You already know the anniversary by now. This meeting marks the first time Texas and USC have played one another since the 2006 BCS Championship Game, an all-timer with the Longhorns winning 41-38 on the legs of quarterback Vince Young. That was nearly 12 years ago, and things are a little different this time around.
Texas is still trying to build something special -- as it has been doing for the past seven years -- and first-year coach Tom Herman could use a huge win. USC is much further along and looks ready to compete for a College Football Playoff spot after dismantling Stanford in Week 2. This early-season nonconference game doesn't have the same stakes as the last time these two met, but with any luck, it will come close to matching the entertainment value.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 16 | Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum -- Los Angeles, California
TV: FOX | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free) and Fox Sports Go
Texas: Who starts at quarterback: Shane Buechele or freshman Sam Ehlinger? Well, the answer is two-fold, depending on whether Buechele is healthy enough to practice consistently with his shoulder injury and how he performs if/when he does. "Every day he's getting better, but every day is a new day," Herman said of Buechele, per the Dallas Morning News. Ehlinger started shaky but was solid overall in his first start against San Jose State with 222 yards passing, 48 yards rushing and a score -- but this week would obviously be a different challenge. There was a quarterback competition all offseason and with Buechele's injury, that will continue for a little bit longer. It's a matter of when someone takes it over for good.
See which team in this game the pros at SportsLine are all over.
USC: The pleasant surprise for this offense has been the backfield duo of Ronald Jones II and Stephen Carr, not quarterback Sam Darnold. Jones has always been a stud -- and coach Clay Helton has not been afraid to feed him -- but he's been a little under-appreciated nationally. He's third in the Pac-12 at 137.5 yards per game and averages well over 6 yards per carry. Carr, whom coaches have raved about, is sixth in the conference with just under 100 yards on the ground per game at a whopping 10.44 yards per rush. The explosiveness Jones and Carr bring has been matched by the run blocking of the offensive line. Darnold has been good, but USC's ability to wear down teams with the run has elevated this offense's ceiling.
Given the aforementioned praise of USC's rushing attack, this looks like a bad matchup for Texas defensively. The season-opening loss to Maryland (263 yards rushing allowed) showed that unit has a long way to go in improving its run fits and tackling. Granted, teams tend to improve a lot from Week 1 to Week 2, but the combo of Jones and Carr is as good as any in the country and stopping that is a lot to ask of any defense. The Longhorns are likely to have some success as well running the ball with Chris Warren III, so this game could mirror USC's Week 2 shootout against Stanford at first. The Trojans should be able to put this one away, though. Pick: USC -17.5