The last time the two met, they produced the greatest college football game of all time, a classic between two historically talented teams.
Both of these storied programs have had their recent stumbles.
MS (2-0) at California (2-0): California’s Patrick Laird had already considered 2017 a success after the former walk-on running back was awarded a scholarship in the offseason. The USC Trojans have won 11 straight home games.
The Longhorns ride high following last week’s 56-0 rout of San Jose State as 26.5-point chalk, but have been dismal performers on the road, going 2-8 SU and ATS in 10 contests since the start of last season.
The journey to get there proved to be full of surprising twists.
The lowdown: After tons of talk about the greatness -or heartbreak- of the 2006 Rose Bowl, USC and Texas put together arguably the most equally opposite first half performance they could. In Week 3, however, the Longhorns bounced back quickly with a huge road victory over the fourth-ranked USC Trojans, 17-14. Darnold was the catalyst for the Rose Bowl victory over Penn State as he threw for over 450 yards and five touchdowns.
“We had to finish strong, and that’s what we did”, said USC receiver Deontay Burnett, who caught eight passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
So when the architect of USC’s return to excellence says he sees imminent signs of the same restoration in Tom Herman and Texas, the Longhorns’ fans should take heart.
What the Longhorns defense did was give the offense a chance by holding USC in check, a hallmark of Todd Orlando’s defenses at Houston against ranked opponents (think of the pressure on Louisville’s Lamar Jackson). Ehlinger, should he get a second consecutive start, also is a much better runner than Buechele and should be able to help move the chains that way.
Anthony Wheeler, who turned a potential scoring drive that had reached UT’s 19 into a missed 46-yard field goal thanks to a 9-yard sack of Sam Darnold. On fourth-and-10 at the USC 28, he found Armanti Foreman over the middle for 11 yards.
They could pose problems for USC’s defense, which could be without three starters.
OK, so the game isn’t for a national championship, but really, a freshman walk-on trying to make his first field goal as a college player ties the score with a 31-yard kick as time expires? This season, the Trojans are expected to compete for a national championship and are now ranked in the top four according to the Associated Press. However, the Terrapins shocked and defeated the Longhorns 51-41 on Texas’ home field.
Texas suffered a big loss Saturday with starting tackle Connor Williams going down with a knee injury. Shane Buechele is completing 65.4 percent of his passes for 375 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. It will show the Trojans defense manage to hold Texas to just four third down conversions out of 16 attempts.
USC can breathe a sigh of relief, its playoff hopes suffering little or no damage. The last time the Trojans went for back-to-back 300-yard rushing games was last season, against Arizona and California. There will be no 12-year wait this time.
After combining for 32 carries and 238 yards – 166 by Warren – against San Jose State, the two had just nine carries for 24 yards.