|First meeting||November 4, 1905|
Stanford 16, USC 0
|Latest meeting||September 7, 2019|
USC 45, Stanford 20
|All-time series||USC leads, 62-33-3|
1 USC win vacated
|Largest victory||USC, 49-0 (1977)|
|Longest win streak||USC, 12 (1958-1969)|
|Longest unbeaten streak||USC, 15 (1976-1990)|
|Current win streak||USC, 1 (2019-present)|
|Locations of Stanford and USC|
The Stanford-USC football rivalry is an American college football rivalry between the Stanford Cardinal and the USC Trojans, both members of the Pac-12 Conference and the only private schools in the conference. The two teams first played in 1905 and have met nearly every year since 1919 (missing only 1921, 1924, and the World War II years 1943-1945), frequently vying for the conference championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl. Stanford is USC's oldest current rival.
The rivalry began in earnest in the 1930s after USC had won three national championships in five years. A group of Stanford freshmen, after a stinging 1932 loss to an undefeated USC team, promised never to lose to USC again. The "Vow Boys" made good on their promise, winning their next three games against the Trojans, beginning with the 1933 win that broke USC's 27-game undefeated streak.
For most of its history, USC dominated the series, and overall USC has won about two-thirds of the games, but the rivalry has been marked with notable incidents and expressions of disdain between the two schools. In 1972, USC coach John McKay accused Stanford and its fans of having "no class" and said he'd "like to beat Stanford by 2,000 points"; Stanford coach Jack Christiansen responded that he wouldn't "get into a urinating contest with a skunk". Two years earlier, when McKay's son J.K. and his high school teammate Pat Haden had told him they were considering going to Stanford, he replied, "If it was between Stanford and Red China, I would pay your way to Peking." Both played at USC under McKay, as the Trojans won national titles in 1972 and 1974. In 1979, Stanford came back in the last four minutes to tie #1 USC 21-21 on October 13. This game, considered one of the greatest of the 20th century, effectively cost USC a national title (they dropped to #4 in the polls afterwards). USC finished 11-0-1, but was ranked #2 in both polls due to the tie. In 1980, the Stanford Band marched onto the field accompanied by a horse skeleton on wheels, being ridden by a Trojan-helmeted human skeleton, in a parody of USC's Traveler mascot. For the 2012 game, the Stanford band leader inexplicably showed up dressed as the USC Trojan mascot.
USC cemented its margin in the series between 1958 and 1990, going 29-3-1, but the teams have split the 30 decisions since. The competitive atmosphere of the rivalry increased in the early 1990s when Bill Walsh returned for his second tenure as Stanford's head coach, and particularly heated up in 2007 after Stanford hired head coach Jim Harbaugh. 1-3, unranked Stanford (who had been 1-11 the prior season under head coach Walt Harris) entered the 2007 game as a 41-point underdog against #2 USC, but pulled out a 24-23 win in what has been called one of the biggest college football upsets of all time.
The 2009 game was marked by a post-game verbal confrontation between Harbaugh and USC head coach Pete Carroll, after #25 Stanford capped off its convincing 55-21 win over #11 USC with a late 2-point conversion attempt and another touchdown; Carroll came off the field saying "What's your deal?" at Harbaugh, who responded, "What's your deal?" Stanford then adopted the phrase as a slogan for its season ticket packages.
In recent years, the rivalry has been memorable for its upsets. The lower-ranked team pulled off an upset six out of nine years from 2007-2015 (four by Stanford and two by USC), including four years in a row from 2012-2015 (two each for Stanford and USC). In 2012, #21 Stanford knocked off the #2 Trojans, 21-14. In 2013, unranked USC defeated #5 Stanford 20-17, ending Stanford's longest winning streak in the series at four, and possibly costing the Cardinal a trip to the national championship game. In 2015, unranked Stanford went on the road and upset #6 USC 41-31.
In 2010, the then-Pac-10 Conference expanded to 12 teams and split into north and south divisions, moving Stanford and USC into different divisions. This move threatened the annual rivalry, since teams from each division were not scheduled to play each other every year; however, the conference elected to maintain the "historic California rivalries", including both the Stanford-USC rivalry and the Cal-UCLA rivalry.
Both teams being ranked entering the game was once a rare occurrence but has become the norm in recent years. There have been 15 games where both Stanford and USC were ranked, with 2 from 1940-1953, 4 from 1968-1972, just 1 from 1973-2008, and 8 since 2009.
USC leads the series 61-33-3; they have led since the third game. USC holds the longest win streak in the series, with 12 wins from 1958-1969. USC also went 14-0-1 from 1976-1990, with the two teams playing to a tie in 1979. Stanford's longest win streak was 4 from 2009-2012. The early years of the series had near-parity, with USC leading 17-15-2 from 1905-1957. USC then went 39-9-1 from 1958-2006; however, Stanford is 9-5 since then, including 4 of 6 in the L.A. Coliseum. The teams met twice in 2015 – once in the regular season and, after #7 Stanford and #24 USC won their divisions, a rematch in the Pac-12 Championship Game, which #7 Stanford won 41-22, also ending the four-year streak of upsets in the series. In 2017 the teams, both ranked in the top 15, again met for the conference championship, with USC winning 31-28, the first win by a southern division team since the Pac-12 adopted the championship game format.
|Stanford victories||USC victories||Tie games|