USC Football: Paying Homage to St. Patrick’s Day

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, one of the most anticipated days of the year for fraternities, party-goers, corn beef connoisseurs and lovers of all thing green. To celebrate the holiday in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, we gathered up some USC football fun facts and history.

Green Jerseys no longer the kryptonite to USC football

USC and Notre Dame have been two historic rivals for 90 years, but the series may have been at its peak in the 1970s. Both programs were nationally relevant and played a slew of classic bouts, including The Comeback in 1974 and The Green Jersey Game in 1977.

That ’77 game, a 49-19 win for Notre Dame, gave the perception to some that green jerseys themselves fostered the luck of the Irish, not the legendary Joe Montana or All-American Ken MacAfee.

After the Trojans got some revenge in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Notre Dame needed a spark, so they looked to the green jerseys again in 1983 and beat USC 27-6.

Photo: USA Today Sports Images

They did it again two years later to win their third-straight rivalry game in what would ultimately wind up being a 13-year unbeaten streak against the Trojans.

RELATED: 13 horrific moments in USC football history

So it was fitting that the Irish would once again look to the green jerseys in 2005 when No. 1 USC came calling into South Bend with Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Matt Leinart and soon-to-be Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.

Notre Dame was in the first year of the Charlie Weis era and ranked No. 9 with a significant amount of buzz behind the likes of Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija. The green jerseys looked to be the ultimate trump card, along with heavily overgrown grass at Notre Dame Stadium.

Ironically, that grass would cost Notre Dame the game.

Leinart found Dwayne Jarrett on a make-or-break 4th and 9 deep in Trojan territory with 92 seconds left, gaining 61 yards to put USC in striking range, down 31-28.

Since Jarrett was slowed down by the grass, he did not score a touchdown, which allowed the Trojans to kill the remaining time on the clock before scoring in the dying seconds on a quarterback sneak from Leinart.

The previously undefeated green jerseys had their first blemish in the rivalry.

Weis rolled the green dice again in 2007 to pay homage to the 1977 team, but backup quarterback Mark Sanchez led the Trojans to a 38-0 victory, the most lop-sided USC win in the history of the series.

Safe to say that the Trojans put the green jersey curse to rest.

Three Patricks and a few variants

There have been hundreds and literally thousands of football players to suit up for USC. Yet, somewhat surprisingly, there have been only three Trojans with the given name Patrick to have earned a varsity letter in football, one with Patrick as a surname and a couple of Fitzpatricks.

  1. Patrict West (1944) Fullback
  2. Doug Patrick (1964-65) Defensive tackle
  3. Patrick Morris (1975) Offensive guard
  4. James FitzPatrick (1983-85) Offensive tackle
  5. Patrick Turner (2005-08) Wide receiver
  6. Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (2012-Present) Tight end

The most notable is surely Patrick Turner, who caught 17 touchdowns as a Trojan from 2005-2008. He currently sits in 13th on USC’s all-time pass catches list, tied with former teammate Ronald Johnson.

Turner was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft, before playing in 22 games over a three-year stretch with the New York Jets. He’s since retired.

While at USC, offensive lineman James FitzPatrick was named to the All-Pac-10 team and won the team’s Brice Taylor Award in 1985 before being selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft.

As for the name Green or Greene? There’s been 11 Trojans with such a name to earn a letter, with incoming freshman Rasheem Green on pace to be the 12th.

There’s also been five MacTrojans, seven O’Trojans, 64 McTrojans and one legendary John McKay. But really, who’s counting?

Gangbusters against the gangrene

The Trojans have played 175 games all-time against schools that have green in their color palette. Since 86 of those have come against Notre Dame, the only regular opponent to have a winning record against USC, the Trojans’ don’t exactly have the best record against the greenies.

They’ve won 96 of the 175 all-time for a .549 winning percentage.

However, that includes three vacated wins in 2005 over Hawaii, Oregon and Notre Dame, leaving USC’s official green record at 93-72-7.

Here’s the full slate of green opponents, including blasts from the past like the University of San Francisco and Cal Poly.

BONUS St. Patrick’s Day Fun Fact: Today’s the birthday of USC alum Rob Kardashian. Hashtag the more you know.


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