When Alabama and the University of Southern California get together on a football field, history is often made.
That history has often shaped the national championship picture, if not a whole lot more.
Granted, the two juggernauts—the Crimson Tide claim 16 national championships, and the Trojans have 11—have only played seven times over the years and have not seen each other since the 1985 Sun Bowl, but their head-to-head battles include the following:
- The 1946 Rose Bowl, which was the last played before the PCC-Big Nine agreement. The Trojans had won eight straight Rose Bowls dating back to 1923. Led by legendary quarterback Harry Gilmer, Alabama outgained USC 351-41 en route to a 34-14 rout. USC didn’t make a first down until the third quarter, when the score was 27–0.
- In part to help ease the transition to integration, legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant scheduled a home-and-home with USC, with the Trojans first visiting Legion Field in 1970. Trojans halfback Sam Cunningham rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns to lead USC to a 42-21 victory. Assistant coach Jerry Claiborne famously said of the contest, “Sam Cunningham did more to integrate Alabama in 60 minutes than Martin Luther King did in 20 years.”
- For the return trip, Bryant installed the wishbone offense and swore everyone, including reporters, to secrecy before the 1971 season opener. The heavily favored Trojans were caught unaware. Visiting Alabama scored two early touchdowns and held on for a 17-10 victory. Bryant was eventually named coach of the year, and the season helped spark his second dynasty with the Crimson Tide.
- In 1978, Alabama lost an early-season meeting with Southern California 24-14 but clawed its way back into the national title picture despite playing a brutal schedule, including Nebraska, Missouri, Washington and Virginia Tech. Led by its defense, Alabama ran the table the rest of the way and won the No. 1 vs. No. 2 meeting against Penn State in the Sugar Bowl, only to see the Trojans jump the Crimson Tide in the coaches’ poll for a split national championship.
What makes this particular meeting stand out is that it might be the marquee game of what’s being hailed as the best opening weekend in college football history, with Alabama the preseason No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25 and USC ranked 20th (No. 17 in the coaches’ poll). On paper, they might be the two most talented teams in the nation.
However, whereas Alabama is used to big games like this, having played twice at A&T Stadium last season, USC hasn’t played in the Dallas area in 21 years. It also hasn’t faced an SEC team in 10 years or defeated a team ranked No. 1 since 1984, losing five straight.
Date: Sept. 3
Time: 7 p.m. CT
Place: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Spread: Alabama -11.5, according to Odds Shark
Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News