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No. 13 USC Football Hosts Washington In Pac-12 Championship Game

Dec 13, 2020

Game Notes


*No. 13 USC, representing the Pac-12 South Division, is playing in its third Pac-12 Football Championship Game, hosting the North Division's Washington on FOX.

*USC is the only South Division team to win at the Pac-12 FCG (this year's will be the 10th rendition). After a 6-year run at Levi's Stadium in the Bay Area, the game returns to the original home-hosted format due to COVID protocols.

*USC is looking to be 6-0 for the 20th time in its history.

*UW is the fifth of USC's 6 opponents this year to at least a week's rest coming into the game (its contest at Oregon last week was not played because of COVID issues in the Husky program). USC, on the other hand, will be playing its second game in a 7-day span (and its third in 14 days).

*Washington last played in the Coliseum in 2015.

*USC-UW games usually are close. The Huskies were the last team to shut out USC (23 years ago).

*This will be just the 14th Friday game for USC since 1990.

*Coach Clay Helton's 2020 Trojans remain undefeated after posting their third heart-thumping last-minute comeback victory, this time over crosstown foe UCLA. It was a short TD from QB Kedon Slovis to WR Amon-Ra St. Brown with 16 seconds to go that did it. Slovis, 14-1 as a starter against the Pac-12 and now in the prestigious USC career passing Top 10, remains the national leader in completions and highly ranked in completion percentage, passing yards and total offense. St. Brown, who has had 6 TD catches in the past 2 games, is 13th in the country in receptions and he is about to enter USC's hallowed all-time receiving Top 10. Fellow WR Tyler Vaughns is already No. 3 on that chart with 220 career receptions. The way he's going, WR Drake London will be the next one to join the list. USC's rush game showed some spark at UCLA, with TB Vavae Malepeai notching the run corps' first 100-yard performance of 2020. The Trojan defense, although giving up a season high in yardage at UCLA, made plays when it needed them, stopping the Bruins 3 times on fourth down, getting 3 turnovers (bringing the season total to 15 to rank fourth in the nation in turnover margin at +1.4). S Talanoa Hufanga--the national leader in interceptions--was everywhere at UCLA, getting 17 tackles (he had 18 last year versus the Bruins), a pick (for the fourth consecutive game, the first time that has happened at USC since 1996) and a forced fumble. His backfield mate, S Isaiah Pola-Mao, had an interception and fumble recovery at UCLA. DL Marlon Tuipulotu, OLB Drake Jackson and CBs Olaijah Griffin and Chris Steele are also having strong seasons.

*Washington, under new coach Jimmy Lake, has had 3 of its 2020 games cancelled. UW, which has not lost a fumble this year, has redshirt freshman QB Dylan Morris directing its offense. TBs Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant man the ground attack, while leading receivers are TE Cade Otton (his uncle once quarterbacked the Trojans) and WRs Puka Nacua and Terrell Bynum. UW sports the Pac-12's top-rated defense (346.2 in total defense). The Huskies have not surrendered more than 35 points in any of the past 75 games (a national best). OLB Zion Tupuola-Fetui tops the nation in sacks and LB Edefuan Ulofoshio is seventh nationally in tackles (11.8, first in Pac-12). DB Elijah Molden was a 2019 All-Pac-12 first teamer.


*USC is ranked No. 13 in both the current AP sports media poll and in the Amway coaches poll. Washington is not ranked.


*USC leads its series with Washington, 51-30-4 (not including the 2005 victory that was later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 52-29-4). USC has won 9 of the previous 13 games and 10 of the previous 15 (not including 1 victory later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 10 of 14, 11 of 16). Twenty-two of the past 38 meetings have been decided by 12 points or less.

*In the Coliseum, USC is 31-12 versus Washington and the Trojans have won 11 of the last 15 there (and 18 of the past 23). The Huskies last visit to the Coliseum was in 2015, a 17-12 UW victory.

*In 2019 in the teams' most recent meeting, TB Salvon Ahmed ran for 153 yards, including an 89-yard touchdown, and Washington picked off a pair of USC passes at the goal line as the No. 17 Huskies posted a 28-14 victory in Husky Stadium over the No. 21 Trojan, who were starting their third quarterback of the season because of injuries (Matt Fink).


*USC is 1-1 in Pac-12 Football Championship Game play.

*No. 7 Stanford beat No. 24 USC, 41-22, in the 2015 Pac-12 Football Championship Game. RB Christian McCaffery had 461 all-purpose yards while running for a touchdown, catching another and even and throwing a TD to lead the Cardinal.

*No. 11 USC defeated No. 14 Stanford, 31-28, in the 2017 Pac-12 Football Championship Game. QB Sam Darnold threw 2 touchdown passes, TB Ronald Jones II ran for a pair of short TDs and the Trojan defense made a huge goal line stand in the fourth quarter to spark a 99-yard scoring drive that provided the decisive points. The win, the first for a South Division team in the game's 7-year history, gave USC its first league title since 2008.


*The Pac-12 North Division representative has defeated the South team in all but 1 of the 9 Pac-12 Football Championship Games.

*Host Oregon defeated UCLA, 49-31, in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game in 2011 (USC finished first in the Pac-12 South that year, but could not play in that contest because of its NCAA sanctions, so the Bruins took Troy's place). Stanford posted a 27-24 win over UCLA in the 2012 game in Palo Alto and the Cardinal beat Arizona State, 38-14, in 2013 in Tempe. In 2014, Oregon dumped Arizona, 53-13, in the first Pac-12 title game played at Levi's Stadium (the previous ones were played on campus sites). Stanford defeated USC, 41-22, in 2015. In 2016, Washington dominated Colorado, 41-10. USC became the South Division's only winner when it beat Stanford, 31-28, in 2017. Washington got by Utah, 10-3, in 2018. Oregon defeated Utah last year, 37-15.

USC 6-0

*A win on Friday would give USC its first 6-0 overall start since 2006. To date, the Trojans have done so 19 times. USC's 6-0 season starts: 1910-20-21-32-43-51-52-59-62-66-67-68-72-75-88-95-2004-05-06 (2005's wins were later vacated due to NCAA penalty).


*The 2020 USC football team and its late comeback victories are reminiscent of the 1968 and 1969 Trojans, who were nicknamed the "Cardiac Kids" for their end-of-game heroics (each team came back 3 times in the fourth quarter to win, and the 1968 squad also did so for a tie).

*The 2020 Trojans now have 3 dramatic comeback victories, all in the final 2 minutes: over Arizona State (game-winning score with 1:20 to go), Arizona (0:25) and UCLA (0:16).

*The only other time in USC history that Troy has posted a trio of comeback wins in the last 2 minutes, per available records, was 1969: Stanford (0:00), California (0:57) and UCLA (1:32).

*According to available records, USC's late comeback wins over Arizona State and Arizona this season marked the first time that the Trojans have captured back-to-back contests with game-winning scores in the final 2 minutes.


*USC has played 13 Friday games since 1990: vs. Syracuse in the 1990 Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, N.J., vs. Louisiana Tech in 1999 in the Coliseum, at Colorado in 2011, at Oregon State in 2013, at Colorado in 2015, at Utah in 2016, 3 times in 2017 (at Washington State, against Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game and against Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl), vs. Washington State in 2018 in the Coliseum and 3 times in 2019 (Utah in the Coliseum, at Colorado, vs. Iowa in the Holiday Bowl). All were wins except the 2016 Utah, 2017 Washington State and Ohio State and 2019 Iowa contests. In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, USC played occasional Friday night games in the Coliseum when sharing the stadium with UCLA.


*USC is 182-67-4 (.727) at night, including 107-30-4 in the Coliseum, 60-29 on the road and 15-8 at neutral sites. (Does not include 5 wins and 1 loss vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 187-68-4, .730 overall, 110-30-4 in the Coliseum, 17-9 at neutral sites, USC had a school-record 32-game win streak at home at night from 1997 to 2010.)


*USC has a 452-140-27 (.752) all-time record in the Coliseum since the stadium opened in 1923 (not including 6 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 458-140-27, .754). USC's 625 games played in the Coliseum (including the 6 vacated wins) is the third most that any school has played in its home stadium (behind Georgia Tech's 707 in Bobby Dodd Stadium and Tennessee's 627 in Neyland Stadium).


*USC has a 44-29-7 (.594) all-time record while playing in the month of December (not including 2 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 46-29-7, .604).

*USC has won 70.2% (479-195-29) of its games against current Pac-12 opponents (not including 9 wins later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 488-195-29, 70.6%).


*USC has 1 player from Washington (OL Caadyn Stephen of Camas HS), while Washington has 39 Californians on its roster.

*USC ILB Maninoa Tufono's father, Albert, played inside linebacker at Washington (1983-84, 1987). *USC cornerbacks coach/defensive pass game coordinator Donte Williams was a graduate assistant coach at Washington in 2011 and 2012.

*USC football staffers Steve Murrillo (offensive quality control analyst), Joseph Wood (assistant athletic director for football/chief of staff), Cheryl Taplin (executive assistant to head coach/assistant director of operations) and Spencer Harris (director of player personnel) all previously held football staff positions at Washington.

*USC wide receivers coach Keary Colbert played for the Seattle Seahawks in 2008.

*Washington defensive backs coach Will Harris lettered 4 years (2005, 2007-09) at defensive back for USC.

*Washington TE Jack Yary is the son of Ron Yary, who lettered 3 years (1965-67) at tackle at USC, including on the 1967 national championship team, where he was a 2-time (1966-67) All-American first teamer and the 1967 Outland Trophy winner, then he was the No. 1 pick of the 1968 NFL Draft, starring 14 seasons (1968-91) with the Minnesota Vikings (playing in 4 Super Bowls) and in 1982 with the Rams before being inducted into the Pro Football, College Football and USC Athletic Halls of Fame and making the Pac-12 All-Century team.

*Washington TE Cade Otton is the nephew of former USC QB Brad Otton (1994-96).

*Washington LB Jackson Sirmon and QB Jacob Sirmon are the son and nephew, respectively, of former USC assistant coach Peter Sirmon (2014-15).

*UW director of football operations Deborah Goldstein is a USC graduate, as is assistant athletic director for athletic communications Jeff Bechthold.

*Washington men's tennis coach Matt Anger was a 3-time All-American at USC and then was an assistant coach for Troy's 1994 men's NCAA championship tennis team.

*Washington women's basketball head coach Jody (Anton) Wynn played at USC (1993-96) and then was an assistant coach for the Women of Troy (2005-09), while UW associate head coach Derek Wynn (Jody's husband) also was a USC assistant (2005-09).

*Laura Freimuth, the director of administration for Husky women's basketball, held various staff positions with USC women's basketball (2006-09).

*Three Trojans celebrate their birthday on Friday (Dec. 18): S Kaulana Makaula, OL Bernard Schirmer and offensive quality control analyst Seth Doege.