USC and Arizona State do not have a recent history that is the most exciting in the nation, mostly because USC has dominated the Sun Devils time after time this decade. The string of Trojan dominance is shown in the 19-10 all time record between the two but before this decade the game was always a great one to watch and it still is. These two teams have played some great games over the years especially when the Trojans head down to Tempe and visit the hot and hostile environment.
The first time these two teams met was in 1978, it was Arizona State’s first ever PAC-10 game, and they had the daunting task of facing the #2 USC Trojans. That day the Sun Devils played lights out as they sent the Trojans back to L.A. with a 20-7 loss. This game featured Trojan greats such as tailback Charles White, hard-hitting safety Ronnie Lott, and head coach John Robinson. The Trojans would go on to beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl but that one loss to the Arizona St. Sun Devils kept another National Championship from us.
Until the 2000 season the Sun Devils actually led the Trojans all time with nine wins and seven losses. Before the end of the millennium Arizona St got the Trojans once again getting the win 26-16 in the Coliseum. In that game J.R. Redmond rushed for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns while Todd Heap also added 7 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown for Sparky and the Sun Devils. Both teams had mediocre seasons with a 6-6 record each. This 1999 matchup proved to be the last win for ASU over USC for quite some time.
Over the next decade USC had a rise to prominence nationally while Arizona St. for the most part remained a middle of the road team. During the 2000s USC had an eleven game winning streak against the Sun Devils with some of the decades most memorable games. In USC’s 2005 championship season they had a scare against the 15th ranked Sun Devils as USC trailed 21-3 at the half. The fans in Tempe were going nuts but Matt Leinart and company silenced them at the end prevailing 38-28. In 2007 on Thanksgiving day USC traveled to Arizona State in one of the most anticipated games of the year. Both ASU and USC were nationally ranked and this game was likely for the PAC-10 Championship. At the end of the game USC won 44-24 as the Sun Devil offense could not find second half rhythm.
The USC streak ended in 2011 as the Arizona State beat the Trojans in Tempe to a score of 43-22. USC led the game 22-21 in the third quarter but 22 unanswered point sent the Trojans back home with a loss to Arizona State for the first time in 11 years. This game featured a rivalry in itself as USC quarterback Matt Barkley and ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict both had words of disdain towards each other in the week leading up to the game.
In 2012 USC shutdown the Sun Devils and took the win 38-17. Although these two teams are not officially rivals it sure does feel like it when the play. USC and ASU have some of the most physical games and we all know how much it irks Sparky and the fans when they see Traveler and the USC marching band. Saturday’s game already has a lot of hype and excitement as neither team wants to be 0-2 in conference play, but lets hope the Trojans can get revenge for the 2011 loss.