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OTD: Turning of the Tide

Sept. 12 marks the anniversary of one of college football’s most noteworthy events. On this date 50 years ago, USC became the first fully integrated team to play in the state of Alabama, when the Trojans took on the Crimson Tide on Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

Sept. 12, 1970

No player is more tied to that 1970 game that USC fullback Sam “Bam” Cunningham (photo above), who rushed 12 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns, as USC rolled to a 42-21 win.

USC was dominant on the ground, as the Trojans gained 485 of their 559 total yards via the run. On the other side, USC limited Alabama to just 32 rushing yards and 264 total yards.

Thanks to Cunningham’s two touchdowns, a couple Ron Ayala field goals, a 7-yard run by Charles Evans and a 23-yard pass from quarterback Jimmy Jones to Clarence Davis, USC built a 32-7 lead in a game that was never close.

Though this was a No. 3 USC team visiting a No. 16 Alabama team, these two groups did not wind up as some of the nation’s best by the end of the year. USC wound up going 6-4-1, with a loss to UCLA late in the year. Alabama went 6-5-1, though all its losses were to ranked teams.

Still, 50 years later, there’s no taking away from the importance of this game on a national level.


Other notable “On This Date” events

Sept. 12, 2009

USC took a true freshman quarterback on the road to Columbus, Ohio to face the No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes. It wasn’t a great game for the Trojans, but quarterback Matt Barkley and the USC offense delivered when it matters most, authoring one of the great fourth-quarter drives in Trojan history.

With 6:09 left in the game, USC was snapping the ball on 2nd and 19 at its own 5-yard line, down 15-10. With 1:08 left, running back Stafon Johnson was turning the corner around the right end, on his way to the game-winning touchdown.


Previous “On This Date” entries

Sept. 1 – A Dynasty Begins

Sept. 2 – Woo Pig, Again

Sept. 3 – Woody’s Record

Sept. 4 – Renovated Coliseum sees Morton set a 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. 9 – USC’s legendary 1972 team starts with a bang

Sept. 10 – Welcome to the Pac-12

Sept. 11 – Mizz-who?



Erik McKinney
Author
Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.


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