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OTD: USC’s legendary 1972 team starts with a bang

When USC took the field the evening of September 9, 1972, the Trojans were a team coming off back-to-back 6-4-1 seasons. They were also the No. 8 team in the nation and about to embark on one of the all-time great seasons in college football history.

Facing the No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks, USC left no doubt about what kind of team they could be that season. The Trojans kept Arkansas quarterback Joe Ferguson and the Razorbacks in check, eventually rolling to a 31-10 win.

USC quarterback Mike Rae threw for 269 yards, while running back Rod McNeill ran for 117 yards.

That 1973 USC team featured 13 All-Americans and 33 players who would go on to play in the NFL.

Sept. 9, 1972 was also the last day USC would be ranked anything other than No. 1 for that season. The Trojans leapt into the top spot following the win and never gave it up, beating No. 15 Stanford, No. 18 Washington, No. 14 UCLA, No. 10 Notre Dame and No. 3 Ohio State on the way to a national championship. Only the Stanford game was decided by fewer than 10 points.


Other notable Sept. 9 events

Sept. 9 2000

USC has never lost to Colorado and this is the closest the Trojans have come to doing so. The Buffaloes missed a field goal with 1:14 left in the game and Carson Palmer led the Trojans 72 yards downfield to set up David Newbury for a 24-yard field goal with just 13 seconds remaining, as USC came away with a 17-14 victory. The win moved USC up to the No. 9 team in the country before things absolutely imploded the rest of the way. After starting 3-0, USC went 2-7 the rest of the way in head coach Paul Hackett’s final year at USC.

Sept. 9 2017

For one of the few games in Clay Helton’s USC tenure, the Trojan ground game against a worthy opponent was unstoppable. Facing No. 14 Stanford, USC’s Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr both had 100-yard nights on the ground, as Jones finished with 116 yards and two touchdowns and Carr had 119 yards on just 11 carries. As a team, USC rushed for 307 yards. Quarterback Sam Darnold added 316 yards and four touchdowns through the air, helping the Trojans to a 42-24 win early in an eventual Pac-12 Championship season.


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



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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