One person was stabbed in the cheek and the other was stabbed in the back during the melee some three hours before the crosstown-rivalry game between the Bruins and Trojans was set to start, Qualls said. Both were taken by ambulance to Huntington Memorial Hospital. He described their condition as stable.
One officer was treated for a sprained hand, the other for a sprained ankle, and both were released, Qualls said.
Two men who police believe stabbed the victims were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and were being held in Pasadena City Jail on $1 million bail, Qualls said. A third man was arrested for investigation of assault on a police officer, Qualls said.
The names of the victims and suspects were not immediately released.
It was not immediately clear what sparked the brawl, but police said the school rivalry and tailgate party drinking were major factors.
"The fans are pretty passionate about their football teams," Qualls said.
Qualls said that the last time the annual rivalry game was held at the Rose Bowl in 2008, there were about 50 arrests, but he didn't think any of them were for assault.
"It doesn't happen at normal college football games," he said.
The brawl occurred before most fans or either team had arrived at the Rose Bowl, but thousands of tailgating fans spent most of the day gathered around RVs or barbecues in quiet Arroyo Seco, waiting for the late kickoff dictated by television coverage.
UCLA's rivalry with USC is among the most intense in college football, pitting two schools separated by just 13 miles between USC's downtown campus and UCLA's Westwood address. The rivalry divides fans from every section of Los Angeles, sometimes even splitting families.
UCLA was overshadowed while the Trojans won seven straight Pac-10 titles during the past decade. Saturday's 80th meeting between the teams was for nothing but civic pride, with the Bruins failing to qualify for a bowl game and USC banned from the postseason by NCAA sanctions.