 1967-1976)
  • 49 NCAA Tournament appearances
  • 37 Conference Championships
  • 4 Conference Tournament Championships

Michigan State:

  • 2 National Championships
  • 10 Final Four appearances
  • 35 NCAA Tournament appearances (Including active 24-straight appearances)
  • 16 Conference Championships
  • 6 Conference Tournament Championships

Women’s Basketball

Michigan State’s women’s basketball team has faced UCLA just once in the program’s history, and came away victorious. The lone win came on Dec. 19, 2003 at UCLA in a 47-43 victory. If you want to know more about the only “sloppy” matchup, be sure to take a read of the game recap here.


The volleyball team has faced UCLA three times overall, holding a 1-2 mark all-time. The teams met for the first time Sept. 8, 2000 during the regular season on a neutral court (at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana) for the Adidas Invitation. MSU fell 1-3 in that matchup, but came just a few points shy in a NCAA Tournament rematch on UCLA’s home court that December. Michigan State lost to 11th-ranked UCLA in five sets, coming up just short at 7-15, 15-13, 16-14, 6-15 and 9-15.

The only other, and most recent, matchup was also in Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles as part of the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Dec. 1 of that year. The Spartans emerged victorious in a 3-1 match, scoring 25-17, 29-27, 18-25 and 25-22.


The Michigan State baseball team is 0-4 all-time against UCLA. The series is young in age, dating between Feb. 27, 2015 (three-game series) for the first-ever meeting through Mar. 3, 2018 (single game) for the most recent matchup. The teams faced off in Los Angeles in 2015 with MSU falling 2-14 in the opening game on Feb. 27 and then getting shutout on Feb. 28 in a 0-5 loss. The final game was a five-inning matchup on March 1 that saw the Spartans fall 1-4.

The only other meeting in series history was in Minneapolis on March 3, 2018. That Dairy Queen Classic/B1G-Pac 12 Challenge at U.S. Bank Stadium was a 1-4 loss.


The Spartans’ softball program has just a shade more success against the Bruins than the baseball team, holding a 1-4 all-time mark. The teams first met on May 17, 2003 in the NCAA Regional in Fresno, California. MSU then fell by a score of 2-6 and again the next day by a score of 0-5.

The teams met again in 2007 at the Palm Springs Invitational in Palm Springs, California with UCLA taking the 8-0 win on Feb. 23.

The only home matchup in the series came on March 7, 2012 in a 6-15 loss for the Spartans visiting UCLA on a spring break road trip. The programs last met March 9, 2018 on a neutral field in Long Beach, California. Michigan State finally notched the win, taking a decisive 10-0 victory in five innings.


The programs have never faced off in either men’s or women’s soccer.