On September 10, 2011, the Pac-12 officially kicked off, as USC and Utah met in the first conference game since the Pac-10 added the Utes and Colorado Buffaloes. Looking back at it now, there could have been no more perfect way to begin the life of this Pac-12 conference.
When the game ended, USC had beaten Utah 17-14, thanks to a blocked field goal by USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil on the game’s final play. Two hours later, USC had beaten Utah 23-14, thanks to Torin Harris’ recovery and return for a touchdown of that blocked field goal.
Harris had scored on the play, but with a flag thrown against the USC bench during the return, there was confusion as to whether the score should count or not. Several hours later, it officially counted.
USC and Utah combined for 14 penalties, three turnovers on downs, three lost fumbles and an interception. The final 10 drives of the game resulted in nine punts and that blocked field goal.
As for what went right for the Trojans, running back Marc Tyler returned from a one game suspension to rush for 113 yards and a touchdown. Robert Woods followed up his 17-reception performance the week before with eight catches for 102 yards. And tight end Xavier Grimble showed up in a big way, with five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.
USC kicker Andre Heidari scored the first-ever Pac-12 points, with a 47-yard field goal, while Tyler scored the conference’s first touchdown.
Quarterback Matt Barkley threw for 264 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Despite the loss, this game was a clear indication that Utah was ready to make the jump to the Pac-12. It took a few tries but Utah got its first conference win against USC in 2014, and the teams have traded wins and losses every year since 2013.
Other notable Sept. 10 events
Sept. 10, 1983
USC and quarterback Sean Salisbury had one final shot to beat a top-20 Florida team at the Coliseum. After a penalty against Florida on the game’s final play for having 12 men on the field, Salisbury connected for a 25-yard touchdown to Timmie Ware with no time on the clock to tie the score at 19. But USC botched the extra point attempt and the game ended in a tie.
Sept. 10, 1988
Down 13-0, the Trojans were able to come all the way back for a win against Stanford, thanks to a late, 80-yard drive engineered by quarterback Rodney Peete. Following a missed Stanford field goal with 3:44 remaining, the Trojans almost gave the game right back to Stanford, as Peete was stripped and fumbled on the second play of the drive. Wide receivers Erik Affholter and John Jackson II had big third-down receptions on the drive, which ultimately finished with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Peete to Jackson with 1:19 left.
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