Remember when there were only three FBS programs that never scheduled or played an FCS program since Division 1 split into two subdivisions in 1973? You can now drop the USC Trojans off that list.
USC announced three new home games for the future schedule on Friday afternoon. One of the three teams on that schedule is FCS UC Davis. The Trojans will face their first FCS opponent in 2021. USC also added two Mountain West teams in Nevada in 2023 and San Jose State in 2024.
USC was one of three programs to have not played an FCS opponent, with UCLA and Notre Dame being the other two. With this announcement the Trojans fall out of that honor. USC will open with UC Davis on September 4th, 2021 to fill out their non conference slate for that season. They’ll also host BYU for an after thanksgiving match up November 27th and travel to South Bend to face Notre Dame on October 23rd.
The UC Davis Aggies are out the Big Sky conference in The FCS. Coached by Dan Hawkins, the Aggies went 10-3, winning the Big Sky conference and qualifying for their first NCAA Playoff appearance in program history. UC Davis is projected to be a Top five team in The FCS preseason polls. The Aggies are very familiar with Pac-12 programs as they’ve faced Stanford, Oregon, Arizona State, and Cal in the past. One of their biggest moments in program history came on September 17th, 2005 when UC Davis made a trip to Palo Alto, California to face Stanford in their first meeting with an FBS team. The Aggies would go on to defeat the Cardinal at Stanford Stadium 20-17.
The announcement shouldn’t come to a surprise to fans as USC associate athletic director Steve Lopes discussed the possibility of adding an FCS opponent in an interview back in mid May. The reasoning behind the scheduling is for a new scheduling philosophy that gives the Trojans seven home games.
Nevada and San Jose State will get over looked in the announcement due to UC Davis being on the schedule (Not for a good reason either.). Nevada comes to Los Angeles on September 2nd 2023. This will mark the first time the two schools met on the gridiron since 1929 where USC defeated the Wolfpack 66-0 at the L.A. Coliseum. The rest of the 2023 non conference slate includes a trip to Notre Dame and another home meeting with BYU in November.
San Jose State will venture into the Coliseum on September 7th, 2024. This will mark the 5th meeting between the Spartans and Trojans with USC holding a 4-0 record all time. The last meeting came in 2009 during Pete Carroll’s final season has head coach. Quarterback Matt Barkley made his debut as a true freshman in the 56-3 victory over San Jose State. While San Jose State and Notre Dame make their trips to the Coliseum during the 2024 season, there’s still an opening on the schedule which leaves the possibility for a neutral site game or starting on the road for a home and home series.
The decision to schedule an FCS program for a one off game or scheduling one at all is a very unpopular. Considering that this was viewed an unavoidable by filling out their future schedules earlier and contacting group of five programs, USC waited too long to fill up the schedule for 2021. This turned out to be the ultimate fate for the Trojans and while it’s not the end of the world, it’s one tradition that many fans won’t be happy to see end. Come September of 2021 USC will take the field to face an FCS opponent for the first time ever.