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Texas – USC: Can the Longhorns Pull Off an Upset?

Texas-USC. Two storied football powerhouses. Both schools are in the top-10 of NCAA football programs in win percentage, with UT (.706) and USC  (.702). Both have a top-10 all-time record, 30+ conference championships, and 53 bowl game appearances. Texas has 58 consensus All-Americans while the Trojans have 81, both in the top-10. Texas has had 45 first-round draft picks, while USC has almost double that at 80, which is 8th and 1st all-time, respectively. Both have spent 700+ weeks in the Associated Press Poll, and UT has spent 45 weeks atop the AP Poll while USC has more than doubled that with 91 weeks spent on top of the Poll, ranking 1st all-time. Lastly the Longhorns are 2nd all-time in wins, at 891, while the Trojans aren’t far behind with 825 wins (10th all-time).

But you get the point.

These two teams have met five times before, with only one match-up in the current millennia. Before that it was 1955, 1956, 1966, and 1967.

For only the 6th time in history, the Trojans and Longhorns will play on Saturday night.  When fans think of Texas – USC, inevitably they think of the penultimate 2006 national championship.  The teams were ranked 1st and 2nd all season heading into the game, and the anticipation became reality.

The two teams played in what was arguably the greatest national championship ever, with Texas winning 41-38 thanks to the magic of quarterback Vince Young. USC hasn’t played for another title since, but Texas would return to the Rose Bowl in 2009 only to fall short to Alabama.

A lot has changed since the last meeting between the two schools, with former Trojans head coach Pete Carroll leaving before severe NCAA sanctions hit and Texas falling off the map once Colt McCoy got injured in the 2009 National Championship game. To capture this best – Texas has a record of 47-45 in the 92 games since Colt went down, while before that, during one of the Longhorns’ highest eras of success – they went 79-11 in the 90 games before his injury.

USC also went through some tough years, including ugly breakups with Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and Steve Sarkisisian, and now settling on current head coach Clay Helton. Helton took last year’s Trojan squad to the Rose Bowl with up-and-coming quarterback Sam Darnold, who led USC to a victory over Penn State.

The Trojans come into the matchup with all the momentum (2-0) after defeating Western Michigan in the opener 49-31, and then crushing their bay-area rival Stanford in the Coliseum 42-24.

The Longhorns did not start as hot as USC, losing the season opener to the visiting Maryland Terrapins 51-41 in a game the Longhorns were favored by as much as 18 points. The loss spoiled new head coach Tom Herman’s debut in Austin, but he would get his first win as the Texas head coach last weekend, as the Longhorns roughed around and shutout the visiting San Jose State Spartans, 56-0.

So what does this mean for the matchup this weekend? The Trojans are the #4 team in the nation, and they have not lost a football game in almost a year, when they lost to Utah on September 23, 2016. The Trojans will be riding an 11-game win streak and playing with a huge home field advantage.

USC is favored by more than two touchdowns. Can the Longhorns pull off another upset of the Trojans? Only time will tell, but the Trojans looked dominant last week and will be riding serious momentum heading into this matchup.

And while the hype may not be nearly as close to what it was over 10 years ago, it may be foolish to count the Longhorns out. If the defense can stop Sam Darnold and keep him off the field, Texas might keep it close.

The 6th matchup between these two storied programs should be fun and we can count on both to give it their all when they take the field. The anticipated bout, in what could be a revenge match for the Trojans, takes place on Saturday night on FOX at 7:30 P.M.

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Ross Labenske is a student at the University of Texas studying journalism with a focus in sports. He graduated from Allen High School and has a passion for his hometown teams in the Dallas area; the Mavericks, Rangers, and first and foremost, the Dallas Cowboys.

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