RoT Madness, Round of 32: Voting for USC Football Legends


The second round of RoT Madness is upon us, with huge USC football matchups including Marcus Allen vs. O.J. Simpson. Voting is now open.

After a first round that included several tight votes, including No. 7 seed Sedrick Ellis toppling 2nd-seeded Tim Ryan by just four votes, RoT Madness’s Round of 32 features a fierce allotment of matchups.

The running backs region features two matchups between a pair of Heisman Trophy winners, with Marcus Allen vs. O.J. Simpson, and Charles White vs. Reggie Bush. Meanwhile, the linebackers region boasts a hard-hitting matchup between Junior Seau and Rey Maualuga.

Who will fight on to the Sweet 16 and the final round of the position-by-position subregions? Your vote will decide. The polls are open until Wednesday, March 29th at 6:00 p.m. PT before the advancing Trojans will be announced on

Let’s vote…

No. 1 Ronnie Lott vs. No. 5 Taylor Mays

Taylor Mays pulled off one of the few upsets of the first round by besting Dennis Smith. Could he possibly manage the most stunning surprise of the bracket by downing No. 1 seed Ronnie Lott? It would be asking a lot.

In terms of individual accolades, Mays actually boasts a longer list than Lott. He is one of just four three-time All-Americans in USC history — in fact, he drew All-American acclaim in each of his four seasons as a starter with a freshman All-American nod in 2006.

Having said that, Lott was named the Defensive Player of the Century on the Pac-12 All-Century team for a reason. He is considered one of the greatest to ever play the game — at any level.

The ferocious defender and devastating hitter won a national championship in 1978 and garnered unanimous All-American honors as a senior in 1980.

Round of 32 Matchup: Ronnie Lott vs. Taylor Mays

No. 2 Troy Polamalu vs. No. 3 Mark Carrier

A duo of two-time All-American safeties, Troy Polamalu and Mark Carrier offer some tough debate for a second round match up.

Carrier pre-dated Polamalu by a decade and earned his nickname “Aircraft” Carrier by roving the secondary. He led the Pac-10 with seven interceptions in 1989, becoming the Trojans first ever Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back.

Polamalu, the instinctive defender with the iconic hair, helped lay the groundwork for USC’s success in the 21st century. He was a finalist for the Thorpe Award in 2002.

Both are members of the Pac-12 All-Century Team.

Round of 32 Matchup: Troy Polamalu vs. Mark Carrier?

No. 1 Keyshawn Johnson vs. No. 5 Robert Woods

Despite the gap between No. 1 and No. 5 seed, this match up has plenty of intrigue — and the real possibility to see a top seed go down.

Keyshawn Johnson is one of the most individually dominant receivers in USC history. Robert Woods is one of the most prolific.

In just two years with the Trojans, Johnson amassed 2,796 yards and 16 touchdowns. Both years he led the conference in receiving yards, with a ridiculous 17 100-yard receiving games to his name.

Woods had three years to compile his impressive stat line, including the USC career reception record at 252 catches. And that’s just the biggest of his records. He tied the Pac-12 record for most touchdowns in a game with four and set USC’s single game reception record with 17.

Round of 32 Matchup: Keyshawn Johnson vs. Robert Woods?

No. 2 Mike Williams vs. No. 3 Marqise Lee

The battle between Mike Williams and Marqise Lee bears striking resemblance to the other wide receiver match up in the second round.

Like Johnson, Williams was a dominant figure for just two years at USC. Like Woods, Lee was a prolific record-setter. Both are worthy adversaries.

Williams wasted no time. His freshman season was historic on every level. He set NCAA marks for receiving yards and touchdown catches as he freshman. He followed that up by setting USC’s single-season touchdown record as a sophomore.

Lee one-upped Williams by becoming USC’s first ever Biletnikoff Award winner as the top receiver in the nation. He broke the Trojan record for career receiving yards at 3,655 yards and the Pac-12 record for receiving yards in a game with 345 vs. Arizona in 2012.

Round of 32 Matchup: Mike Williams vs. Marqise Lee?

No. 1 Marcus Allen vs. No. 4 O.J. Simpson

No section of the bracket features more heavy hitters than the running backs, so it should be no surprise to see a contest of Hall of Famers in the second round.

O.J Simpson set NCAA records for single-season rushing yardage at 1,709. Over a decade later, Marcus Allen did the same with 2,342 yards in a season — becoming the NCAA’s first 2,000-yard rusher.

Of course, Simpson can claim the most lopsided Heisman Trophy win ever. He was also a two-time Walter Camp Award winner. Allen grabbed his own Heisman and Camp Award, but just once.

Both are College Football Hall of Famers, NFL Hall of Famers and members of the Pac-12 All-Century team.

Round of 32 Matchup: Marcus Allen vs. O.J. Simpson

No. 2 Reggie Bush vs. No. 3 Charles White

Charles White owns USC’s career rushing record with 6,245 yards to his name — a record which is unlikely to ever be broken.

White was a no-nonsense runner. He beat defenses with speed, strength and sheer willpower, taking punishment simply as part of the process of wearing out the opposition.

In Round 2, he faces Reggie Bush, the electric running back who epitomized nonsense on the football field.

Bush doesn’t boast the records, but his Heisman Trophy came courtesy of his jaw-dropping athleticism, running circles around and cutting through opposing defenses like a video game player.

Round of 32 Matchup: Reggie Bush vs. Charles White?

No. 1 Anthony Davis vs. No. 4 R. Jay Soward

It’s crunch time in the special teams brackets with USC’s most devastating return men set to square off. First up, it’s the Notre Dame Killer Anthony Davis against R. Jay Soward.

Davis ranks sixth on USC’s career kickoff return list, but his six touchdowns are unmatched by any touchdown. They also feature some of the most iconic special teams contributions in Trojan lore.

Soward ranks fourth with three kickoff return touchdowns of his own and an impressive 25.25 yard average on returns.

Round of 32 Matchup: Anthony Davis vs. R. Jay Soward?

No. 2 Adoree’ Jackson vs. No. 3 Curtis Conway

Davis and Soward were dangerous on kickoff returns, but Adoree’ Jackson and Curtis Conway both made their mark in both phases of the return game — on kickoffs and punts.

Conway led the way first, blazing through coverage teams without mercy. His 679 punt return yards are third all-time at USC. He also set the Trojan record with 1,723 kickoff return yards.

Jackson broke that record in 2016, finishing his career with 2,141 yards on kickoffs. Gliding almost casually past defenders, he added 578 punt return yards, ranking fourth all-time.

All the while, he tallied eight career return touchdowns — four from kickoffs and four from punts.

Round of 32 Matchup: Adoree' Jackson vs. Curtis Conway

No. 1 Matt Leinart vs. No. 4 Matt Barkley

Circumstances for Matt Leinart and Matt Barkley could not have been different, which may be the great equalizer for this Round 2 match up.

Leinart was a national champion and a Heisman Trophy winner. In fact, he was the greatest “winner” USC has ever had at the quarterback position. His No. 1 seed is well-deserved. But he enjoyed success during an era of Trojan dominance, with top level players all around him.

Barkley set himself atop USC’s career passing charts, setting records for career touchdowns, passing yards and total offense during a tumultuous time, with a bowl ban and scholarship reductions limiting the Trojan roster.

Round of 32 Matchup: Matt Leinart vs. Matt Barkley?

No. 2 Carson Palmer vs. No. 3 Rodney Peete

Rodney Peete fell just short of being USC’s first ever Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in 1988. Carson Palmer sealed the deal in 2002. Now it’s time to separate the two Trojan pioneers.

Peete helped usher USC into the modern era when it came to quarterbacks. He amassed 54 career touchdowns and 8,225 yards, which were far and away Trojan records at the time.

Palmer also set USC records, topping the career passing charts for passing yardage until Barkley arrived. In fact, his 11,388 yards were fourth in NCAA history when he graduated.

Round of 32 Matchup: Carson Palmer vs. Rodney Peete

No. 1 Ron Yary vs. No. 4 Brad Budde

In a bracket to rival the running backs, the second round of the offensive line section of tournament features three College Football Hall of Famers and three members of the Pac-12 All-Century team. Two of those appear in the No. 1 vs. No 4 match up with Ron Yary battling Brad Budde.

Yary cleared the way for O.J. Simpson in 1967 after switching from defensive tackle — where he earned all-conference honors — to offensive tackle in 1966. Both years that he played on the offensive line Yary was named an All-American, consensus and then unanimous.

As a senior, he became USC’s first and only Outland Trophy winner.

Budde also accomplished some USC firsts. He was the first Trojan freshman to star a season opener since World War II. He was also USC’s first Lombardi Award winner as the nation’s top lineman.

Round of 32 Matchup: Ron Yary vs. Brad Budde?

No. 2 Tony Boselli vs. No. 3 Bruce Matthews

Tony Boselli is the third member of the College Football Hall of Fame to make Round 2 for the offensive line. The two-time All-American thrived in the early 1990s, winning the Morris Trophy on offense as the Pac-10’s best lineman.

Few Trojans have managed the success Boselli achieved from start to finish. He made the All-Pac-10 first team three times, including his freshman season. And might have been a four-time first teamer, and perhaps a three-time All-American, if not for a dislocated kneecap midway through his junior season.

Bruce Matthews isn’t a CFB Hall of Famer, having achieved the greatest of his accolades in the NFL — where he is a Hall of Fame inductee. However, he still had an accomplished USC career.

A consensus All-American and Morris Trophy winner in 1982, Matthews first helped pave the way for Marcus Allen’s Heisman Trophy win in 1981 as an All-Pac-10 first teamer.

Round of 32 Matchup: Tony Boselli vs. Bruce Matthews?

No. 1 Junior Seau vs. No. 4 Rey Maualuga

Both Junior Seau and Rey Maualuga played key roles in their respective jersey number clubs. Seau was the originator of the No. 55 jersey before passing it on to Willie McGinest in 1990, while Maualuga ensured the No. 58 tradition among Polynesian Trojans would be a mainstay after inheriting it from Lofa Tatupu in 2005.

Their strong play –both earning All-American honors– helped cement them as USC linebacker legends. For Seau, his 27 tackle for loss campaign in 1989 gave him one of the best single seasons in school history, while Maualuga was a four-year cog in Pete Carroll’s defense on his way to taking home the Bednarik Award in 2008.

Round of 32 Matchup: Junior Seau vs. Rey Maualuga?

No. 2 Richard Wood vs. No. 3 Chris Claiborne

There have only been four three-time All-Americans in USC history. Richard Wood was the first. Wood was barred from playing as a freshman because of the rules of the day restricting underclassmen, but when he got his chance to play he proved to be a dominant figure on the defense. He was a key member of USC’s 1972 and 1974 national championship teams.

Claiborne also had a prolific three-year career with the Trojans. He could do it all, tallying 116 tackles during his debut season, 16 tackles for loss as a sophomore and 16 deflections and six interceptions as a junior.

That final season, Claiborne became USC’s first ever Butkus Award winner and achieved unanimous All-American status.

Round of 32 Matchup: Richard Wood vs. Chris Claiborne?

No. 1 Leonard Williams vs. No. 5 Willie McGinest

When the Pac-12 announced their All-Century team in 2015, only two USC defensive linemen made the cut: Leonard Williams and Willie McGinest. It’s fitting that both meet in RoT Madness, with a spot in the defensive line finals on the line.

Williams was a two-time All-American during his time at Troy, winning the honors with two different defensive coordinators, in two different systems. McGinest, who never earned AA honors, twice took home first-team All-Pac-10 plaques and did it while leading USC in sacks two different times in two different positions.

Round of 32 Matchup: Leonard Williams vs. Willie McGinest?

No. 3 Shaun Cody vs. No. 7 Sedrick Ellis

Shaun Cody was a consenus All-American selection in 2004, though Sedrick Ellis took home unanimous honors three years later for his second of two-straight All-American honors. That might be the only way to properly distinguish the two defensive tackles, albeit hair splitting.

Cody and his 31.5 career tackles for loss helped revolutionize the Trojans’ defensive line under Pete Carroll. Ellis, a powerful bowling ball of fury, followed in his footsteps to the tune of 28.5 tackles for loss. He even had an impressive seven batted passes as a senior.

Round of 32 Matchup: Shaun Cody vs. Sedrick Ellis?