Continuing the “On This Date” series–looking back at the notable games, performances and events that have taken place on specific dates throughout USC football history–Sept. 2 only offers a few choices. The one selected here provided a major statement that USC football, despite suffering a few major departures, was planning to stick around on the national scene for at least a bit longer.
September 2, 2006
Three years after a thrilling win at Auburn, USC was back in SEC country to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The USC run was over, as the Trojans lost the previous year’s national championship game to Texas and then said goodbye to Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White and a host of others players that nearly led USC to three-straight national championships.
At least that’s what fans from Arkansas–and likely much of the country–figured.
The Razorbacks were out for revenge after being humiliated by the Trojans 70-17 the previous year. And in front of a capacity crowd of 76,000, all USC did was score the most points against Arkansas in Fayetteville since 1919.
The 50-14 final score and everything that came with it was exactly what USC fans were hoping to see as the Trojans began the John David Booty era.
The USC defense intercepted three passes and recovered two fumbles, while holding Arkansas’ trio of eventual-NFL tailbacks–Felix Jones, Darren McFadden and Peyton Hillis–to just 106 total yards on the ground.
Booty threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns–hitting wide receiver Patrick Turner, tight end Fred Davis and fullback Ryan Powdrell for scores–while USC’s stable of running backs was on display. Emmanuel Moody, Chauncey Washington and C.J. Gable each ran for at least 50 yards, while Allen Bradford scored a touchdown.
The No. 6-ranked Trojans started a little slow, but took a 16-7 lead into halftime. USC blew out the Razorbacks in the second half–not unheard of during head coach Pete Carroll’s tenure–and slapped a 34-7 finish on Arkansas over the final two quarters.
This game also featured two Arkansas players who would later transfer to USC, as quarterback Mitch Mustain went 4-for-6 for 47 yards and an interception and ran for a four-yard touchdown. Wide receiver Damian Williams led the Razorbacks with four receptions for 61 yards. The two true freshmen would transfer to USC before the next season.
Sept. 2, 2002
It wasn’t the 2003 game at Auburn, but Sept. 2, 2002 marked the Trojans’ 24-17 win against the Tigers in the Coliseum.
Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown on a quarterback sneak with 1:26 remaining.
This was also the “debut” of USC’s new football jerseys, as the Trojans went back to the look of the teams from 1958-1970, with a single stripe on each shoulder and numbers on the sleeve.
Sept. 2, 1991
A glutton for punishment? Go ahead and look back at the 1991 season opener, which USC dropped 24-10 against Memphis State.
This might be the first part of the most confusing season-opening pair of games in USC history, as the Trojans came into this game ranked No. 16 and lost to a very bad Memphis State program, then turned around 12 days later and beat No. 5 Penn State.
Sept. 1 – A Dynasty Begins