Texas hosts No. 22 Southern California on Saturday in a matchup between a pair of college football’s marquee programs, if not top-ranked teams.
Longhorns’ players bring their own perspective into the contest, some forged in the heat of the battle against USC last year, some from the prior legendary battles between the two teams and others from an totally new point of reference.
“I’m fired up man. I’m ready to go,” Texas defensive tackle Chris Nelson on Tuesday.
Nelson had one unassisted tackle against the Trojans last season.
“Everybody is hyped up,” he said, “the juice is pumping right now.”
The Trojans outlasted Texas 27-24 in double overtime at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2017 in the first meeting since the Longhorns beat USC in the 2005 BCS National Championship game in the Rose Bowl.
The Trojans don’t recognize the title game as a loss because that season’s results were vacated by the NCAA when it decided star running back Reggie Bush received impermissible benefits. Without that loss counting, USC is now 5-0 against the Longhorns.
The Texas sports information office wrote that Saturday’s game at Royal-Memorial Stadium is the seventh all-time meeting and that USC holds a 5-1 series record. Texas did not vacate its results.
This will be the first time the two teams have played in Austin since 1966.
Texas graduate transfer running back Tre Watson grew up in Southern California and was such a USC fan that he wore No. 5 in tribute to Bush when at California and now as a member of the Longhorns.
But how does Watson feel about USC now?
“If you’re not in the burnt orange and white, you’re the enemy,” Watson said.
Watson admits that Texas’ win in 2005, with quarterback Vince Young excelling and running for the winning touchdown in the final minute on 4th-and-5 from the USC 8-yard line, “changed my life.”
Texas defensive lineman Charles Omenihu, who had two tackles, one of them unassisted in last year’s game, said the Longhorns will have to work to get pressure on USC freshman quarterback JT Daniels. Daniels had three turnovers in the Trojans’ 17-3 loss to Stanford last week and bruised his throwing hand in the game.
“He’s good,” Omenihu said. “He’s young, but age don’t mean nothing. We’re just going to have to hit him.”
—Steve Habel (@SteveHabel), Field Level Media