A history of Texas and USC through the years

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Photo Credit: Matt Norris | Daily Texan Staff

The long-awaited rematch between Texas and USC is back. 

The No. 22 Trojans will come into Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium this Saturday for the second game of a home-and-home series with the Longhorns. Many fans are quick to call this a rivalry because of the famous 2006 National Championship Game in Pasadena, California, but the two teams have only met four other times prior to the matchup that many have deemed “The greatest college football game ever played.”

Here’s a look at the Texas-USC all-time series from 1955–present:

1955: USC 19, Texas 7

In their first ever meeting, No. 9 USC played host to a struggling Texas team. The Longhorns, 1–2 at this point, traveled to Los Angeles and were simply out-muscled. USC struck first late in the first quarter and late in the second to take a two possession lead. The Trojans shut out the Longhorns in the first half, going into the break up 13-0. 

Texas answered back midway through the third quarter with a touchdown drive resulting from a turnover, one of three for USC on the day. Just two minutes later, USC responded and put the game on ice. Gordon Duvall, who ran in the first touchdown of the day, caught a 30-yard touchdown pass and sealed the deal. 

 

1956: USC 44, Texas 20

Their next meeting came with a change of scenery but not a change of result. The Longhorns put the first points on the board at home after a 36-yard touchdown run from Joe Clement. From that point on, it was all USC. Led by C.R. Roberts, USC scored 38 unanswered points. Roberts, in that stretch, had three 50-yard touchdown runs. 

USC proved to be the more physical team, running for over 400 yards and gaining 17 first downs on the ground. Once again, Texas left the game under .500.

 

1966: USC 10, Texas 6

A decade later, the two met again in Austin. This time, USC didn’t display an offensive clinic. Texas, once again coming into the game under .500, held their ground with No. 9 USC in a tightly-contested defensive battle. 

USC marched down the field late in the first quarter on a 15-play, 74-yard drive. The Longhorns were able to defend the goal-line and force a field goal. USC scored on a touchdown run with two minutes left in the second quarter. 

Right before halftime, Texas blocked a field goal that would have put the Trojans up by 13. Texas continued the high defensive intensity in the third, keeping USC scoreless. Then, at the start of the fourth, Texas’ sophomore quarterback Bill Bradley, ran in a touchdown from three yards out and put Texas right back in the game. However, as stingy as the Longhorns were throughout the game, the Trojans were just as stingy and held on for the rest of the game to capture the win. 

 

1967: USC 17, Texas 13

The 1967 meeting had the most potential out of the matchups to this point, being that this time both were ranked. No. 5 Texas once again had to go to the Los Angeles Coliseum and play No. 9 USC. Both teams played a fairly even game, scoring once through the air and on the ground. In the end, the Trojans pulled out a close win.

The Longhorns had chances to score with the help of great field position and couldn’t capitalize. Texas’ defense recovered two USC fumbles and the special teams unit had 366 punt returns yards during the contest. However, after the opening drive, Texas wasn’t able to score again until the fourth quarter. Thus, going down 0–4 to USC all-time.

 

2006: Texas 41, USC 38

As Texas and USC steamrolled through their respective schedules, the Longhorns and Trojans set themselves up for a No. 1-versus-No. 2 heavyweight matchup in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4, 2006. The two best teams in college football, led by Vince Young and Matt Leinart, quickly found themselves in a back-and-forth affair. 

The Longhorns were down 12 points with less than seven minutes remaining in the game until a touchdown by Young and a crucial stop by Texas’ defense gave the Longhorns one last shot to take the lead. It would come down to a fourth-and-five play from USC’s nine-yard line. Young dropped back, stood in the pocket, then sprinted for the front corner of the endzone, scoring the championship-winning touchdown. The result ended the Trojans’ 34-game winning streak and any hopes of winning their third-consecutive title. 

 

2017: USC 27, Texas 24 (2OT)

In the first matchup since the epic 2005 duel, Texas and USC did not disappoint. The first half was relatively underwhelming — until the final 30 seconds. USC quarterback Sam Darnold threw a pick six to DeShon Elliott with 19 seconds left. Then with five seconds left, he responded by finding a wide-open Ronald Jones II, who then took it 30 yards for a touchdown to close the half.

The second half largely resembled the first. Texas took the lead with 45 seconds left, only to have USC tie the game with a field goal as time expired. In the first overtime, they traded touchdowns. Texas called a QB run from the three-yard line. Then-freshman Sam Ehlinger had the ball stripped before he could reach the first down marker. USC recovered, kicked a 43-yard field goal and escaped the game, remaining undefeated as the No. 4 team in the country. 

 

2018: No. 22 USC at Texas, Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

Texas was only ranked in the fourth meeting. A 39-year gap passed before they met again. 

This matchup doesn’t have the bare minimum history behind to grant it rivalry status. Including last year’s game, these schools have only met twice in the past 50 years, and those two games were 12 years apart.

At this very moment, Texas only has one victory against USC. The only other statistics favoring the Longhorns are all-time wins (Texas is third to USC’s eighth) and all-time win percentage (Texas’ is 70.5 to USC’s 70.1).

It is an interesting matchup on paper regardless of the history. Both teams are at critical junctures in their season. The Trojans are coming off a loss to Pac-12 rival Stanford, and the Longhorns still invite questions about their ability after a one-possession win against Tulsa.

“Rivalry” is going to used a lot going into this matchup. Even after examination of the history accumulated by these schools, it is understandable why it is seen as a rivalry game. 

Both USC and Texas are programs that hold themselves among the college football elite. They pride themselves on being a gold standard for other programs in terms of winning and tradition. However, between the schools, only one additional national championship game appearance has been made since the 2006 Rose Bowl. 

For programs who have not lived up to expectations, when they play each other, it is a reminder to both schools and fan bases what it looked and felt like the last time they were on top. It reminds them what it feels like to be the center of attention of the college football world. 

On Saturday, for the first time since 1966 and 1967, they will play each other back-to-back years. Each will have chips on their shoulders and something to prove, including that this is a legitimate rivalry.