On Sept. 11, 1976, USC began the John Robinson era, as the former offensive coordinator came back to the Trojans to take over as head coach after a one-year stint as an assistant with the Raiders. He was greeted on this date 44 years ago at the Coliseum by plenty of rain and a Missouri team few saw coming.
USC started the 1976 season ranked No. 8 in the country, thanks to a 1975 season that saw USC maintain a top-5 ranking for most of it, lose four games to close out the regular season, but then thump No. 2 Texas A&M in the bowl game, 20-0.
Missouri was 6-5 in 1975, though the Tigers did beat No. 2 Alabama to start the season.
They pulled off the same kind of stunner in 1976 as well.
In rainy conditions, USC’s first drive ended with a long snap that sailed over the punter. Missouri added a touchdown on a kickoff return and a 49-yard pass play in the first half to take a 30-10 lead into the locker room. Missouri eventually won 46-23.
This is a game that makes absolutely no sense looking back at it. USC’s 1976 team was dominant for the rest of the season. The Trojans didn’t lose again over their next 15 games and held the rest of their 1976 opponents to just 93 total points.
USC beat No. 2 UCLA and No. 13 Notre Dame to close the season, then took down No. 2 Michigan in the Rose Bowl to finish the season 11-1 and National Champions in six recognized polls.
Saying all that, Missouri’s 1976 season was far stranger. The Tigers beat No. 8 USC and No. 2 Ohio State for its first two wins. In between, Missouri got blown out by an unranked Illinois team, 31-6. Throughout the year, Missouri beat five top-15 teams, and finished the season with six wins and in sixth place in the Big Eight.
Other notable “On This Date” events
Sept. 11 2004
USC’s undefeated 2004 team notched its second win of the season, as the Trojans rushed for 322 yards–LenDale white had 123 and three touchdowns on just 14 carries–and intercepted four Colorado State passes in a 49-0 win. Reggie Bush added a touchdown, and both Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett caught scoring passes from Matt Leinart. Matt Grootegoed (two), Dallas Sartz and Eric Wright had interceptions.
Previous “On This Date” entries
Sept. 1 – A Dynasty Begins
Sept. 2 – Woo Pig, Again
Sept. 3 – Woody’s Record
Sept. 5 – Barkley with the firsts of many
Sept. 6 – Another USC – Stanford Classic
Sept. 7 – Slovis gets his start
Sept. 8 – Stars are injured in USC’s 1979 opener
Sept. 10 – Welcome to the Pac-12