These are ten recent on the field games or plays we USC football fans want to forget. If reading the article wasn'‘t painful enough, be sure to watch these ten plays on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhL4VruJt1I&t=36s
10. 52-6 vs. Lane Kiffin (2016)
USC headed into 2016 with high hopes. It was a new season with former Gatorade Player of the Year Max Browne making his first start as a Trojan, facing number one Alabama. The game had a promising start with a long completion to Darreus Rogers, setting up a field goal. But USC would manage just one more field goal the rest of the game. Alabama offensive coordinator and former USC head coach Lane Kiffin, who was fired by Pat Haden, got his revenge by humiliating the Trojans on national television.
9. “What’s Your Deal?” (2009)
With USC trailing Jim Harbaugh-led Stanford 42-21 in the fourth quarter, Stanford was driving again. They would score a touchdown, giving Stanford a 48-21 lead. But instead of kicking the extra point, Harbaugh decided to rub it in even more, going for two and for 50 against Pete Carroll at the Coliseum. Although the conversion failed, a few minutes later Stanford scored again, surpassing the 50-point mark anyway and winning 55-21. In the postgame handshake at midfield, Pete Carroll asked Harbaugh “what’s your deal?” Harbaugh responded with “what’s your deal?” Since then, USC-Stanford games have always seemed to be good.
8. Arizona State Hail Mary (2014)
USC had a 34-25 lead with 3:02 left in the game after a 53-yard touchdown run by Javorius “Buck” Allen, seemingly wrapping up the game. But Arizona State scored on the next play, a 73-yard touchdown pass. But when USC recovered the onside kick and Arizona State had no timeouts left, the game still looked over. But USC would fail to pick up a first down and had to punt the ball away with 23 seconds left. In a shocking decision, QB Cody Kessler punted the ball, managing only 18 yards. Four plays later, QB Mike Bercovici completed a 46-yard touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong as time expired.
7. Sam Darnold’s First Game (2016)
This was the low point of USC’s 2016 season, as they fell to 1-3 after a heartbreaking 31-27 loss on the road against Utah. With 16 seconds left and trailing 27-24, Adoree Jackson was beaten by Tim Patrick, who caught an 18-yard touchdown to win the game. USC led by as many as 14 and had a ten-point lead early in the fourth quarter. What hurts more is what ended up occurring after this game. USC would reel off eight straight wins, finishing the regular season at 9-3, but failed to reach the Pac-12 title game because of two conference losses. If they had beaten Utah, they might have won the Pac-12 and likely earned a berth in the college football playoffs.
6. Beavers Spring a Trap (2008)
USC was the top-ranked team in the country, heading into what should be a relatively easy win against the 1-2 Oregon State Badgers in Corvallis. The 2008 USC defense is widely considered USC’s greatest defense ever, with players like Clay Matthews III playing backup roles. But Oregon State, led by Jacquizz Rodgers, led 21-0 after the first half. The comeback bid for USC would fall short as Oregon State stormed the field after stunning USC 27-21. The Trojans would go undefeated in their final ten games, in which they beat teams by an average of 30 points, but would have to settle for a Rose Bowl win over Penn State because of that fateful night in Corvallis.
5. The Lateral (2006)
USC was going for their third consecutive national title, playing in the Rose Bowl against Texas. Everything seemed perfect. It was basically a home game for USC and they were winning 7-0 with possession at the start of the second quarter. Matt Leinart throws a screen pass to Reggie Bush, who finds a hole and breaks free. Texas prevents a touchdown, but Bush had picked up over 30 yards as he was being dragged down at the Texas 20, when he did the unthinkable: he tried to lateral. The ball would be recovered by Texas, and the momentum of the game would completely change. Back in Bush’s high school championship game, he did the same thing, but that time it had worked for a touchdown. Not this time. He tried to lateral to number 48. No one knew who 48 was. Even today, no one knows who he is.
4. 41-Point Underdogs (2007)
USC had won 35 straight games at home. They were ranked number two in the country, facing 41-point underdog Stanford, who was 1-3 on the season. In Jim Harbaugh’s first big win as a coach, Stanford would stun the college football world with one of the greatest upsets in sports history. On fourth and goal at the ten, Mark Bradford made a leaping catch at the corner of the end zone, and after the extra point, Stanford took the lead and won the game 24-23.
3. The Drop (2010)
With Matt Barkley unable to play, Mitch Mustain, the transfer from Arkansas, got his first start as a Trojan. This was his moment to prove himself, playing Notre Dame who USC hadn’t lost to since 2001. After not getting first team reps during practice that week, Mustain put together a solid performance, but was hurt by numerous drops by receivers. With a little over a minute left in the game and trailing by four, Mustain let fly a perfect pass to Ronald Johnson as the defender fell down. Johnson was about to walk into the end zone for the game winning touchdown. But he forgot just one thing. The ball. USC went on to lose the game 20-16.
2. The Second Half Adjustments That Never Came (2006)
Under Pete Carroll, USC was known for their second half adjustments. So in the final game of the season against UCLA, when USC led 9-7 at the half, there was no need to worry. USC was ranked number two in the country, and a win would send them to the BCS national title game. A loss... well that wasn’t an option. In the locker room at halftime, Coach Carroll expected USC to dominate in the second half “just like we always do.” Instead, USC would get shutout in the second half. With a little over a minute to go, and trailing 13-9 with possession, USC had the ball deep in UCLA territory. On third and four, John David Booty’s pass was deflected and intercepted by backup linebacker Eric McNeal, ending the game and shattering USC’s national title dreams.
1. We All Know What It Is (2006)
Let’s not talk about this one. We beat them last year.