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Trojans Throwback: 1995 Cotton Bowl Classic

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22 years ago USC had a dominant and record setting performance in their first Cotton Bowl Classic appearance

USC will headline the 82nd Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic as they face the Big Ten Champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Many Trojan fans know about the past meetings with Ohio State, however did you know that this will be USC’s 2nd appearance in the Cotton Bowl Classic? 22 years ago USC made a rare trip to the Cotton Bowl during the 1994-95 bowl season. We turn the clock back and take a look at the 1995 Cotton Bowl Classic.

January, 2nd 1995 USC participated in the Cotton Bowl following a 7-3-1 record and a 2nd place finish in the Pac-10. Their opponent would be the Texas Tech Red Raiders from the now defunct Southwestern Conference. The Trojans was coached by John Robinson, who returned to USC in 1993, was ranked No. 21 in the AP Poll before bowl game. Texas Tech on the other hand stumbled in with a 6-5 record and finished in a tie for second in the SWC. Historically the SWC champion played in the Cotton Bowl and that season Texas A&M won the conference with a 10-0-1 record. However the Aggies were banned from postseason play due to NCAA sanctions which left the Cotton Bowl to take the Red Raiders. Texas Tech was also 1-3 against ranked opponents that season with their only victory coming against No. 19 Texas.

Keyshawn Johnson USC
Keyshawn Johnson would be named Cotton Bowl Classic offensive MVP and set a Cotton Bowl Classic record with 8 catches for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns. His record was broken during the 2004 Cotton Bowl Classic.

The Trojans made their presence known in less than ten minutes of the Cotton Bowl by taking a 21-0 lead over Texas Tech. By the end of the first quarter USC was leading 28-0. The Trojans took a 34-0 lead into the half in Dallas, Texas. The Red Raiders secondary had no answer for USC wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, you might have heard of him. Johnson would go on to have a huge day in the blowout win, catching 8 passes for a Cotton Bowl record 222 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Red Raiders would not score until the 2:15 mark of the 3rd quarter thanks to a Zebbie Lethridge rushing touchdown. The Trojans were leading 48-0 before the Tech touchdown.

USC dominated Texas Tech 55-14 to win the 1995 Cotton Bowl. Keyshawn Johnson won offensive MVP following his record setting performance while USC cornerback John Herpin won defensive MVP following his pick six to make it 21-0 in the first quarter. The following season USC would go on to win the Pac-10 and the Rose Bowl Game going 9-2-1. Texas Tech would rebound the following with a 9-3 record in the last year of the Southwestern Conference and play in the Copper Bowl.

USC’s 55 points would set a Cotton Bowl Classic record for most points scored in the Bowl games history that still stands to this day. Meanwhile Keyshawn Johnson’s receiving yards record would be broken during the 2004 Cotton Bowl Classic by Oklahoma State’s wide receiver Rashaun Woods, who would also set the reception record as well with 11 catches for 223 yards.