USC football schedule: Trojans set to play FCS opponent for first time in 2021 season
USC was one of three programs to never play an FCS program
USC announced three future home games on Friday afternoon, and they're against UC-Davis in 2021, Nevada in 2023 and San Jose State in 2024. Now, as you read that sentence, some of you are probably wondering why a national site like CBSSports.com would be drawing attention to USC scheduling games against UC-Davis, Nevada and San Jose State. Maybe if they'd scheduled a game against Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State it would be worth your time, but surely UC-Davis, Nevada and San Jose State isn't worth our time?
Well, you'd be two-thirds right.
The game against UC-Davis is significant. You see, before Friday's announcement, USC was one of only three schools that could claim it had never faced an FCS opponent. That will come to an end when the Trojans host the Aggies on Sept. 4, 2021. Barring some unforeseen schedule changes between now and then, after that date, only Notre Dame and USC's crosstown rival UCLA will be able to make that claim.
So why is USC doing this?
Well, while no official reason was given along with the announcement, associate AD Steve Lopes told The Athletic earlier this year that making sure the Trojans play seven home games a season would be a priority for the program in the future. With the Pac-12 playing nine conference games per season, the Trojans are forced to play five road games in conference every other year. That means at least two of its three nonconference games must be at home, and with its annual series against Notre Dame alternating locations each season, it's not always easy to find FBS schools willing to make the trip to Los Angeles for a game. Finding an FCS school to venture to Los Angeles, however, is a bit easier.
"If you start looking at the teams that are available, it's very limited," Lopes told The Athletic in May. "We're looking at schools that might not even be FBS, which I don't think it's that big of a deal. We may get criticized if and when we do it, but everybody does it. ... Are you going to die on that sword? You can play very good FCS schools that are better than some of the FBS schools you'll play, the directional schools you'll play."
For what it's worth, UC-Davis was one of the stronger FCS programs in the country last season. The Aggies, under former Boise State and Colorado coach Dan Hawkins, are coming off a 10-3 season. Sagarin ratings -- which were once a part of the BCS formula -- had UC-Davis ranked 101st last year, ahead of FBS programs like USF, Louisiana Tech, SMU, Navy, Illinois, Louisville, Oregon State, and Rutgers to name a few.
Still, I don't know how much of a salve that will be for any USC fan who has long taken pride in the school's policy of playing FBS programs.
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